Second Staten Island Ferry departs Eastern Shipbuilding yard

The second of three Staten Island Ferry boats departed Eastern Shipbuilding’s docks in Port St. Joe on Dec. 9, bound for New York City and leaving only one more ferry to be completed.


The Sandy Ground, Hull 200, was tugged out of the bay by Sarah Dann with Dann’s Ocean Towing to begin its 14-day journey around the Florida peninsula and up the eastern coastline of the United States. According to a release from the shipbuilder, the ferry has already passed inspections and can be put to use immediately when it arrives.


Eastern Shipbuilding began work on three vessels for the Ollis Class Staten Island Ferry for the City of New York Department of Transportation early this year, a few months before the shipyard was officially opened in July.


“I am pleased to announce the newest Staten Island Ferry, Sandy Ground, is being delivered to New York City. This vessel honors our nation’s African-American heritage and will tell the story of the landmark Sandy Ground community,” said Joey D’Isernia, President of Eastern Shipbuilding Group. “These incredible vessels are receiving international recognition for their superior design and capabilities. We thank our partners for their dedication and exceptional quality in the production of these ferries.”


The boat is named after one of the country’s first Black settlements, established by freed slaves on Staten Island’s South shore almost two centuries ago. 


Sandy Ground’s history as a freed slave community dates to 1828, when Capt. John Jackson, a Black ferry boat operator, became the first African American to own property on Staten Island. Over time, Sandy Ground was settled by African American oystermen, who contributed greatly to New York’s booming oyster trade. 


The vessel’s class, Ollis, was named for fallen soldier of the US Army 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, ‘Climb to Glory’, Army Staff Sgt. Michael H. Ollis. Ollis, a Staten Island native, was killed shielding fellow soldiers from a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2013.


Ollis Class ferries are larger than past models, and they are designed to function more safely in extreme weather conditions. 


The boats are designed to help implement the emergency response plan put in place by New York City following the Sept. 11 attacks and can be used in conjunction with the New York fire vessels, which are also built by Eastern Shipbuilding, in case of emergency.


Port St. Joe waved goodbye to the first completed ferry in August. The third and final boat, the Dorothy Day, is expected to be completed in 2022.


Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper NonDoc.com during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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