The Red Bank Volunteer Fire Department is about to complete an overhaul of a multi-purpose boat they recently obtained free of charge. But he needs a helping hand from the public.

The new Marine 1 gets a makeover at Union Hose. Below, the boat it will replace in its berth at the marine park. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

Like the 21-foot vessel it replaces, the 1991 aluminum SeaArk was obtained free as surplus through the New Jersey Forest Service, Chief Nick Ferraro said last week.

Formerly owned by the Leesburg Fire Department in Cumberland County, it had apparently been sitting in a field for years, providing a home for raccoons. But he’s in great shape, Ferraro said.

Dubbed Marine 1, the boat will be used to rescue boaters and fight boat and marina fires in Red Bank and other towns along the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers and beyond as part of the task force Monmouth County Marine (in which it will be known as Marine 64).

Two boat fires in recent months – one at the Molly Pitcher Hotel Marina, the other at Irwin Marine – have hinted at the vessel’s usefulness. This latest blaze, in January, forced firefighters to work against a burning yacht from an ice-encrusted dock, in strong onshore winds.

Fighting the same fire, the new ship “would have done all the work,” Ferraro said.

Like the used rescue truck the department purchased and refurbished last year, the boat’s cabin provides an enclosed space for divers to put on and take off their gear in cold weather. It also has a diving platform, another advantage over the current vessel.

Working at the Union Hose fire station on Shrewsbury Avenue, volunteers scraped and repainted the hull, and last week were preparing to install electric controls and a water cannon.

But the vessel still needs an inboard-outboard engine, and the department is “about to miss our window” to put it on the water for the next sailing season, Ferraro said. If the order is not placed quickly, the seller may not be able to access it once the peak season begins, he said.

While the department hopes for support from the borough budget, the fire department is also soliciting donations for the project. View the GoFundMe page here.

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