SSV Oliver Hazard Perry: Tall Ship Passes Final Tests (photo © George Bekris)

SSV Oliver Hazard Perry shows its stature next to jet skis and a 12-Metre on Narragansett Bay last week. (Photo © George Bekris)

NEWPORT, R.I. (July 26, 2016) – The 200-foot Tall Ship SSV Oliver Hazard Perry caused heads to turn last week while she completed drills on Narragansett Bay under full sail and in brisk breezes. The drills, as well as inspections, have been required by the US Coast Guard in order for the ship to qualify as a Sailing School Vessel under USCG regulations. The three-masted, full rigged ship is Rhode Island’s official “Sailing Education Vessel” and carries 14,000 sq. ft. of sail area and seven miles of running rigging. Her tallest mast is 13 ½ stories high.

“We are very pleased with the way the crew has come together and that Oliver Hazard Perry has made it through all the complexities of Coast Guard certification to receive her USCG Certificate of Inspection,” said Captain David Dawes, who joined the ship three months ago. “The ship is performing as expected, and we’re confident we’ll be able to give trainees an excellent experience this summer.”

Crew on deck in 2014 (Photo © Jill Schneider)

Crew on deck in 2014 (Photo © Jill Schneider)

Teen and Adult Voyages

SSV Oliver Hazard Perry’s first trainees will board this weekend (July 31) in Boston during the first of this year’s two scheduled Teen Summer Voyages. The ship will sail with its students to several ports along the coast on its way to Portsmouth, N.H., where it will arrive on August 10. The second teen voyage is scheduled to depart Portsmouth on August 14 and arrive at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, R.I. (where the ship is based) on August 20. (Limited openings are still available for both sessions.)

SSV Oliver Hazard Perry also has just announced its first 2016 Adult and Family Voyage for Labor Day Weekend. It leaves from Fort Adams on Saturday morning, September 3, and returns the afternoon of Monday, September 5. The ship will sail in and around Narragansett Bay, with overnight anchorages that may include (depending on wind and weather) Dutch Harbor, the Sakonnet River, and Block Island. (Each participant under 18 must be accompanied by at least one adult; no prior experience is necessary, and no extraordinary fitness is required.)

SSV Oliver Hazard Perry under sail. (Photo © Onne van der Wal)

Although SSV Oliver Hazard Perry is a new 21st Century Tall Ship, participants of all ages who sail aboard her will connect with a long history of education-at-sea adventures, living aboard and working side-by-side with professional crew to learn square-rig seamanship – including bracing the yards, steering the ship and going aloft – on the first ocean-going full-rigged ship to be built in America in over a hundred years.

For more information on SSV Oliver Hazard Perry and its programs, visit or contact Follow OHPRI on Facebook and Twitter for current news and developments.


SSV Oliver Hazard Perry will arrive at Fort Adams on Saturday, May 2nd and will be open for public tours the following Saturday through Tuesday. (left: Credit George Bekris, right: credit Onne van der Wal/OHPRI)

SSV Oliver Hazard Perry will arrive at Fort Adams on Saturday, May 2nd and will be open for public tours the following Saturday through Tuesday. (left: Credit George Bekris, right: credit Onne van der Wal/OHPRI)


WHAT:     SSV Oliver Hazard Perry Public Showing and Tours

WHEN:     Public Showing May 5th  (afternoon) – May 12th

Public Tours:

Saturday, May 9th – Mon, May 11th (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.)

Tues, May 12th (9 a.m. – 3 p.m.)

WHERE:  Fort Adams State Park

SSV Oliver Hazard Perry will arrive at Fort Adams on Saturday, May 2nd and will be open for public tours the following Saturday through Tuesday. (left: Credit George Bekris, right: credit Onne van der Wal/OHPRI)

Sailing School Vessel (SSV) Oliver Hazard Perry will make the first-ever visit to her permanent berth at Fort Adams State Park in Newport. She is the first ocean-going full-rigged ship built in America in over a century, and she sails as the Ocean State’s Official Sailing Education Vessel.

The impressive silhouette of SSV Oliver Hazard Perry includes a towering rig, the tallest part of which reaches 13 ½ stories high; a total of 19 spars that have been turned from massive Douglas fir trees on the largest spar lathe in North America; seven miles of rope and wire that have been made integral to the ship’s operation by tradesmen trained in both modern and traditional rigging techniques; and 20 sails, both square and fore-and-aft that total 14,000 square feet.

As a Sailing School Vessel, the Tall Ship will carry not passengers but students of all ages participating in academic and experiential learning programs aboard while engaging in all aspects of shipboard life.

Oliver Hazard Perry (Photo by George Bekris)

Oliver Hazard Perry (Photo by George Bekris)



Oliver Hazard Perry (Photo by George Bekris)

Oliver Hazard Perry (Photo by George Bekris)

 High School Semester-at-Sea Offered for Winter/Spring 2016

 NEWPORT, RI (April 28, 2015) – A limited number of spaces are available for SSV Oliver Hazard Perry’s High School Semester-at-Sea program scheduled for the Winter and Spring of 2016. This voyage will be conducted by Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island (OHPRI) in partnership with Ocean Classroom, the non-profit organization based in Portland, Maine that has a 20-year tradition of offering trans-formative voyages under sail. Participating students can receive full academic credit for this new 14-week experiential learning program that starts in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands on February 3rd, 2016 and concludes on May 14th in Portland.

Oliver Hazard Perry (Photo by George Bekris)

Oliver Hazard Perry (Photo by George Bekris)

SSV Oliver Hazard Perry will be the platform for a High School Semester-at-Sea program presented by Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island in partnership with Ocean Classroom over Winter/Spring 2016.

While students are aboard the Perry they will participate in all aspects of the ship’s operations as well as follow a specially tailored academic curriculum. Courses taught include marine science, maritime literature, maritime history, applied mathematics and navigation (including some trigonometry), and seamanship skills.

SSV Oliver Hazard Perry is uniquely outfitted for teaching invaluable lessons both above decks and below. Equipped with classroom space, a well-stocked library and full science laboratory, the ship allows faculty and students to learn with the same equipment and facilities as they would use in modern land-based schools.

Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island and Ocean Classroom have partnered to offer a High School Semester-at-Sea program over Winter/Spring 2016.


Learning the ropes at sea ( Onne van der Wal/OHPRI)

During the program, the ship will make stops at a number of islands and ports, including St. Eustatius; Bequia; Trinidad; Puerto Rico; Cumberland Island, Georgia; Charleston, S.C.; Norfolk, Virginia; New York City; Newport, R.I.; and Bar Harbor, Maine. (Itineraries are subject to change.) On adventures ashore, students will explore local historical sites, natural attractions and museums. There are tentative plans for a service project at Cumberland Island and a beach cookout and evening kayak expedition to study bioluminescence in Vieques (Puerto Rico). In New York, plans are for students to visit the Museum of Natural History, South Street Seaport and the Fulton Fish Market.

Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island and Ocean Classroom have partnered to offer a High School Semester-at-Sea program over Winter/Spring 2016.

Learning the ropes at sea (Photo by  Ocean Classroom)

Learning the ropes at sea (Photo by Ocean Classroom)

SSV Oliver Hazard Perry is the nation’s newest and largest sail training and educational vessel. At 200 feet in length, her 130-foot-tall rig consists of three masts and 20 sails. Below decks, she offers accommodations for 49 people on ocean voyages, a climate-controlled environment, a modern galley, and a full array of electronic navigation and communication gear. As a new vessel, she has been built under the supervision of the U.S. Coast Guard and the American Bureau of Shipping to ensure that she meets, if not exceeds, all safety regulations for worldwide operations.

To learn more about this program and how to apply for one of the limited spaces available, contact OHPRI Executive Director Jess Wurzbacher at 401-841-0080, or Ocean Classroom’s Tara Treichel at +1 207-370-2287, Apply online at

Follow OHPRI on Facebook and Twitter for current news and developments.

Learning the ropes at sea (Photo by  Ocean Classroom)

Learning the ropes at sea (Photo by Ocean Classroom)


Dedication of SSV Oliver Hazard Perry at Fort Adams, Newport Rhode Island (Photo by OHPRI/Kim Fuller)


by Kirsten Ferguson

Nothing But Rave Reviews for Rhode Island’s Sailing Education Vessel

NEWPORT, R.I. (July 10, 2013) – The SSV Oliver Hazard Perry was dedicated as Rhode Island’s Official Sailing Education Vessel at a dockside ceremony Saturday morning at Fort Adams State Park. Rhode Island Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts was among a half dozen local, state and Navy dignitaries to speak to an audience of approximately 600 supporters and had the distinguished honor of reading the official declaration proclamation on behalf of Governor Lincoln Chafee.

“In 2012, the legislature designated this ship as the state’s official Sailing Education Vessel, authorizing the ship to fly the state flag at sea and in port and to act as the state’s ambassador as she sails the world’s waters,” read Roberts. “With my power and with these words, I dedicate the Oliver Hazard Perry as Rhode Island’s official Sailing Education Vessel and wish her fair winds and smooth seas as she spreads the wisdom of our forefathers and modern scholars to all who visit and study aboard her.”

Dedication Ceremony (Photo by OHPRI/Kim Fuller)

At the end of her speech, Roberts ordered the ship’s commander, Captain Richard Bailey, to “set the first watch,” which was represented by the hoisting of the American flag at the ship’s stern, followed by a gun salute from the Artillery Company of Newport and the manning of the rails by nine Navy sea cadets. (The Northeast Navy Band also was present at the event.) A final flag, declaring “Don’t Give up the Ship”—just as Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s did in 1813 when he captured the British fleet and its flagship in the Battle of Lake Erie—was raised to the highest point of the ship’s three lower masts, which were draped from stem to stern with signal flags.

Earlier, Lt. Governor Roberts had called the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry “this amazing sailing vessel where students will be learning about not only science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics but also–as they walk on this ship or walk by this ship–the history of our state and our country and the importance of Rhode Island to that history.” She added, “We often overlook the role we have played at different times as we celebrate the 350th Anniversary of our Colonial Charter and how important that has been to our country and the entire western world.”

Another advocate for the project, R.I. Commissioner of Education Deborah Gist, said in her impassioned speech, “When (OHPRI Chair) Bart Dunbar and (Operations Director) Jessica Wurzbacher came to talk to me about this project, they had me at ‘hello.’ I was immediately sold. The idea of having Rhode Island students out on the water– experiencing what it’s like to be on a tall ship, with the science and all the activities, and the incredible building of character and being on a team and relying on one another–fills me with excitement and joy.”

Gist, a former science teacher and environmental educator, also thanked Vice Admiral Tom Weschler (Ret), a driving force behind the ship who also is the Chairman Emeritus of the non-profit Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island. “A visionary is someone who imagines the possible, but it is when a visionary brings the possible to life, that magic truly happens, and we are so grateful for everything that you and your family have done,” said Gist.

Although the ship was clearly unfinished (her masts will be three times as tall as what was seen and her bowsprit half as long again, plus her engines, generators and more are still to come in the final outfitting), the topsides were freshly painted and a Great Cabin finished out as the “showpiece” for the work in progress. The Great Cabin, traditionally where the captain entertained on 18th and 19th century ships, is designated as a teaching area/navigation station aboard the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry. An hour prior to the public dedication of the ship, a private, and moving, dedication of this space took place with the family of Vice Admiral Weschler. It is after his brother—Navy Lt. Charles J. Weschler, a decorated World War II hero—that the Great Cabin has been named.

Naval Band playing for the dedication of the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry (Photo by OHPRI/Kim Fuller)

Over the remainder of the Fourth of July weekend, nearly 1000 visitors inspected the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry before the ship returned to Senesco Marine in Quonset, R.I., to continue construction. When it is launched in 2014, The 196’ three-masted, square-rigged tall ship SSV Oliver Hazard Perry will be the largest civilian training vessel in North America and the first ocean-going, full-rigged ship built in the United States in more than 100 years.

For more information about OHPRI and how to contribute to the effort, visit or contact Vice-Chair Perry Lewis at OHPRI headquarters, Buliod-Perry House, 29 Touro Street, Washington Square, Newport, R.I., 401.841.0080.

Follow OHPRI on Facebook at

What Others Said

RADM Glenn E. Whisler, USN (Ret) (OHPRI Board Member and Master of Ceremonies):”“I can’t wait to look out over Narragansett Bay and see this ship under full sail with a full complement of students aboard.

Bartlett Dunbar (OHPRI Chairman): “With the dedication of this magnificent ship, named for our Rhode Island hero Oliver Hazard Perry, and with a Great Cabin just dedicated to the Weschler Family and naval hero Lieutenant Charles Weschler, we have an appropriate symbol for Rhode Island’s historic past, its incredibly energetic present, and its prosperous future.”

Hon. Jack Reed (U.S. Senate): “September 10th marks the 200th Anniversary of the victory of Oliver Hazard Perry at the Battle of Lake Erie. It’s an extraordinarily important moment in our history. His motto was “Don’t Give up the Ship,” and that pennant flew over his vessel and inspired his crew. Then at the end of the long fight, he was able to report, ‘We have met the enemy and they are ours. Two ships, two rigs, one schooner, and one sloop.’ This is the spirit of America.”

Congressman James Langevin: “The maritime industry is an integral part of Rhode Island’s history, and the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry is a tribute to that past and a beacon to the future and will continue to support the Ocean State’s maritime environment. The major difference between this tall ship and its predecessors in the early 19th century is that this one is wheelchair accessible. (Langevin delivered his comments from his wheelchair.)

Hon. M. Teresa Paiva-Weed (President, R.I. Senate): “I want to point out this beautiful setting of Fort Adams State Park, which I love so much, as an example of when the private sector and the public sector come together from start to finish. We have Sail Newport, we have the Fort Adams Trust and now our newest tenant here in the Oliver Hazard Perry. This is truly one of the state’s greatest assets and each time we improve this park and each time we add something as beautiful as this, it really attracts more Rhode Islanders to come and enjoy the beauty of the park.”

RADM Walter Carter Jr., USN (President, Naval War College): “I can’t think of a better way to begin my tenure as president of the Naval War College than to represent our United States Navy in uniform during the very week that we celebrate our nation’s birthday, and to participate in the dedication of a ship that will serve as a living tribute to the maritime heritage of Rhode Island. As we dedicate this great ship, we recognize the role that it will soon play in educating our youth in the skills of seamanship, teamwork and service to others. I am indeed a proud native Rhode Islander and earned my very first sea legs right here in Narragansett Bay in 1976, but more importantly, over the centuries, New England has produced some of the world’s best mariners, and this fair city has been home to many distinguished naval officers, including naval heroes Matthew C. Perry and his brother Oliver Hazard Perry for whom this ship is named.”

Larry Mouradjian (Associate Director of DEM): “We log over 6 million visitors a year to our state parks. This [Fort Adams] is a very special place, and we are very fortunate to have the support of government to continue to invest in the infrastructure here, so that we can once again become even better in hosting so many programs that benefit the public and create so many opportunities for people. So, it is true that just to the north, off the Visitor’s Center dock, will be a 248-foot fixed pier that will ultimately be the home of the Oliver Hazard Perry.”

Harry Winthrop (Mayor of Newport, R.I.): “What better place to have a tall ship than in the sailing capital of the world, Newport, Rhode Island.”


(Photo Credit OHPRI/Kim Fuller