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March 30, 2013

City gets new fire boat for free

NEWBURYPORT — The city of Newburyport has obtained a 25-foot response boat for use of the harbormaster and members of the fire and police departments. And it was free.

The vessel is surplus being discarded by the U.S. Coast Guard after 10 years of use, city officials say.

Harbormaster Paul Hogg went to Buffalo to pick up the aluminum craft, and he said he plans to use it this season.

Officials estimated its value at about $165,000. It is seaworthy but lacks outboard engines.

Hogg said that he is seeking bids on two 225-horsepower outboard motors.

“This is a good deal for the city,” said Hogg. “It gives us another vessel to help us do our work, and it was a great deal because it was free.

“We applied through a grant program and did a lot of paperwork. Other communities also wanted it and I feel fortunate that we were able to get it.”

The harbormaster’s office currently has a 22-foot patrol boat and one “pump-out” craft that assists boaters in getting rid of wastewater.

The recently acquired vessel is equipped to fight fires and to host scuba divers for rescues.

“This boat fulfills a need, which is to give the city a boat capable of putting out fires,” said Deputy Fire Chief Steve Bradbury.

Acting Fire Chief William Shute said, “With the number of boats increasing on the river each year, the harbormaster’s office can use another boat that can be used for firefighting or patrol.”

Hogg said the boat spent most of its service on the Great Lakes, and was hauled in every winter for maintenance

He said, “There are more boats registering and acquiring permits than ever, and having this added response vessel enhances our ability to keep our waters safe and protected.”

Mayor Donna Holaday lauded the acquisition of a free craft, saying, “This is a wonderful asset for the city as the boating community continues to grow.”

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