Located over in Long Island Sound, docked off the Bronx, you’ll find the Vernon C. Bain Correctional Center prison barge. Yes, that’s right; a FLOATING PRISON. Interestingly enough, this structure is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest operational prison ship on Earth. What’s fascinating is that many New Yorkers are COMPLETELY unaware of its existence.
In the late 1980s, the New York Department of Correction experienced overcrowding issues in its prisons, so the administration of then-New York City Mayor Edward I. Koch sought to solve this issue by developing usable prison space with river barges (formerly British troop carriers), resulting in avoiding probable complaints regarding building jails in densely populated neighborhoods. The Bain Correctional Center is a 47,326-ton, 625-foot long by 125-foot wide flatbed barge is equipped with 14 dormitories and 100 cells for inmates. The prison has evolved throughout the decades to house different types of inmates, and it’s really not different from any conventional prison; it contains a recreational area consisting of basketball courts, worship chapel, medical facilities, and a library.
The construction of the prison ship started in 1989 at Avondale Shipyard by Avondale Industries and was supposed to be finished in 1990 at the price of $125.6 million. However, unanticipated issues (like the ventilation system) stretched out construction for another 18 months and added $35 million to the budget. On January 26, 1992, the new ship set sail, and was named for well-respected warden Vernon C. Bain, who had passed away after an automobile accident. In an odd way, this prison could become a model for this type (or ANY type) of building, and if New York’s fast-rising and values continue unabated, floating buildings could possibly become more common in the near future.