(Photo Credit Matt Hodge)
As SSV Oliver Hazard Perry enters its final phases of construction, the non-profit organization Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island (OHPRI) has made its end-of-year priorities clear: maximize two extraordinary fund raising opportunities and continue to develop and book the education programs that promise to set a sound course for the tall ship’s future once it is completed in 2013.
“No one can deny that this has been a banner year for the ship, but we have much more to accomplish before the close of 2012,” said OHPRI Chairman Bart Dunbar, explaining that SSV Oliver Hazard Perry was first endorsed by Rhode Island’s Education Commissioner Deborah Gist and then written into legislation by Governor Lincoln Chafee as Rhode Island’s Official Sailing Education Vessel. Several generous grants and donations have helped keep the ship’s construction and outfitting on track at Senesco Marine in North Kingstown, R.I., and two highly experienced professionals—Captain Richard Bailey, as the ship’s master, and Jessica Wurzbacher, as the Education Director—have been added to the OHPRI staff.
“We are currently in negotiations with various Rhode Island schools to solidify their schedules for use of the ship,” said Dunbar. “Once those are in place, we can plan several weeks in the summer for our own open-enrollment programs that will be tailored for students from around the country and even abroad.”
(Photo Credit Rod Smith)
As that is happening, OHPRI’s fund raising efforts remain equally focused on the reality that SSV Oliver Hazard Perry is progressing rapidly from a ship under construction to a ship under sail. Most important is that an anonymous benefactor has come forward with two levels of challenge grants that either double or increase by 50% certain monetary amounts donated toward the OHPRI project, but in order to qualify for the match they must be donated by year’s end.
“It is a very exciting time for SSV Oliver Hazard Perry,” said Dunbar. “We are using as many Rhode Island marine trades professionals as possible to build this ship, and at Senesco alone we have already funded 6,000 hours of skilled labor. Our goal is to move the ship to Newport for a dedication on July 6, 2013 and continue working toward having her Coast Guard inspected, certified and operational for the bicentennial of the Battle of Lake Erie on Sept. 10, 2013. SSV Oliver Hazard Perry will be based in Newport, but she will sail as a symbol for all of Rhode Island and as an ambassador for the state’s seafaring heritage and its innovations in education at sea.”
End-of-Year Donations Matched
OHPRI’s November/December annual appeal will be especially important to SSV Oliver Hazard Perry’s completion, since any individual or corporate contribution from $1,000 to $20,000 made before the end of this year will be doubled. That is the Plank Owner Challenge put in place by an anonymous supporter of OHPRI. A second challenge, called the Shipbuilding Syndicate Challenge, guarantees that larger donation amounts—two-year pledges between $25,000 and $500,000 that include naming opportunities onboard—will be matched at 50 percent (up to $250,000).
(Photo Credit Rod Smith)
Combined, the challenges have the potential to generate nearly $1.2 million.
Over $5 million—contributed by over 300 individual as well as corporate donors and combined with several boat donations and a construction loan—has been raised thus far for the construction of SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, which started out as an uncompleted steel hull purchased in Canada by OHPRI members and towed to Rhode Island in September of 2008.
With Education Director Jessica Wurzbacher onboard, SSV Oliver Hazard Perry’s Education-at-Sea Program has developed as a progressive collaboration with educational institutions to provide an ocean-oriented approach for supporting and enhancing academic achievement in STEAM courses (science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics); leadership development; and career pathway exploration. Wurzbacher herself spent six years teaching marine biology and oceanography onboard an ocean-going sailing school vessel, so her first-hand experience bodes well in conveying the value and versatility of SSV Oliver Hazard Perry’s education-at-sea offerings.
(Photo Credit OHPRI/Barby MacGowan)
Salve Regina University is among the first of several interested Rhode Island educational institutions to reserve specific dates for an education-at-sea session (June 2014). Dr. Kathy Vespia (East Greenwich, R.I.), Assistant Professor and Chair of the University’s Education Program, joined a week-long OHPRI-sponsored trip aboard the tall ship Gazela in August, which inspired her vision for using similar shipboard experiences as a way to put Salve’s pre-teachers in difficult learning situations so they can better empathize with and help students confront their own fears and learning challenges in the traditional classroom.
“Faculty at Salve Regina recognize the tremendous value that SSV Oliver Hazard Perry has for enhancing existing courses and developing new courses at the University,” said Vespia. “A multidisciplinary team is developing ideas for courses in the following areas: Educational Leadership and Classroom Management, Naval War History, and Teaching Science (with a particular emphasis on teaching science in urban settings). There is a strong commitment by the University to examine ways to develop a meaningful partnership with OHPRI’s education-at-sea program.”
Other educational institutions negotiating OHPRI partnerships include Roger Williams University, University of Rhode Island, NROTC, Rocky Hill School, Paul Cuffee School, Roger Williams Middle School, The Greene School and Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
Kevin Hayden, Director of Study Abroad Programs at Roger Williams University, is developing an opportunity for his Intercultural Leadership Award (ILA) students. “In 2014 they will sail aboard SSV Oliver Hazard Perry for one week during Spring Break as part of our scholarship program for students showing academic achievement as well as dedication to creating an inclusive community,” said Haden. “This meritorious award includes an enhancement program designed to further the holistic growth of the recipients, and sailing this ship will require strong teamwork, communications and responsibility—a perfect way to continue to challenge students.”
Wurzbacher cited the ship’s mission statement and expounded enthusiastically on its implications. “SSV Oliver Hazard Perry is a non-profit maritime campus, offering experience based, core-learning opportunities to a diverse student population aboard a magnificent three-masted, square rigged tall ship,” she said. “As members of the crew, students can develop morally, socially and academically as they work together as a team. The strong community that develops among shipmates requires them to put others before themselves and communicate effectively to safely accomplish tasks together and move this giant vessel under the power of the wind. Applying concepts learned in the classroom to life aboard a ship is an effective way to encourage problem solving and reinforce topics such as learning vectors and trigonometry in currents and navigation; understanding the mechanical advantage when hauling a line through a block and tackle; anticipating weather changes; sampling plankton; recording ocean salinity; studying maritime history…the topics are endless.”
SSV Oliver Hazard Perry is the first full-rigged ship to be built in the U.S. in over 100 years. In the spring, summer and fall months, the ship generally will sail as far north as Nova Scotia (and/or to the Great Lakes) and as far south as South Carolina, while in the winter it will be based in Florida and the Bahamas (or the Caribbean). It has capacity for up to 36 students on overnight trips and up to 85 for day trips, with 13 professional crew aboard and handicap-accessible berths available. Scheduling options range from day sails to overnight, week-long and three-week voyages to full semesters at sea.
Salve Regina University has produced a four-part video series called “Charting a Course,” which summarizes Dr. Kathy Vespia’s own OHPRI-inspired tall ship experience and the University’s plan to integrate SSV Oliver Hazard Perry’s education-at-sea opportunities into future education programs.
To follow the ship’s construction progress in photos, go to Narragansett Bay Shipping.com
For more information on OHPRI’s education-at-sea programs or to request further information on the Plank Owner and Shipbuilding Syndicate challenge grants, please go to www.OHPRI.org or feel free to contact Perry Lewis at 401.841.0080 or firstname.lastname@example.org, OHPRI, 29 Touro Street, Washington Square, Newport, R.I. 02840. Follow OHPRI on Facebook