The second of two new 108’x35’ fireboats was commissioned Monday at the Port of Long Beach, Calif., completing a program that the port said boosts firefighting capability by 400% for “the most robust waterborne safety of any container seaport in the world."

The Vigilance joined sistership Protector, replacing the late 1980s fireboats Challenger and Liberty, designed when the port was typically serviced 4,500-TEU capacity containerships. Now Long Beach regularly sees 14,000-TEU ships and expects larger vessels, like the 18,000- to 22,000-TEU ships planned by carrier CMA CGM.

“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,” Mario Cordero, the port’s executive director, said in announcing the vessel is in service. “They are vital to ensure the flow of commerce, and important parts of the best-in-nation services we provide our customers.”

The fireboats built by Foss Maritime Co., Seattle, each carry 10 monitors capable projecting more than 41,000 gpm, four times the output of the old fireboats, over ranges the length of two football fields, and higher than a 20-story building.

The design by Robert Allan Ltd., Vancouver, British Columbia, incorporates other capabilities, including protecting the crew amid chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, and vessel dewatering, towing and dive support. The boats have medical treatment facilities for EMS and paramedics, boom deployment to contain spills, onboard cranes, and can serve as operations command centers.

The project team included staff from the port, Long Beach Fire Department, Robert Allan, Foss and construction manager Jensen Maritime Consultants, Seattle.

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.

On the new boats, propulsion comes from a pair of Caterpillar 3512C main engines, combining for 2,012 hp, turning Voith Schneider propellers for a top speed of 12 knots. The boats are designed for low wake wash of less than 12″ at 8 knots, and an onsite endurance of five days. The wheelhouses have both forward and aft control stations, where pilots can use low-speed maneuvering and zero-speed station keeping with the Voith propulsion system.

Two more Cat 3512Cs and one Cat C12 engine are harnessed with the drive engines to power seven firefighting pumps, ranging in size from 2,000 gpm to 8,000 gpm for a total aggregate capacity of 41,000 gpm.

The largest of 10 monitors can deliver 12,000 gpm at a 600′ range, exceeding National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Type II fireboat requirements. Nine other monitors range from 1,500 to 6,000 gpm. Two of those monitors can direct 6,000 gpm of foam at a range of 500′. For shoreside supply, the boats can put out up to 22,000 gpm.


Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.