Tug Designer Finds 'Independence' in Philadelphia

The fast response, shallow draft fireboat 'Independence' is powered by four 615 kW main engines, each driving a Hamilton waterjet.

Although internationally well known for its prolific output of tug designs, Vancouver based Robert Allan Ltd is not averse to bidding for other types of contract. Shortly before Christmas the City of Philadelphia Fire Department commissioned ' Independence' , the new RAnger 2000 Class fireboat designed by Robert Allan Ltd and built by Derektor Shipyards of Bridgeport in Connecticut. RAL worked closely with the City of Philadelphia Fire Department and Office of Fleet Management personnel to develop the final design details and specifications. RAL also oversaw construction throughout the build period.

The new fast response, shallow draft fireboat is of all welded aluminium construction and designed specifically to address the firefighting and rescue needs of the Philadelphia region's waterfront. It is equipped to provide emergency services along the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers and in service will have a regional responsibility from as far north as Trenton, New Jersey and south to the Delaware Bay.Consequently, the vessel has extreme water depth and air draft constraints, the latter at 18 feet to navigate under city bridges. The boat is also strengthened to operate in the thin ice which forms in this region.

The 20.15m LOA craft features a moulded beam of 6m and a maximum draft of 0.81m. Its fuel capacity of 6,095 litres is sufficient for eight hours of continuous firefighting, including deployment and return to base.

Power is supplied by four MTU Series 60 main engines rated at 615 kW each and each driving a Hamilton HJ403 waterjet. This unusual package delivers a normal response speed of 28 knots but careful weight management allowed the fully loaded vessel to achieve 36 knots during trials. The two inboard engines are also connected to the two main fire pumps at their forward ends. Thus all four engines are utilised to achieve top speed in an emergency response, then the two inboard engines are declutched from the jets and used to drive the fire pumps while the outboard waterjets are used to control he boat's position and heading.

Other unique features of the design include the carriage of all fuel in tanks isolated from the main hull in order to mitigate any risk of fuel spill and push knees on the bow for when holding station against piers or other vessels. The wheelhouse is fitted with all round, overhead viewing windows.

During mobilisation the fireboat will be manned by a pilot and engineer from the Philadelphia Fire Marine Division, along with firefighters from land based units.

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