New York's First Ollis-Class Ferry Commissioned Into Service

Courtesy NYC DOT

Published Oct 4, 2021 10:04 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Monday, Eastern Shipbuilding Group celebrated the commissioning of the SSG Michael H. Ollis, the first in a series of three 4,500 passenger ferries for the Staten Island Ferry system.

The ceremony in New York Harbor was hosted by the mayor's office and New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) and attended by city officials and dignitaries, including members of the Ollis family. New York Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis delivered remarks on behalf of ESG.

“This is a very special day for our company and the City of New York,” said Joey D’Isernia, President of Eastern Shipbuilding Group. “The Staten Island Ferry is an iconic transportation vessel recognized around the globe. For it to honor one of our fallen heroes makes it even more special. We are proud to deliver this extraordinary vessel despite the unprecedented challenges of a category 5 hurricane and a global pandemic, and are eager to see it provide comfortable and safe passage to millions of passengers each year.”

The vessel is the first of three Staten Island “Ollis Class” ferries that ESG is building for New York City. The new vessels are named after a soldier of the US Army 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, Army Staff Sgt. Michael H. Ollis, who was killed shielding his fellow soldiers from a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2013.

The ferries were constructed in ESG’s Allanton yard in Florida, and the company's newest facility in nearby Port St. Joe performed the outfitting, testing, and trials. The new ferries are larger, reflect modern technology, and will operate more safely in extreme weather conditions, according to ESG. They feature new amenities, such as more comfortable seating, phone-charging outlets and an oval upper-deck promenade that will serve as an outdoor “walking track” for ferry riders. 

They also incorporate design features that are part of the emergency response plan for the City of New York. Drawing on lessons from the 9/11 response, they can be connected to the city's new fire vessels - also built by Eastern Shipbuilding Group - to support evacuations and rescue.