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Mayor de Blasio Commissions Staff Sergeant Michael H. Ollis, City's First New Staten Island Ferry in 16 Years

October 4, 2021

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Ollis was a New Dorp resident killed in 2013 saving the life of a fellow soldier in Afghanistan

$85 million, state-of-the-art ferry to set sail later this year

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio, Department of Transportation Commissioner Hank Gutman, and Staten Island Borough President Jimmy Oddo today officially commissioned the Staff Sergeant Michael H. Ollis, the first new Staten Island Ferry vessel added to the fleet since 2005. The $85 million, state-of-the-art ferry is named for Michael H. Ollis, a New Dorp resident who was killed in Afghanistan saving the life of a fellow soldier in 2013. The Mayor was joined at the ceremony by honored guests, including members of the Ollis family.

The ferry has completed harbor trials and passed U.S. Coast Guard inspections, and will serve passengers for the first time later this year.

“Staff Sergeant Ollis represented the best of New York City, and we’re proud to honor his legacy with a beautiful addition to the iconic Staten Island Ferry fleet,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “With two more new ferries on the way, we’re transforming this system into the modern, reliable, safe fleet Staten Island deserves – and we’ll carry Michael’s name with us every day the boat is in our harbor.”

“The Staten Island Ferry is an iconic part of New York City, and the SSG Michael H. Ollis is a beautiful addition to the fleet,” said DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman. “In addition to the Ollis family, we thank the wide array of state and federal agencies and elected officials whose support made this day possible. To New Yorkers beyond Staten Island, we remind you that there has never been a better time to catch a free sunset ride across New York harbor.”

"The SSG Michael H. Ollis serves as a vivid reminder of the 93 New York City Veterans who have given their lives in combat operations during the wars since 9/11 and of their sacrifices in defending our freedoms. We are grateful to the city for recognizing the selflessness of Michael Ollis by naming the newest Staten Island Ferry after him," said DVS Commissioner James Hendon.

“Michael Ollis was a kid from Staten Island who grew into a man, who became a soldier, and then a bonafide hero,” said Borough President James S. Oddo. “He is the son of Bob and Linda Ollis; he embodied their decency and integrity throughout his life and the roots of his heroism clearly can be traced back to how he was raised by his Mom and Dad. His remarkable story lives on as the Ollis Class of Staten Island Ferry boats will service generations of Staten Islanders, and Staten Islanders and New Yorkers can show their respect and appreciation by knowing his story. Mayor de Blasio made the right call in recognizing this remarkable young man, and I hope this commissioning creates a moment of unity for our community.”

“It is a privilege to help honor Staff Sergeant Michael H. Ollis at this commissioning of a new Ferry named in his honor,” said Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York. “Jesus said ‘there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for another.’ That is precisely what Sergeant Ollis did, when he shielded an injured fellow soldier in battle, and gave his own life instead. May his example inspire our fellow New Yorkers and all those who will use this vessel for years to come.”

The SSG Michael H. Ollis is the first of three new, 4,500-passenger ferries commissioned by the de Blasio administration since 2014, with support from funds provided by a range of federal agencies and elected officials, including U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. The mayor first announced its name alongside Borough President Oddo and the Ollis family in 2016. The three new ferries will be larger, more modern, and safer in extreme weather than the existing fleet. They will feature popular design elements of past Staten Island Ferries, including phone-charging outlets and more comfortable seating, as well as an oval upper-deck promenade that will for the first time serve as an outdoor “walking track” for riders.

The second boat in the Ollis class, the Sandy Ground, honors one of the nation’s first Black settlements – located on Staten Island’s South Shore, which also served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. With a name originally championed by Council Member Debi Rose, the Sandy Ground is expected to arrive in New York in December 2021 and begin regular passenger service in 2022. The third boat in the Ollis class is named for Dorothy Day, the legendary Catholic peace activist who lived on Staten Island. It will arrive in 2022. 

“Naming this wonderful, new ferry for Staten Islander, Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis, is an appropriate honor for a man who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this nation,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer. “His service will live on in the newest addition to the Staten Island Ferry Fleet. No New Yorkers have harder, longer commutes that Staten Islanders, which is why I am so proud to have delivered the money to acquire this modern, clean and safe new ferry that is now named for Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis.”

“I am proud to welcome the Ollis to the Staten Island ferry fleet, a great honor for a brave hero. Later this year, New Yorkers will be able to enjoy a more comfortable, modern, and safer experience getting where they need to go,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

“The Staten Island Ferry is one of New York City’s most iconic symbols and an integral part of our city’s transportation system,” said Congress Member Nicole Malliotakis, a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis is our hometown hero and we’re honored to welcome this state-of-the-art ship that bears his name into the city’s fleet in recognition of the ultimate sacrifice he made for our nation.”

“Today, New York City immortalizes the name Michael Ollis with the commissioning of the first of the OIlis class ferries,” said State Senator Andrew Lanza. “SSG Ollis is a hero who valiantly served our nation and gave his life in defense of freedom and the American way. With the commissioning of the SSG. Michael H. Ollis Ferry, we permanently etch his sacrifice and shining example into the hearts and minds of the millions of people who fittingly ride past the Statue of Liberty every year.”

“The legacy of Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis will never be forgotten,” said State Senator Diane Savino. “I hope his family finds comfort in this tribute and the thousands of people who ride the new Ollis ferry will always be reminded of the sacrifice he made for this country.”

“Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis was a true hero who courageously gave his life in an act of selfless service to his nation and his fellow soldiers,” said Assembly Member Michael J. Cusick.  “Few things are more synonymous with Staten Island than the Staten Island Ferry and we are now thrilled to welcome the newest ship in the fleet which bares Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis’ name. This new class of ships is a fitting tribute to a Staten Islander who in his life and in his death exemplified the service and sacrifice of a true American hero.”

“It is Staff Sgt. Michael H. Ollis’ dedication to service and unwavering commitment that perfectly defines who we are as Staten Islanders,” said Assembly Member Michael Reilly. “This new ferry boat commemorates Staff Sgt. Ollis’ legacy, of course, but, more importantly, serves as tribute to the duty and determination of our community. I thank the Ollis family for ensuring that their son’s legacy lives on, and I want to thank the hardworking men and women of our Department of Transportation and all our borough’s essential workers who epitomize Staff Sgt. Ollis’ legacy each and every day.”

“Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis’ name will now be preserved and displayed on Staten Island’s newest ferry vessel for thousands of commuters and travelers to see on a daily basis,” said Council Member Joseph Borelli. “It’s an honor to recognize his distinguished service to our nation on one of the largest and busiest ferry systems in the world.”

"This new, state-of-the-art ferry will not only transport Staten Islanders in safety and comfort, it will also serve as a lasting tribute to a hometown hero, reminding generations of ferry riders of the sacrifice and bravery of Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis," said Council Minority Leader Steven Matteo.

“The Staten Island ferry is not only an integral part of our city’s mass transportation system, but it’s also a fascinating tourist attraction,” said Council Member Deborah Rose. “The SSG Michael H. Ollis is a most welcome addition to our ferry fleet and a fitting tribute to a genuine American hero. Staff Sergeant Michael Ollis, a Staten Islander, was killed in 2013 while serving in Afghanistan. He was rescuing a wounded Polish lieutenant when a suicide bomber approached and set off his explosives. He was awarded the Silver Star for his gallantry. I thank the Ollis family for their sacrifice and thank all of the federal, state and elected officials whose support made the commissioning of this ferry possible.”

"Michael Ollis’s sacrifice is proof that in moments of peril, heroes still walk among us - and they wear the uniform of the United States military,” said Former Rep. Max Rose. “May we forever honor Michael's heroic service and selfless sacrifice. Thank you to Bob and Linda. Your powerful love for your son and unshakable commitment to honoring his service will ensure that millions upon millions of people from every corner of the world who ride this ferry will learn of and forever be impacted by Michael's heroism and patriotism." 

“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.”

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