Support for the <i>Oliver Hazard Perry</i>

Rhode Island tall ship project nears halfway funding mark.

SSV Oliver Hazard Perry

This is a rendering of the completed SSV Oliver Hazard Perry. The hull, made of steel, already exists.Courtesy of Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island

Backers of the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry project in Rhode Island are getting closer to meeting their goal of launching the state's tall ship in 2013.

“Sparks will fly on the steelwork in spring!” board vice chair Perry Lewis assured me when I stopped by the offices in downtown Newport, Rhode Island, recently.

The ship, which will feature a variety of education at sea programs for youth, got a big financial boost toward its overall fund raising goal of $4-5 million when close to $1 million in the form of boat and other donations was received in just a month’s time. The sum brought the overall funds raised to date to close to the halfway point of some $2 million.

In January 2011, the group also received a Shipbuilding Syndicate level pledge of $250,000 from the family and friends of U.S. Navy Lieutenant Charles John Weschler, to name the ship’s Great Cabin in his honor. Weschler was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and the Purple Heart for his role in early combat operations in the Philippines. He died in 1945 while being held as a Prisoner of War.

At this point, the group is working on hiring an educational coordinator, according to Lewis.

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