Why Doesn’t The Navy Have Fireboat In San Diego?

Watching the San Diego police boats responding to the uss bonhomme richard fire was like watching those people who try to save their house from a forest fire with garden hoses.

The navy has many billions in assets in the harbor but not a single proper fireboat? WTF?

Even worse is the fact that a fireboat’s primary mission is not fighting ship fires. It’s providing additional water capacity to the city’s water supply. This is critically important in earthquake zones (like san diego!) where landside pumps can be damaged during quakes.


Good question, pretty ludicrous if this is true. Rotterdam harbour has in total seven fire fighting boats. They are replacing these boats now by a new generation which is much more powerful.

Not 10,000 liters, but 30,000 liters of fire fighting water per minute sprays the new fire fighting boat from the Municipal Port of Rotterdam (GHR). Five of the seven old boats, dating from the early 1960s, will be replaced this year.

Maybe they could be interesting for US Navy?

1 Like

As far as the City of San Diego goes, marine firefighting is handled by the Harbor Police, not the Fire Department. I cannot fathom why that makes sense.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t think any of the Navy yards have dedicated fireboats, not just San Diego. Don’t they rely on the surrounding areas for harbor tugs (navy and commercial) for fire fighting protection?

The Navy probably hasn’t had a fireboat in 30 years or more. Yes, almost all of the stateside Navy tugs are gone; more work for our merchie friends I suppose. When you only get so much money a year (which is still admittedly a lot) everything that doesn’t send rounds downrange tends to be treated as a cost, not a capability. I wouldn’t hold my breath for this incident to change that mentality either…


Where did all these Firefighting tugs come from?:

Photo copied from gcaptain.news

Those are just the local harbor tugs.

For probably 0.0001 percent the cost of a single fireboat the Navy could hire a few more “federal fire fighters” and use them as fire watchmen and roving “fire rangers” for ships in maintenance and yard periods.

Speculation of course but it sure looks like no one cared much about barrels of lube oil and piles of flammable material stacked from stem to stern and exposed to all manner of metalworking.


So firefighting capacity IS available in San Diego.
They didn’t appear on early pictures of the firefighting effort though.
Did the Navy have to sign a contract before they would appear on the scene???

1 Like

Here, where the bean counters rule, the harbour boards decided that firefighting was not a core responsibility, and neither is emergency towing outside harbour limits. Only two ports have any tugs with fire fighting equipment. The fire department does own any and with the winding down of the oil patch and departure of OSV”s left us somewhat on a limb if anything happens.

:thinking: I’m no historian but I so seem to recall a highly embarrassing incident when the US navy had Parked a lot ships capable of “ putting rounds downrange“ near eachother with very little few salvage and firefighting units nearby.

I think it was called Pearl something or other?Not Pearl River but Pearl something with an H. :roll_eyes:


Apparently one of the tug captains called the Navy during the first moments of the fire and was told the police boats could handle it. :roll_eyes:


If by ‘local harbor tugs’ you mean MSC contracted tractor-like tugs working for the Navy base providing towing and emergency and firefighting services, then yes—‘local’…


I look forward to your robust efforts to lobby Congress to afford the Navy enough fireboats to fight over a dozen ship conflagrations at the same time. Because that is a realistic capability to have. :roll_eyes:

Unfortunately I am a history guy and know the story of the yard tug USS Hoga, which basically went from performing one heroic act to the next all throughout the battle. Her entire story is amazing; worth a few minute read, IMO:

1 Like

We got enough problems of our own on the merchant side with 1/1000th your funding…so, sorry, but I don’t time to tell congress why the tens of billions spent on the Zumwalt class should have been spent on more practical ships like salvage vessels, icebreakers, simple destroyers, etc.

But feel free to let your friends know that my consulting rates, while ridiculously steep for a merchant marine company, are a fraction of price of the McKinsey and company Harvard clowns who signed off on the plan that got us to today. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


The tugboats contracted by the Navy “should have” fire fighting included in the contract? IF the USN didn’t require that, then the USN needs to have some other source for waterborne f/f. Be that govt fire boat, private fire boat company or was this capabiliityunder the Federal Fire Dept in SDGO?

Guess they just want to ignore your comment??

1 Like

No they see it, the OP ‘liked’ it which suggests that even though it corrects the misapprehension of the OP, it is understood.

The nature of the contract—from an online source includes:

“ the time charter of up to six U.S.-flagged tractor-like tugs for use at the port of San Diego, California, and surrounding waters to service a variety of naval surface and subsurface vessels. /1/ Services included towing, mooring, berthing, docking, undocking, escorting identified naval vessels, providing emergency support services, and firefighting.”

This is from an old protest, so number details may be different but services surely the same.

1 Like

3 posts were merged into an existing topic: USS Bonhomme Richard LHD6 on fire alongside in San Diego

Yeah as if you couldn’t already tell from the pic they are ECO boats.

I worked with a guy at ECO that worked his way up to the wheel house. After the layoffs he waited a year to get on those boats ( he lives in SD). I drove by on the chance I’d see him. He was back on deck buffing. Wasn’t very happy. Met another guy at the hall that worked on those boats. He also didn’t speak so highly of that job. He especially mentioned the Captains, he wasn’t a fan.

1 Like