Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island
NEWPORT, R.I. (May 15, 2013) – Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island (OHPRI), the Rozalia Project, and the Atlantic Cup presented by 11th Hour Racing are banding together this month to provide 120 seventh and eighth graders from The Paul Cuffee Charter School in Providence, R.I. with a unique maritime learning experience on the Newport waterfront. On Thursday and Friday, May 23 and 24, at the Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina, 60 students will split into groups of 30 each and rotate between joining the Rozalia Project and their underwater robots to recover debris from the bottom of Newport Harbor and inspecting a fleet of Class 40 short-handed racing sailboats that are here for the third and final stop of the Atlantic Cup presented by 11th Hour Racing. The students also will tour Fort Adams, courtesy of the Fort Adams Trust and Oldport Marine, which will provided launch service.
The idea to join with the Rozalia Project’s education program as part of the Atlantic Cup was the brainchild of OHPRI’s Director of Operations Jess Wurzbacher (Jamestown, Rhode Island), who has been cultivating relationships with different Rhode Island schools as she develops the education program for the SSVOliver Hazard Perry, Rhode Island’s Official Sailing Education Vessel. “The Oliver Hazard Perry is preparing to offer Education at Sea programs, and we have been talking with many organizations about collaboration once the ship has been completed (in 2014),” said Wurzbacher, “but then we started thinking, why wait to get something tangible going? The time for collaborating and connecting kids on the water is now.”
OHPRI, the Rozalia Project, the Atlantic Cup presented by 11th Hour Racing and The Paul Cuffee School all link their education programs to the marine environment. OHPRI’s platform will be used by students throughout Rhode Island to study a wide range of subjects onboard the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry as she sails in New England and the Canadian Maritimes in the summer and south to Florida and the Caribbean in winter. The mission of the Rozalia Project’s Clean Ocean program is to find and remove marine debris, from the surface to the sea floor, through action, technology, outreach and research. Establishing a platform for public education that emphasizes the responsible use of energy and resources in the context of sailing is the purpose of 11th Hour Racing, whose sponsorship of the Atlantic Cup has created a short-handed Class 40 offshore race that minimizes the use of fossil fuels and impact on the marine environment. And finally, The Paul Cuffee School is a public charter school that meets the individual needs of Providence’s diverse students through a maritime-themed curriculum that cultivates independence, initiative, and a respect for the environment.
“This is just the type of hands-on learning opportunities that both deepen and extend our students’ academic knowledge,” said Michelle Bush, the Associate Principal and Special Educator from The Paul Cuffee School who also participated, with five other Rhode Island educators, last summer in the week-long OHPRI-sponsored journey aboard the Tall ShipGazela. “All of our programs—whether in the classroom, on the field, or in the community—foster cooperation, creative and critical thinking, and the development of personal and social responsibility.”
The trash-removal exercise and touring of the Atlantic Cup boats will take place at 9:30 and 12:30 on both days at the Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina, on the harbor’s east side. There, from the surface, students will take part in operating and maneuvering the Rozalia Project’s submersible VideoRay ROV (remotely operated vehicle). The size of a toaster oven, the ROV can take video and still pictures, carry a manipulator to grab everything from plastic bags to fishing traps and can carry sonars, positioning devices and more.
“We do not describe this as an awareness campaign; it’s about physically cleaning up rather than just pointing out the problem of marine debris,” said the Rozalia Project’s Executive Director Rachael Miller (Granville, Vermont), emphasizing that the Rozalia Project operates nationwide from docks and shorelines and throughout New England from its 60’ sailboat American Promise, where over the course of a summer 30 interns from fields such as ocean engineering, environmental studies and marine biology assist with accurate data collection and work with stakeholders (sailors, fishermen, boaters, citizens, schools, town leadership and more) to forward solutions.
“In the past, we have performed operations on the Fort Adams side of the harbor, where the bottom was sandy, and I have to guess that the city front will be similar but, with more boat traffic, maybe even more target rich,” added Miller. “Our first choice for trash disposal is re-use, like when we were able to give winch handles back to Sail Newport and vice grips back to Courageous Sailing. Our second is recycle, like when we find glass bottles, plastic bottles and aluminum cans. And the third is containment in a proper dumpster where the debris can’t blow back into the sea.”