The SSV Oliver Hazard Perry  —a 196’, 3-masted, square-rigged tall ship currently under construction and designated by the legislature and the Governor of Rhode Island as the state’s official “Sailing Education Vessel”—is well on its way to becoming the largest civilian sail-training vessel in North America and the first oceangoing full-rigged ship to be built in the U.S. in over 100 years. The ship will be celebrated during the July 4 weekend when she will be towed from Senesco Marine across Narragansett Bay to Newport for a Dedication Weekend that coordinates with the Independence Day holiday.

“The Perry has not been completed, and we have a long way to go–we have to make that perfectly clear,” said Bart Dunbar, chairman of Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island (OHPRI), the non-profit organization that manages and runs the ship, “but it’s very exciting, because so much progress has been made, and everyone can now start to imagine what the ship will really look like when she sails in 2014.”

The public has not seen the ship, whose namesake is Rhode Island’s naval war hero Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, since the hull left Newport Harbor three years ago to begin construction in shipyards, first in Providence and then in North Kingstown. With much of the early welding and steel work contributing little to change the hull’s profile, the more recent addition of an eight-foot high second deck (for classrooms, a lab, and galley), an aft Great Cabin, and three cabin houses are giving the ship a clearly discernible shape and new character. By July, the lower masts will have been stepped, and she will proudly display a new paint job–black with ochre accents–depicted in the color renderings that show her in all her finished glory.

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