The World’s Largest Prison Ship Turns 20 Years Old

Sleeps 800 comfortably…

Prison ships have been around for centuries. Let’s look at this behemoth today, shall we.

New York City Prison Barge, The Vernon C. Bain Center (VCBC), is an 800-bed jail barge that is designed to handle inmates from medium- to maximum-security in 16 dormitories and 100 cells. It resides on the East River approximately one mile west of SUNY Maritime College. The barge falls under the New York City Department of Corrections and is part of the vast Rikers Island jail complex, the world’s largest penal colony. The prison barge was built in New Orleans for $161 million and brought to New York in 1992 to reduce overcrowding on the island’s land-bound buildings. Since the jail is not permanently moored to the shore, Coast Guard regulations require that she have 3 maritime crew on board at all time, including a mate, an engineer and an oiler. With this in mind the blog, posed this question.

If an inmate or an employee is injured on the barge would it fall under admiralty jurisdiction? Believe it or not it appears the question has never been litigated, at least I can’t find it in my search of federal and New York cases.

The basketball court and “yard” area is in the upper left fenced section, beyond the blue piece.


gCaptain. (for photos and text)