Perry-class frigate project in Erie approved by Erie County Council
An ongoing effort to bring a US Navy frigate to Erie received its final approval on Tuesday.
In a unanimous vote, Erie County Council approved a resolution to support the Oliver Hazard Perry Shipyard and its goal of bringing a decommissioned Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate to Almost Isle Bay and converting it into a a floating naval museum.
Perry Shipyard CEO Joe Pfadt said approval plays a critical role in the Navy’s bid process.
“It shows there’s a base of support that’s broader than our organization – it’s very helpful and great to have,” Pfadt told the Erie Times-News.
Pfadt said he hopes to get similar approval from the Erie City Council.
Frigate Project in ErieThe Museum of Floating Warships still on the prowl in Près Isle Bay
If approved, the project would spearhead the transport of a 450-foot-long Perry-class frigate from the Philadelphia shipyard to the less-developed eastern basin of Près Isle Bay.
There, the ship would become a museum and a convenient gathering place for families, students and veterans, said Pfadt, who estimated an economic impact of $18 million for the region.
“Having the only (Perry-class frigate) – and it would be the only one – on display, there would be people from all over the country who would want to come hang out here,” Pfadt said.
First, Perry’s shipyard must convince the Navy to donate the $122 million ship — and that requires a three-phase application process.
Perry Shipyard applied to the Navy in early 2020.
During the first phase of the bid, the nonprofit showcased Erie’s relationship with Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry – who won the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812 – and the educational potential and tour of a Perry-class frigate at Près Isle Bay.
The Navy has since selected USS Halyburton, one of the few Perry-class frigates mothballed at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, as a potential choice for Erie.
On Tuesday, Pfadt said Perry Shipyard was in Phase 2 of the bidding process, which involves a slew of environmental, technical, tourism and economic impact studies that must be submitted by September.
At this point, the Navy will undertake a thorough documentation review before proceeding to Phase 3, which involves a new planning cycle for towing and mooring the vessel. That, in turn, would require another review by the Navy.
Pfadt said an expected arrival date for the frigate in Erie is difficult to predict because it depends solely on the Navy’s review process.
Issues RaisedThe frigate proposal raises many questions
He added that the nonprofit needed to raise $3 million to tow and dock the ship in Erie. They have already raised over a million dollars in donations.
The vessel will require $400,000 in annual maintenance costs, which Pfadt says can be covered by a self-sufficient business plan.
World War II Submarine ReturnsUSS Cod returns to Cleveland
County Council Chairman Brian Shank on Tuesday hailed the project as a way to bring the Erie community together and celebrate veterans, especially the 110,000 sailors who served on Perry-class ships and who would like to set foot on it again.
Council Vice-Chair Mary Rennie followed suit.
“It’s a wonderful example of what a community spirit can still accomplish in Erie County,” she told the Erie Times-News. “I am particularly pleased that the project has a long-term operational plan to ensure it will always be a benefit and not a cost to taxpayers.”
To donate to the project or for more information, visit the Oliver Hazard Perry Shipyard website at perryshipyard.com.