OpSail Connecticut, Inc.

Welcome to the home of OpSail Connecticut’s Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival. OpSail Connecticut hosts this Festival in the Port of New London annually to “Celebrate the Sea” and give visitors the opportunity to interact with those who work on, under or with the sea. Visit often to see the latest in festivities, unravel the fabric of Connecticut’s maritime history and appreciate how the sea unites our shores. OpSail Connecticut, Inc. was incorporated in 2012 to further the mission imagined by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. President Kennedy created Operation Sail events nationwide to promote good will and cooperation among countries, celebrate maritime history and provide sail training.

These events brought together military ships and tall ships from many nations, as part of the annual International Naval Review, featuring present-day warships from various navies. Six national OpSail events have been held to date, in 1964, 1976, 1986, 1992, 2000 and 2012. The Port of New London was honored to take part in the OpSail events held in 2000 and 2012.

OpSail Connecticut, Inc. has continued the tradition to “Celebrate the Sea” and its lore by producing the annual Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival at the Port of New London. Held the second weekend in September, the Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival honors all those who work on, under or with the sea in naval, marine and other maritime industries. We aim to celebrate Connecticut’s maritime heritage by emphasizing the State’s diverse population and showing the ways the seas have brought people from all over the world to Connecticut. Typically held in the heart of New London at its Waterfront Park, the festival sometimes utilizes nearby Fort Trumbull State Park when large Naval ships participate.

The Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival seeks to “Unite our Shores” by providing a family friendly weekend event filled with opportunities to learn about and interact with:

  • military personnel and the vessels that our U.S. military use to protect our shores and its citizens;
  • maritime services including government agencies and vessels that protect our fisheries, natural resources, and environment; and
  • other sectors of the maritime industry ranging from aquaculture and fisheries to other commercial vessels and ventures focused on everything from transportation to energy.

OpSail Connecticut, Inc. works closely with area schools to provide leadership opportunities associated with a maritime structure. The Festival always features kids activities.

OpSail Connecticut, Inc. is a non-profit organization (501-c3) comprised of volunteers with an interest in maritime history. It is organized into an Executive Board and Board of Directors. The Board is further divided into the Events Committee with various ad-hoc work groups that may include subject matter experts who are not on the Board.

2021 – 2023 Members

Executive Board Position

Melissa Root, Ph.D.


David Crocker

Vice President

Linda Mariani, Esq.


Ed Hellenbrecht


Christopher Zendan

Ex-Officio At Large

Dante Piacenza

Chair,  CT Maritime Heritage Fest

Board of Directors

Marie Gravell

New London

Edward Chale

US Coast Guard Auxiliary

Marc Herring, USCG Aux., Division Chief

Adjunct Professor of Psychology  (Ret.)

Mayor Keith Hedrick

City of Groton

Christopher Flynn

New London

Katherine Moran

OCS/USCG Academy

Mayor Michael Passero

City of New London

Eleanor Mariani

Past Chair, CMHF

Military Liaisons


LT Jonathan Roth – USCG

Sector Long Island Sound

David Santos

USCG Academy

Christopher Zendan

US Submarine Base

Mark Jones

US Submarine Base


Elena Roy


Barbara Neff

Event Manager

Pete Hary

Quinn + Hary Marketing

Thor Torgersen

Web & Graphic Design

The Board generally meets the 4th Tuesday of the month and the Events Committee meets the 2nd Tuesday of the month. The Executive Board meets as necessary to conduct business.

Contact Us

OpSail Connecticut, Inc.
56 Howard Street
New London, CT  06320
860- 443-3786