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Here’s something to celebrate:  the 90th anniversary of fireboat John J. Harvey.  There’s a party, and you can get your tickets here.

From the 1931fireboat.org site, the fireboat was “the boat was launched in Brooklyn on October 6, 1931. and commissioned on December 17..” with many superlatives “the first fireboat powered by internal combustion engines and the first that could pump and maneuver simultaneously… the largest, fastest fire fighting machine of her time, capable of pumping 18,000 gallons per minute, roughly the equivalent of 20 terrestrial fire trucks. The innovations of her design influenced all subsequent fireboats.”  

Who was John J. Harvey?  “Firefighter John J. Harvey was pilot of the steam fireboat Thomas Willett. In February 1930 a fire broke out aboard the North German Lloyd Lines ship Muenchen.   Willett came alongside and her crew started working aboard the burning ship. The fire could not be contained and a series of massive explosions rocked Muenchen. The largest explosion sent a section of steel plate through the pilot house of Willett, killing Pilot Harvey instantly. All except for John J. Harvey survived the disaster.   John J. Harvey was the first New York City fireboat named after a member of the department.

In early October 1937 Mayor Fiorello inaugurated the two-way radio system, linking all nine FDNY fireboats.

The Harvey/Normandie story is complex;  even more so is the Harvey/World Trade Center story.

 

FDNY retired her in 1995, and “placed up for auction and bought by her present owners on February 11, 1999.”  Note the condition of her starboard propeller in drydock in 2000.   Refurbished, she made her first voyage on August 4, 1999. She performed and pumped well, signaling the first of many new trips as a preserved historic vessel.

She appears in many maritime festivals outside NYC, as here in Oyster Bay, and

here at the Waterford Tugboat Roundup.

To close out, here are some of my photos of Harvey, dazzled in memory of the camouflaged vessels of WW1.

 

She not only looks good:  she also moves, her bow slicing through the river as here in September 2013.

 

I once rode as guest on Harvey years ago . . . July 4, 2009, from Manhattan to Poughkeepsie, as reported here.

Happy b’day and long may she sail.

 

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