The mainmast of the 200-foot Tall Ship SSV Oliver Hazard Perry was stepped Wednesday, September 24 in a dockside ceremony at The Hinckley Company in Portsmouth, RI, marking a major milestone in the completion of Rhode Island’s Official Sailing Education Vessel that will serve students from across the country and abroad. Attending were supporters – including donors and Board members – of Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island (OHPRI), the non-profit organization responsible for building and operating the ship.
SSV Oliver Hazard Perry as she looked on September 25, after all three masts were stepped at The Hinckley Company in Portsmouth, RI. © Russell Bostock
“The stepping of a mast means it is erected and secured into its ‘step’ within the hull,” explained Captain Richard Bailey, the Perry’s Captain, who served as Master of Ceremonies. When the 132-foot mast was in place, the firing of the Perry’s cannon signaled that all was well with the progress of this privately-funded and publicly supported project: the first full-rigged ocean-going ship to be built in the U.S, in the last 110 years. The mizzenmast, the last of the three masts on the square-rigged ship, was erected after the morning ceremony.
Towering 120 feet above the deck, the mainmast is made up of three sections: the 65-foot lower section made of steel and its upper two sections (called the topmast and t’gallant) made of Douglas fir, which came from a private tree farm in Rainier, Oregon and was turned in Washington State on the largest spar lathe in North America. Collectively, Perry’s 19 wooden spars – including the mizzen, mainmast and royals for each; fore top mast and gallant; mizzen gaff; boom; and jib boom – weigh almost 36 tons and total 25,182 board feet.
When completed, the Perry will be a Coast Guard-inspected and approved steel-hulled, technologically sophisticated 21st Century ship. Her equipment will include high-end navigation and communication systems, a state-of-the-art science lab (designed under the guidance of the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography), and wheelchair accessibility (including accessible below deck staterooms, heads and a wheelchair lift). The Great Cabin will be used as a classroom outfitted with monitors displaying real-time navigation and meteorological data. The other classroom space will house laptop computers (donated by Intel), interactive SMART boards (donated by Shanix Technologies, Inc.) and a well-stocked library. For more information, visit ohpri.org or contact Jess Wurzbacher at 401-841-0080 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barby MacGowan at Media Pro International contributed to this report.