On Friday, June 26, 2020, Eastern Shipbuilding Group Inc. (ESG) launched the 320'x70'x21'6" Sandy Ground (Hull 220), the second of three new Staten Island “Ollis Class” ferries for the City of New York Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) Staten Island Ferry Division. The launch took place at Eastern’s Allanton facility in Panama City, Fla.

The three Ollis Class double-ended 4,500 passenger ferries are from a design provided by Elliot Bay Design Group, with each ferry featuring four Tier 4 ABS Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) 12-710 diesel engines with a combined 9,980 hp at 900 rpm. Two of the EMD marine propulsion engines power one ABS Reintjes DUP 3000 P combining gear and one ABS 36 RV6 ECS/285-2 Voith Schneider propeller at each end of the vessel.

Ship’s service power is provided by three EPA Tier 3 marine continuous duty diesel generator sets, Caterpillar C18 driving 480 V, 60 Hz, 3-phase generators rated at 425 kW at 0.8 P.F. at 1,800 rpm.

The new Staten Island Ollis Class Ferries series are named after fallen soldiers of the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, 'Climb to Glory', Army Staff Sgt. Michael H. Ollis, a Staten Island native killed in Afghanistan on Aug. 28, 2013 serving during Operation Enduring Freedom. The first of the series, Hull 219, is named in his honor. Staff Sgt. Michael H. Ollis, of the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light), stepped into the path of a Polish officer, blocking him from the suicide vest of an insurgent who had raided Forward Operating Base Ghazni. Ollis has received several honors posthumously including: Distinguished Service Cross, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Silver Star, The Audie Murphy Medallion, Polish Gold Star Medal of Honor, and the Afghanistan Star from Poland for his valor. He was 24 years old.

The Sandy Ground has a 13' draft, a crew of 16, seating for 2,551 passengers, and carries 30,000 gals. of fuel. The new ferry is ABS classed Maltese Cross A1, Ferry Service, River Service, Maltese Cross AMS Notation, and USCG certified, Subchapter H Passenger Vessel.

Eastern’s CEO Brian D’Isernia hosted the launch ceremony to Eastern’s employees, families, state and local government officials and guests in attendance. He detailed Eastern’s accomplishments since Hurricane Michael 18-months ago and building and delivering vessels during the COVID-19 pandemic. He is very proud of the entire Eastern Shipbuilding workforce and families for adjusting their work processes, lifestyles and providing outstanding performance despite our recent hurtles.

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.