The Port of Long Beach has welcomed into service the first of two new state-of-the-art fireboats that will the port help become more ‘big ship’ ready in the future.
The fireboat, named Protector, was dedicated during a ceremony held Wednesday in memory of Donald Domenic DiMarzo, a former Long Beach Fire Department captain and fire marshal aboard the USS Intrepid in the Pacific during World War II. DiMarzo was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service for leading efforts to save the aircraft carrier after an attack that set it ablaze on November 25, 1944.
Protector is 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 existing fireboats. The fireboat can shoot water the length of two football fields, and higher than a 20-story building, meaning firefighters can throw water or foam anywhere aboard the world’s largest container ships and oil tankers.
The new, multi-mission fireboats can also assist with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. Other features include facilities for medical treatment, a command information center, boom deployment to contain spills and an onboard crane.
“We have to be prepared for any potential hazard,” said Harbor Commission President Lori Ann Guzmán. “Protector is a major improvement in our emergency response capabilities, helping us to safeguard both the Port and our community.”
Protector and a second, still-under-construction boat, “Vigilance,” will replace the Port’s fireboats “Challenger” and “Liberty,” which began service in the late 1980s and were designed during an era when vessels were carrying 4,500 containers. Earlier this year, the Port of Long Beach welcomed its first ‘megaship’, the MV CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, with a 18,000 containers. Although there are no firm plans to bring more ‘megaships’ to the port at the moment, the Port of Long Beach says it expects even larger ships coming in the future.
“These new fireboats are specifically designed for the Big Ship Era,” said Port of Long Beach CEO Jon Slangerup. “They’re amazing, state-of-the art machines built to protect the ships of today and tomorrow.”
The construction cost for the two boats is $51.6 million, including $18.5 million in grant funding from Homeland Security’s Port Security Grant Program.
Design for the two boats was provided by Robert Allan Naval Architecture. Other partners in the project included Foss Maritime Co., Jensen Maritime Consultants, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Administration.