Christmas came early this year for Rhode Island’s Official Sailing Education Vessel, the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, when its two Caterpillar C-12 main engines from Milton Cat (Milford, Mass.)--one of the Perry’s Marine Trades Partners-- were delivered in November. This week at Senesco Marine in North Kingstown, R.I., both of the 12-liter, in-line six-cylinder engines were lowered onto the 200-foot Tall Ship’s freshly painted engine beds. Each has a rating of 385 hp at 1,800 rpm and is certified to run on a 20% biofuel-to-diesel blend that will be provided by another of the ship’s Marine Trades Partners, the locally headquartered Newport BioDiesel.
“Ships have been green before there was a green,” said the Perry’s Captain Richard Bailey, “because they use wind in their sails to move from place to place. However, a ship still has to have engines and a bow thruster to make tugs unnecessary and provide ability to enter smaller ports. During times when the wind doesn’t blow, this is the hidden power to meet tight schedules, and since we have to have this power aboard the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, we are making it as green as possible.”
The Perry’s engine installation is part of the final construction phase that also includes her move this winter from Senesco to Newport Shipyard on the Newport waterfront, where the ship’s lower masts, Douglas fir upper mast sections and 16 yards will be installed. Currently half completed, her 20 sails continue to be made by Hood Sails, and the rigging team is in place to take delivery of the masts and spars in February. The ship’s entire inventory of interior paneling, fixtures and equipment has been ordered and partially installed.
“When we initially reviewed the project, we knew we’d like to be a part of it,” said Milton Cat’s Marine Business Manager Kevin Hampson, explaining that with the help of Caterpillar “corporate” his company immediately agreed to participate and provide the two main engines and back-up generator at a generous discount. “With some guidance from our project engineers, the shipyard will hook up all the systems (exhaust, fuel, cooling, etc.) and connect the engines to the drive shafts. Then we will provide technicians on board during the initial start-up and for the ship’s sea trials. It’s a great cause, and even though our exposure to sailing schools is limited, Milton Cat always looks at opportunities to support maritime institutes and vocational schools that feed the marine industry, since we look to these organizations for potential employees.”
Newport BioDiesel Chairman Rob Morton said he believes his company’s involvement in the state’s sailing education vessel will help expand awareness of the benefits of using biodiesel as an alternative fuel. “Since part of the ship’s curriculum is environmental awareness, the ship naturally must be a good steward and represent what it’s talking about,” said Morton, explaining that Newport Biodiesel produces a clean-burning and sustainable fuel from waste vegetable oil collected from over 1,700 restaurant partners in the New England area. (The ship also will utilize two highly emissions-efficient John Deere Tier III generators.)
A Year of Successful Fund Raising
According to Bart Dunbar, chairman of the non-profit organization Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island (OHPRI), “Since the public last saw the ship at her July 2013 Dedication in Newport, we have set the achievable goal of completing the ship’s construction, earning our certificate of inspection and becoming operational by June of 2014.” He explained that this milestone is possible in large part because of the recent approval by BankNewport of the organization’s long-term financing.
“BankNewport was our first corporate donor to this project in 2008, and BankNewport has worked closely with our Board of Directors to ensure that this significant new asset for Newport and the State of Rhode Island can be delivered next year,” added Dunbar. “This is a very substantial achievement for us.”
BankNewport has provided over $30,000 in contributions to the Oliver Hazard Perry project and $600,000 in short-term construction loans to help complete earlier shipbuilding phases. BankNewport recently approved a new $2 million permanent financing of the vessel, including the $600,000 already provided and $1.4 million in additional funds for this final shipbuilding phase, which will be completed between December 2013 and June 2014 and includes the installation of the ship’s rig and the completion of the ship’s interior systems, equipment and finishes.
“Combined with well-planned progressive construction, our consistently strong fundraising--including a recent $500,000 grant from the Alletta Morris McBean Charitable Foundation--plays a large role in securing permanent financing from BankNewport,” said Dunbar. “We have raised over $9 million toward this $10.5 million project, and this builds confidence in the community that this ship is nearly complete.”
According to BankNewport President Sandra Pattie, “BankNewport has been happy to partner with OHPRI to help bring this dream of Rhode Island’s own Tall Ship to reality.” Executive Vice President Lee Merrill added, “The SSV Oliver Hazard Perry will be a steward, wherever it goes, of Rhode Island’s marine trades and educational industries and will be a major tourist and economic beacon when it is back at its home port of Newport, R.I. We look forward to seeing it ply the waters of Narragansett Bay this coming summer.”
In the Summer of 2014, the steel-hulled SSV Oliver Hazard Perry will set sail as the first ocean-going full-rigged ship to be built in the U.S. in 110 years. With her three-masted square rig towering 13.5 stories high, she’ll be second in size only to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Barque Eagle when it comes to comparison with any other Tall Ship in America. She will sail along the Eastern Seaboard and throughout the Caribbean not only as the educational flagship for the Ocean State but also as a symbol of her country’s rich maritime heritage, determined in no small part by the brave naval war hero for whom she is named.
In addition to BankNewport’s loan and the Alletta Morris McBean Charitable Foundation grant, a two-part challenge has been issued by an anonymous donor. Donations of up to $9,999 will be equally matched by the challenge up to a limit of $250,000. For the second part of the challenge, donations of $10,000 or more will be matched at the 50% level up to $1 million. OHPRI has raised $58,000 and $730,000, respectively, for the first and second parts of this latest challenge.
“We need everyone onboard for this final push,” said OHPRI’s Chairman Emeritus Vice Admiral Thomas Weschler, USN, RET. “The SSV Oliver Hazard Perry will be rigged and outfitted in the public eye, an event that has not happened in the U.S. for over a century and may never be seen again by most individuals. During this stage, which takes place in Newport over this winter and through the Spring of 2014, the ship will be poised to provide pride in our community, inspiration for our younger generations and education about our State’s marine trades while being a true personification of Rhode Island’s history and significance.”
The SSV Oliver Hazard Perry’s calendar of operations for after she is fully commissioned includes seven one-week onboard coastal Sea Camp programs, scheduled to begin this summer.