SFO gets new boats they hope to never use

After decades of launching planes into the air, San Francisco International Airport is turning its focus to launching boats in the water.

The airport added a new state-of-the-art boathouse to its emergency service facilities this week, and they hope they never have to use them.

The $5.2 million emergency response facility is located off North Access Road on the perimeter of the airport’s property and paid for by SFO airlines. The boathouse will house two jet skis, scuba gear, a Zodiac inflatable boat, a Boston Whaler, and a 44-foot Moose boat.

In the event of a flight or other emergency in The Bay, SFO can use this new facility as their command center.

SFO spokesman Mike McCarron told CBS SF that while a plane hasn’t gone into the water yet, in case it does, the airport will now be prepared. (UPDATE: SFBay reader Simon Allardice sends along the story of a Japan Air Lines DC-8 that landed 2-1/2 miles short of runway 28L in 1968.)

The building also houses medical equipment and supplies along with direct electronic links to other airports and emergency service facilities.

McCarron explained that SFO’s previous abilities to respond to an emergency in The Bay wasted precious time. He said:

“Right now if we want to put a boat in the water we basically have to launch the boat. It takes anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes to get the boat trailer, back it up, launch the boat and get the firefighters into the water.”

With the new boathouse, boats will already be in the water and can be launched in less than five minutes in the event of an emergency.