USS Arizona Ferry Boat #39-2, Samuel G. Fuqua, welcomed visitors on its maiden run Aug. 18 as the newest biodiesel boat to operate at Naval Station Pearl Harbor.
It's the second of five new state-of-the-art biodiesel boats to debut in Pearl Harbor. The first, #39-1 John W. Finn, arrived in April to become the first Navy vessel in Hawaii to incorporate off-the-shelf clean fuel technology components. The new boats will eventually replace the existing 20-year-old U.S. Navy-operated tour boats that shuttle visitors to and from the USS Arizona Memorial as part of the National Park Service's (NPS) World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument tours.
The design of the environmentally friendly boats will reduce the carbon footprint of the ferry service, contributing to the Navy's efforts toward affordable and clean naval power. The clean fuel technology components include twin diesel engines that fully comply with EPA emissions standards, and a complex fuel system optimized for biodiesel fuel and designed to further reduce emissions. The diesel oxidation system is engineered to chemically convert hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide into water and carbon dioxide. The new boats use locally produced, 100 percent renewable biodiesel.
While most U.S. Navy boats have hull registration numbers only and no names, the five new Arizona ferry boats are unique because they are named after five Medal of Honor recipients of the Pearl Harbor attack. The boats are numbered 39-1 through 39-5 to reflect Battleship Arizona's hull designation, BB-39. The remaining boats, #39-3 Cassin Young and #39-4 Donald K. Ross, will arrive in the next several months, with the fifth and final boat, #39-5 Jackson C. Pharris, to be delivered in the summer of 2010.
Ferry boat #39-2 is named in honor of Samuel Glenn Fuqua, whose heroic actions aboard USS Arizona epitomizes true sacrifice and courage that earned him America's highest military decoration. On Dec. 7, 1941, Lt. Cmdr. Fuqua was on board USS Arizona as the ship's damage control officer and first lieutenant. Though knocked unconscious by a bomb that hit the ship's stern early in the attack, he continued to direct the fighting of fire and rescue of wounded and injured personnel. After realizing that the ship could not be saved and that he was the senior surviving officer aboard, he directed that the ship be abandoned, but continued to remain on the quarterdeck to save the ship's remaining crewmen.
Each day, Sailors transport as many as 4,500 people by boat to the USS Arizona Memorial so visitors may pay respects to fallen heroes and remember the courage of survivors like Fuqua, who retired as rear admiral and died in 1987.
"It's a great honor to pilot a boat that has a Medal of Honor winner named on it," said Chief Warrant Officer Timothy Gordon, Naval Station Pearl Harbor waterfront operations officer and officer in charge of the Arizona detachment. The average age of the Sailors is 20, noted Gordon. "No where else will you see young people doing a job like this," he said. "We try to be the best there is and want everyone to walk away from our tours seeing the best that the Navy has to offer."
Sailors and passengers alike will have an enhanced passenger experience. Boat #39-2 Samuel G. Fuqua is equipped with a wireless microphone and CD player. The new boats are larger—78 feet long, compared to the older boats that are 70 feet—and can achieve a top speed of 12.7 knots. The boats are also significantly quieter as on board noise levels have been reduced by 50 percent. The new ferry boats also ensure accessibility to passengers with disabilities to the maximum extent practicable, with features such as increased aisle width, size and arrangement of wheelchair spaces, deck running and cross slope and handrail provisions.