Video: World’s Largest Self-Righting Fireboat Rolls Like Bathtub Toy

self-righting fireboat
Hong Kong's new self-righting fireboat is earning the nicknames "tumbler" and "roly-poly" because of its unique feature (YouTube)

Published Apr 26, 2024 11:00 PM by The Maritime Executive


Video leaked to social media in Taiwan of the tests of the world’s largest self-righting fireboat. Believed to be the largest of its kind yet built, the vessel rolls in the test before returning to an even keel in six to ten seconds according to documentation from its builders.

Taiwan’s Lungteh Shipbuilding, a private shipyard specializing in patrol boats, inceptors, and other high-speed and high-performance vessels, confirmed to media inquiries that the tests were authentic. The shipyard, however, declined to provide additional details on the ship or for whom it was being built.

The South China Morning Post ferreted out the details from a Hong Kong Government Logistics Department notice. The newspaper reports the vessel, a fireboat named simply Fireboat 12, was ordered in June 2020 by the Hong Kong Fire Service Department. Sources told the paper that Hong Kong wanted a new high-performance vessel and sought the self-righting feature normally found on smaller lifeboats so that the new fireboat would be able to handle the rough sea conditions of eastern Hong Kong.



The video played on Taiwanese TV and across the Internet, shows the fireboat which is approximately 131 feet (40 meters) in length released by a crane in a fully inverted position into the harbor. The boat moves from the heeled position to fully upright earning it nicknames in Taiwan of “tumbler” and “roly-poly” like a child’s bathtub toy.

The unfortunate nickname may stick with the vessel much as “Boaty McBoatface” with the UK’s multi-billion pound state-of-the-art scientific research vessel officially named Royal Research Ship (RRS) Sir David Attenborough. A 2016 public contest to name the vessel garnered over 124,000 votes (a third of the responses) favoring Boaty McBoatface. One of the vessel’s advanced underwater submarines was given the popular name.



The tests for “tumbler” took place at Suao Port in northeastern Taiwan on April 17. The contract price of the vessel is reported at approximately US$16 million with the newspaper reporting the builder asserts the fireboat which is 200 tons is the world’s largest self-righting vessel.

The report from the South China Morning Post says the vessel is still undergoing testing and then will require a period of training for its crew. It is expected to arrive in Hong Kong as early as June.

The Hong Kong Fire Services Department is working to enhance and strengthen its capabilities. Hong Kong has previously contracted with Lungteh for marine police, customs, and fireboats. It is expected that they will order additional new fire and command boats to further enhance the fire department’s marine capabilities.