The New Bedford Fire Department is at the ready on the harbor with a new fire boat.

The $950,000 vessel and all necessary training was funded mostly by a Federal Port Securities grant, with the City kicking in just $238,000.

The new boat was built in California. Fire Chief Michael Gomes says when he took the boat for a test drive in the San Francisco Bay, he had an appropriate experience. "We came into a pod of whales that were jumping around us as we were making our way through the opening under the Golden Gate Bridge. So, maybe it's appropriate that whales met the Whaling City's vessel." "Did you bring your harpoon?" quipped Mayor Jon Mitchell. "We didn't bring our harpoon. That's not allowed any longer," replied Chief Gomes.

The boat has been christened the "Lt. Jesse Pacheco, Jr." after the City Fire Lieutenant of the same name who died in the line of duty in 1993. Pacheco's widow, Cindy, says it's fitting that the boat bears his name. "He had such a love for the ocean all his life. From child(hood) to the Coast Guard, serving in Japan at West Chop and in Search and Rescue for 3 1/2 years for the United States Coast Guard," said a proud Pacheco. "If there was a boat when Jess was on the Fire Department, he would've been the first one on it."

The boat far out-performs the City's 1972 fire boat. The new vessel features a catamaran hull, a hydro-jet propulsion system, and the ability to pump 1,500 gallons of water per second.