There are three new Staten Island ferryboats on the way and this impressive video posted by the NYC Department of Transportation shows the SSG Michael H. Ollis getting launched into the water from the Eastern Shipbuilding shipyard in Panama City, Florida.The new ferries — the Ollis will be the first to arrive to New York in August 2020 — are modeled after the MV John F. Kennedy ferry, the last of the “Kennedy-class” ferry boats that have been very popular with riders and captains for their open promenade decks and their reliability. The new Ollis-class boats will get an important upgrade: storm resiliency. The boat order comes to approximately $314 million and are funded in part with a $191.6 million federal grant from the Hurricane Sandy relief bill.
The new Staten Island ferries were the only structures to survive the damage from Hurricane Michael in October 2018, but the storm effectively delayed the projected arrival of the ferries to New York by about a year. When the Ollis-class ferries arrive, the John. F. Kennedy, the Andrew J. Barberi and S.I. Newhouse ferry boats will get retired. The new ferries, according to SILive, will be “capable of operating in a wide range of weather conditions and locations — and can also be used in emergency evacuations.” The new boast will weigh 4,570 Tons, carry 4,500 passengers, and will be propelled by four Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) 12-710 Tier 4 compliant propulsion engines. For even more nerdy details about the ferries, you can read the press release on Marine Log when it was announced that Eastern Shipbuilding would build the boats.
SSG Michael H. Ollis and the accompanying class of vessels are named in honor of Staten Island native Michael H. Ollis, who was as a US Army Staff Sergeant. He served one tour in Iraq and was on a third in Afghanistan when he was killed by a suicide bomber in 2013. He was posthumously awarded a Distinguished Service Cross for shielding a Polish Lieutenant from the bomb that day.
The second ship to arrive will be the MV Sandy Ground, named for a settlement for African Americans on Staten Island within Rossville that dates to 1828. The third ship has not yet been named. However, the naming of the SSG Michael H. Ollis came from a groundswell of local support after Staten Island Borough President James Oddo announced that he would not have his name or any other politicians on the boats. Numerous petitions were launched afterwards in support of local heroes and figures, and the petition for Michael H. Ollis received almost 5,700 signatures. In a statement following the decision to name the boat, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “Staff Sergeant Ollis represented the very best of our city. For decades to come, the Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis will be an icon and a point of pride for Staten Island and the whole city.”
Next, check out the Secrets of the Staten Island Ferry.