Fireboat to make final voyage

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 March, 2006, 12:00am

The city's former flagship fireboat, the Alexander Grantham, is about to settle into a new home on the shore of Victoria Harbour, reborn as a museum.

Once the largest vessel in the Fire Services Department fleet - 38.9 metres long and 8.8 metres wide - it will be towed from the Hong Kong Shipyard in Tsing Yi to the seafront of Quarry Bay Park early on Friday.

Then the 500-tonne vessel, which was decommissioned in May 2002 after 49 years' service, will be lifted by crane on to a support frame on the shore.

Lifting duties will be performed by the 900-tonne floating crane Nan Tian Long, operated by state-owned Guangzhou Salvage.

The project, including restoration of the boat and construction at the new site, is estimated to cost about $350 million. It is being carried out by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Architectural Services Department.

An LCSD spokesman said an exhibition hall would also be built on the site. 'The fireboat has witnessed the city's history for the past half century. It was locally built by Hong Kong people and in a way it reflects the achievements of Hong Kong's ship-building industry in the early 1950s. Moving it to a permanent site on land is the best way to preserve the boat.'

The boat, named after the governor from 1947 to 1957, is expected to go on display next year. The admission fee has not been set and the department said it would base it on similar museums' charges.

The Alexander Grantham's most famous rescue was the 1972 blaze aboard the Seawise University, owned by C.Y. Tung, father of former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa. Formerly the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth, it was remodelled into a cruising university after C.Y. Tung bought it in 1970. But the ship was destroyed by the fire and sank.