Programming on Oliver Hazard Perry headed in new direction

NORTH KINGSTOWN – The nonprofit group that operates Rhode Island’s official Tall Ship, the Oliver Hazard Perry, has changed course, and the group says it has proved successful so far.

Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island said it recently completed its initial partnership program with the Rhode Island Marine Trade Association, allowing nine people in the association’s pre-apprenticeship program to get six days of hands-on experience on the sailing vessel.

It’s the first program to be completed since Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island changed its operating model earlier this year, moving away from costly long-distance voyages that were financially unsustainable.

The group said it would keep the Oliver Hazard Perry, a 200-foot, three-masted ship that serves as a sailing school, in Rhode Island for year-round programming that will include multiday and single-day voyages and dockside programs.

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Also, programming would be focused on workforce development, “ocean literacy” and civic engagement.

The six-day session with Rhode Island Marine Trade Association pre-apprentices was the first example of the new programming.

“Partnering for the first time with OHPRI has allowed the RIMTA Marine Trades Core Training Program to introduce its participants to an array of industry-specific training topics that will provide them with employable skills,” said RIMTA Executive Director Brian Dursi. “While the ship is undergoing maintenance during a yard period, the students are learning about marine coatings, propulsion systems, hydraulics, AC/DC wiring, rigging and safety. This has been a great opportunity to utilize the resources of Rhode Island’s Official Tall Ship to introduce Rhode Islanders to the career opportunities in the marine industry within the state.”

Program participants were identified through Skills for Rhode Island’s Future and received training both aboard the Oliver Hazard Perry and at the Community College of Rhode Island’s Newport campus. Jamestown Distributors donated marine industry products for the program.

“We are thrilled that we are not only piloting a new way forward for OHP, but also contributing to the prosperity and successes of Rhode Islanders,” said OHPRI CEO Capt. Jonathan Kabak.

William Hamilton is a PBN staff writer and the special projects editor. You can follow him on Twitter @waham or email him at