Tall ship did not ground after losing power

Oliver Hazard Perry Oliver Hazard Perry USCG photograph

OCTOBER 18, 2017 — SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, Rhode Island's Official Sailing Education Vessel homeported in Newport, R.I. is back safe at her berth at Fort Adams State Park after an October 15 incident that left her disabled in inner Newport Harbor.

An initial report (see previous story) said that the tall ship lost power and hit multiple other boats before grounding near Perrotti Park. Today, though, the agency issued a corrected version, noting that a Coast Guard marine inspector conducted an initial damage survey of the vessel Monday morning and found no evidence of a grounding.

Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island, the non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that operates the vessel provides the following account of the incident.

On the evening of Sunday, October 15, the 200-foot Perry, with 12 crewmembers aboard, was moving under diesel power from Bowen's Wharf – where it had been docked for the Bowen's Wharf Seafood Festival – to Fort Adams, located approximately a quarter mile away in the outer harbor. When her two propellers became entangled by one of the ship's dock lines, Perry drifted without engine power and came in contact with four boats that were docked nearby. During the incident, no one was injured and minimal damage occurred. Perry did not run aground, and thanks to the quick actions of the captain, crew, the Newport Harbor Master, Oldport Marine Services, the Narragansett Bay Marine Task Force and Coast Guard Station Castle Hill, the ship was secured in the northeast corner of the harbor with a safety zone established around her.

On Monday, October 16, after a diver cleared the propellers and both engines were operational, Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard to assess the situation and move the ship safely to its berth with USCG-required tugboat assistance. The relocation was completed by Monday at 5 p.m.

Owners/captains of the four affected vessels were contacted, and an investigation of the incident will be completed by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Perry's next educational voyage is scheduled for January, 2018 and all of her 2018 voyages and plans for festival participation are expected to continue as scheduled. Perry will be required by the Coast Guard to undergo sea trials later this week to ensure the ongoing safety of the ship and crew.

SSV Oliver Hazard Perry is not a replica, but a modern, steel-hulled vessel purpose-built for training and education to the highest modern safety standards (accommodating 49 people overnight, including 17 professional crew). The first sea-going full-rigged Tall Ship to be built in America in over a hundred years, she is USCG-approved and all who participate in her sailing programs become part of the crew. No one is a passenger. Instead, everyone lives aboard and works side-by-side with professional crew to learn square-rig seamanship, including bracing the yards, steering the ship and even going aloft if they wish to do so.

Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island's mission is to provide innovative, empowering education-at-sea programs that promote personal and professional growth. The mission is achieved by partnering with schools, organizations, and universities for unique experiential learning opportunities that incorporate STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) educational concepts. The non-profit organization offers a variety of onboard learning experiences to program partners as well as the broader public and also participates at festivals and other events to reinforce the importance of and interest in Rhode Island's and America's maritime history.

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