A second, new fireboat was officially brought into service Monday at the Port of Long Beach, completing a program to provide the most robust waterborne safety of any container seaport in the world.
“Vigilance” was dedicated in a dockside ceremony for the late Long Beach Harbor Commissioner Dr. John Kashiwabara, a Korean War veteran who served as a commissioner from 1996-2002 and was the first Japanese American named to the Board. He died in 2010.
Vigilance joins “Protector,” dedicated in 2016. The vessels replace “Challenger” and “Liberty,” which began service in the late 1980s and were designed in an era of vessels carrying 4,500 containers. The largest vessel that has now called in Long Beach carried 18,000 containers, and the Port regularly services 14,000-container vessels. Larger ships are expected in the future.
“These fireboats are technological marvels, able to turn on a dime, move sideways and throw water or foam anywhere on the world’s largest container ships and oil tankers,” said Port Executive Director Mario Cordero. “They are vital to ensure the flow of commerce, and important parts of the best-in-nation services we provide our customers.”
Vigilance and its twin Protector are equipped with 10 water cannons capable of extinguishing fires in the harbor or on nearby land with more than 41,000 gallons per minute — four times the output of the previous fireboats. They can shoot water the length of two football fields, and higher than a 20-story building.
The fireboats have a suite of other emergency response features, including facilities for medical treatment, a Command Information Center, boom deployment to contain spills and an onboard crane. They can also assist with chemical, biological and nuclear threats.
“Vigilance and Protector will live up to their names in safeguarding the nation’s second-busiest seaport and represent a major upgrade in firefighting and security at the Port of Long Beach,” said Harbor Commission President Lou Anne Bynum.
“A capable fleet of fireboats that bring the best modern technology has to offer is essential in minimizing loss and maximizing business continuity for the Port,” said Long Beach Fire Chief Mike DuRee. “These amazing vessels will help us better serve the Port of Long Beach.”
The project team included staff from the Port and the Long Beach Fire Department, naval architect Robert Allan Ltd., builder Foss Maritime Co. and construction manager Jensen Maritime Consultants.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency provided an $18.5 million grant toward the cost of the first of the two fireboats, which together cost $51.6 million to construct.
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