Naval Station Pearl Harbor and the National Park Service activated the first USS Arizona Memorial biodiesel ferry boat #39-1 John W. Finn during a ceremony at the USS Arizona Memorial and Visitor Center April 7.
The John W. Finn is the first of five new boats that will ultimately replace the existing 20-year old U.S. Navy-operated tour boats that transport 1.5 million visitors per year to and from the memorial.
"I think the time has come when people of the world are beginning to realize that this planet is very precious and that we should do everything possible to preserve it for the generation to come, and this boat will help with that," said U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye.
The boats were acquired through a Federal Transit Administration grant and State-of-Hawaii matching funds, which required procurement of boats that demonstrate clean fuel technology.
The environmentally friendly, state-of-the-art boats incorporate Tier 2 diesel engines and a blend of off-the-shelf clean fuel propulsion technologies consisting of biodiesel fuel, diesel oxidation and fuel borne catalysts to reduce emissions.
"I think it's really important for the military to start looking for ways to secure their own fuel source and this is one way of doing it," said Kelly King, vice president of Pacific Biodiesel, Inc.
The five boats are named in honor of five Medal of Honor recipients from the Pearl Harbor attack, with the first boat named John W. Finn. Finn was a chief aviation ordnanceman stationed at Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, and is the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient from the Pearl Harbor attack.
"These ships are radically different with 21st century equipment, making it a much smoother and quieter boat, more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly," said Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Michal Mousseau. "This ship is also better equipped for the community because it gives more senior citizens, who have to be in wheelchairs, the opportunity to come out to the memorial."
In addition to Inouye, other speakers in attendance included Capt. Richard Kitchens, commanding officer of Naval Station Pearl Harbor; Paul DePrey, superintendent of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument; and Frank McCarthey, program manager of the Support Ships, Small Boats and Craft Program Executive Office.
The ceremony concluded with a Hawaiian blessing conducted by Kahu Kauila Clark, followed by the untying of Hawaiian maile lei and a short ceremonial ride around the harbor aboard John W. Finn.