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Man arrested after stealing decommissioned FDNY fireboat

Retired in 1994, the John J. Harvey was used to evacuate survivors during the Sept. 11 terror attacks

Stolen Boats Arrest

FILE - The fireboat John J. Harvey passes the Statue of Liberty, Oct. 28, 2011, in New York Harbor. A man was arrested Thursday, April 11, 2024, for allegedly taking the decommissioned New York City fire boat for an overnight cruise on the Hudson River, before becoming stuck and jumping ship. He then boarded a second stolen vessel, police said, which he sailed roughly one nautical mile (1.8 kilometers) south until he was taken into custody on its deck. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File

By Jake Offenhartz
Associated Press

NEW YORK — A man was arrested Thursday for allegedly taking a decommissioned New York City fireboat for an overnight cruise on the Hudson River, before becoming stuck, jumping ship and stealing another vessel, police said.

He was charged with two counts of grand larceny, officials said. He had not been arraigned as of Thursday afternoon and it was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer.

The man commandeered the fireboat, known as the John J. Harvey, by untying it from its mooring at Pier 66 off the west side of Manhattan, according to authorities. The 130-foot (40 meter) long vessel, which now serves as a museum, earned local acclaim after it was used to evacuate survivors of 9/11.

Once aboard the fireboat, the man was able to drift a short distance into the Hudson River, police said, but quickly got stuck. He leapt overboard, plunging into the frigid waters and later emerging on a second stolen vessel, according to police.

He navigated that sailboat toward Pier 51, roughly 15 blocks south of the original location, police said. The department’s Harbor Unit responded to a 2:30 a.m. call about a stolen boat and arrested the man on the sailboat’s deck.

A spokesperson for the Hudson River Park Trust, which oversees Pier 66, said the fireboat is secure and being assessed for damage.

Built in 1931, the Harvey assisted in several dramatic marine rescues, helping to put out a potentially catastrophic fire aboard the El Estero, a munitions ship docked in the New York Harbor during World War II.

It was retired in 1994, but was called back into service on the morning of 9/11 to help pick up survivors and to pump water onto the site.

The boat’s caretakers offer occasional free public cruises along the Hudson River.