The historic John J Harvey has been named as 2018’s Tug Of The Year for the 19th annual Tugboat Roundup.
The Roundup is an annual gathering of historic and working tugboats and other work vessels in Waterford in the fall. Each year they honor a boat with a particular history on New York State’s waterways.
John J Harvey was in the New York City Fire Department service for 63 years. Launched in 1931 as the most powerful fireboat in the world, the Harvey can still pump an amazing 18,000 gallons of water a minute. This was the first fireboat for the department with an internal combustion engine and was named for a marine fireman who was killed while working a ship explosion in New York harbor.
Recent fame for the Harvey came after its retirement. Nearly scrapped in 1999, the boat was bought at auction at the last minute by a group of people interested in marine history. Still a dream project with a small budget two years later, the crew on this boat immediately went to the docks on the morning of September 11, 2001 after a radio from the US Coast Guard for “All ships.” Every boat capable of carrying passengers was being asked to come to lower Manhattan as the World Trade Center disaster unfolded. The crew on board the Harvey thought they would help move people but, when FDNY saw the boat they asked if the pumps still worked because there was no water available at the World Trade Center to fight the fires. The crew said yes, managed to cob together adapters to hook new hoses to old outlets and turned on the water.
For the next 80 hours, while the rest of the world was glued to television and radio, the crew of the Harvey, worked non-stop to provide the water needed to put out the flames. Within a short time of starting, they were joined by two other FDNY boats, the John D McKean and Fire Fighter.
The Harvey had already been named to the National Register of Historic Places and after 9/11, was presented with a special “National Preservation Award” for its role in the 9/11 incident. John J Harvey has been seen in the past at the Tugboat Roundup, and other Waterford events (most recently at the 2017 Steamboat Meet in July). This is the first time the boat has been honored by the Roundup event.
The Harvey will be joining the Tugboat Parade from the Port of Albany area on Friday (September 7) afternoon and will be moored along the Waterford wall through Saturday afternoon. While at the Roundup, the Harvey will be open for walk-throughs. Sunday morning, the boat will be shifting to the Hudson River Maritime Museum for a special event there through Tuesday, September 11.
John J Harvey can usually be found at Pier 66 in Manhattan and is open for tours and frequent free rides on the Hudson River. More information on the boat can be found here.
More information on our Hudson River museum partner, Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston can be found here.
The Tugboat Roundup is an annual event the weekend after Labor Day.
Photo of Tugboat display courtesy Fireboat.org.