World’s Largest Prison Ship: Where else? New York City!   Leave a comment


A prison ship, often more precisely termed prison hulk, is a vessel (usually unseaworthy) salvaged as a prison, often to hold convicts or with the British, often civilian internees, awaiting transportation to a penal colony. This practice was popular with the British government in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Today there is one prison ship left in the world. The Vernon C. Bain Correctional Center is a prison barge operated by the New York City Department of Corrections as an adjunct to Rikers Island, opened in 1992. However, it was built for this purpose rather than repurposed.

It is an 800-bed jail barge used to hold inmates for the New York City Department of Corrections. It was built in New Orleans along the Mississippi River for $161 million in Avondale Shipyard, and brought to New York in 1992 to reduce overcrowding in the island’s land-bound buildings for a lower price. Nicknamed “The Boat” by prison staff and inmates, it is designed to handle inmates from medium- to maximum-security in 16 dormitories and 100 cells.

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Aerial photo of Rikers Island, seen from the North. Bain Correctional Center is seen in the bottom left corner as the docked blue and white ship.

The 625-foot long by 125-foot wide flatbed barge is equipped with 14 dormitories and 100 cells for inmates. For recreation, there is a full-size gym with basketball court, weight lifting rooms and an outdoor recreation facility on the roof. There are three worship chapels, a modern medical facility and a library open to inmate use. The 47,326-ton facility was on the water, so when it opened, a minimum of three maritime crew was maintained under Coast Guard regulations. According to John Klumpp, the barge’s first captain, in 2002, “the Coast Guard, after years of monitoring the prison barge, finally accepted the reality that that it was, de facto, a jail and not a boat.” The prison ship is located approximately one mile away from SUNY Maritime college.

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Posted December 30, 2015 by markosun in Uncategorized

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