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[graphic] Historic Fireboat Aids in New York city Response and Recovery at the World Trade Center


[photo]
Fireboat John J. Harvey
National Register Photograph

The John J. Harvey, a large fireboat listed in the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places, aided in relief and evacuation efforts at the World Trade Center on Tuesday, September 11th. Upon learning of the disaster at the World Trade Center, friends and crew of the historic fireboat met at John J. Harvey and made the decision to take her south from Pier 63 to help at the World Trade Center. Normally afloat at Pier 63, North River, at the west end of 23rd Street in Manhattan, the John J. Harvey joined in a group of tug boats and ferries to help in evacuation efforts. The John J. Harvey transported some 150 people from the sea wall near the Battery north to Pier 40. En route, the New York City Fire Department radioed a request that the John J. Harvey drop off her passengers as quickly as possible and tie up adjacent to the World Trade Center site to provide pumping capacity, as hydrants were not working. The fireboat joined New York Fire Department boats on the sea wall in North River, the closest proximity possible to World Trade Center 2, to provide the only water available at the site. Fire hoses wielded from the fireboat Wednesday provided the only area at the site that was not covered by choking dust. This area later became the main supply center for the emergency crews. The John J. Harvey worked non-stop at the site until Friday night, September 14, after hydrants had been restored. Countless friends and supporters made Harvey their base for volunteering in the emergency, working on shore on clean-up, rescue work and organization.


[photo]
Fireboat John J. Harvey
National Register Photograph

The John J. Harvey will turn 70 this October. Supporters of the fireboat expressed pride that the ship was saved, thus allowing her to work for New York City during the crisis. The fireboat was built in 1931 at the Todd Shipbuilding and Dry-Dock Corporation in Brooklyn, NY and updated in 1957. She played a large role in protecting the New York Harbor in the 1930s and into World War II when the port was used as a staging area for convoys supplying troops, munitions and petroleum to Europe. As a fireboat, John J. Harvey was instrumental in extinguishing fires that took place along the water, including the 1932 five alarm fire that destroyed Cunard’s Pier 54 and a fire aboard the former French liner, Normandie, that eventually capsized the vessel at her dock. The Harvey also became famous for her water displays in which she welcomed prominent ships to New York. In 1959, all of New York City’s fireboats were redesignated as marine companies. Since the 1960s New York Harbor has changed dramatically and fireboats have been made smaller in order to deal with small pleasure craft, rather than the grand ocean liners of the past. In 1994, John J. Harvey was retired from service and auctioned to her current owners. She has since been restored. The steel boat measures 130 feet length overall, and weighs 268 gross tons and was entered in the National Register of Historic Places on June 15, 2000.


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