Since the 129-foot vessel, the John D. McKean, was commissioned into service in 1954, the sight of it on New York City’s waterfront has signaled some variety of peril — a smoldering warehouse, a capsized barge.
It was there to douse the flames when a fire in 1991 swallowed the Manhattan terminal of the Staten Island Ferry.
It shuttled hundreds of people to safety in Jersey City after the World Trade Center was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, and supplied firefighters with water at ground zero for days thereafter.
It gave refuge to passengers huddled on the water-lapped wings of US Airways Flight 1549 after it landed in the Hudson River in January 2009.
Now, after 72 years of service, the new owners, Michael Kaphan and Edward Taylor, who purchased the historic boat at auction for $57, 400, hope to turn it into a museum of sorts that pays homage to its legacy.
If all goes as planned, the boat will be open for tours led by former firefighters by July 4, 2016, at the dock outside the two men’s coming seafood restaurant in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.