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The “Fireboat Alexander Grantham Exhibition Gallery” on its official opening day, in Quarry Bay Park in September 2007. The vessel had served for nearly 50 years as the flagship of the Hong Kong Fire Services Department’s fireboat team, responding to alarms and conducting rescue operations both in Hong Kong waters and along the shoreline. The recently retired Flores jetfoil could be an equally attractive waterfront installation. Photo: Martin Chan

Letters | Showcase Hong Kong’s maritime heritage with historic Macau jetfoil

With a bit of imagination and drive, the highly popular Alexander Grantham fireboat attraction at Quarry Bay could be joined by a sister vessel of equal importance. Many Hongkongers are mourning the imminent loss of the Boeing jet-propelled Macau hydrofoils that the late Dr Stanley Ho first brought to the city. Introduced in 1974 when the price of fuel was considerably less, the well-known “Flores” – the first jetfoil – has recently been retired and could potentially become an important on-land tourist asset.
Too much of the city’s maritime heritage has simply disappeared. An opportunity now exists to celebrate when Hong Kong adopted then-cutting edge technology to link with Macau and Zhuhai, with an exhilarating ride for all the family for more than four decades.

Made from aluminium and using jet propulsion to achieve a cruising speed of 45 knots, the technology embraced by the shipbuilders still has lessons for a new generation of budding engineers.

With some can-do spirit and an appropriate public-private partnership, the Flores could have a permanent home, whether it be at Quarry Bay in an expanding maritime education precinct or closer to Sheung Wan, for the pleasure and education of future generations.

Richard Wesley, museum director, Hong Kong Maritime Museum