A new fireboat was officially welcomed into service at the Port of Long Beach on June 8, representing what the port calls “a significant leap forward” in protecting its harbor and flow of trade.
In a dockside ceremony attended by roughly 100 invited guests, the fireboat Protector was dedicated in memory of Donald Domenic DiMarzo, a former Long Beach Fire Department captain.
DiMarzo served as a fire marshal aboard the USS Intrepid in the Pacific during World War II and 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 Nov. 25, 1944.
Protector, built by Foss Shipyard in Seattle, 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 boat can also 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.
Protector and a second, still-under-construction boat, Vigilance, are replacing the port’s fireboats Challenger and Liberty, which began service in the late 1980s and were designed in an era where vessels carried 4,500 containers. The largest vessels calling in Long Beach now have a capacity of 18,000 containers, with even larger ships expected in the future.
The construction cost is $51.6 million for the two boats, including $18.5 million in grant funding from Homeland Security's Port Security Grant Program.
“These new fireboats are specifically designed for the big ship era,” Port of Long Beach CEO Jon Slangerup said in a statement. “They’re amazing, state-of-the art machines built to protect the ships of today and tomorrow.”
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.
“Protector is a major improvement in our emergency response capabilities, helping us to safeguard both the Port and our community,” Harbor Commission President Lori Ann Guzmán said.
In addition to the port and city fire department, the fireboat project team and partners include Foss Maritime Co., Jensen Maritime Consultants, Robert Allan Ltd., the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Administration.