Friday, July 29, 2005

Navy Transfers Hoga- Ark. Democrat-Gazette

Navy transfers WWII tugboat to N. Little Rock
Museum gets 2 nd historic vessel

North Little Rock has landed a second historic naval vessel for its Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum on the Arkansas River. Navy Undersecretary Dionel "Dino" Aviles transferred ownership of the World War II tugboat Hoga to North Little Rock in a ceremony Thursday in the U.S. Capitol.

The Hoga was designated a National Historic Landmark for its role in fighting fires at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941, after Japan’s attack on the naval base that pushed the United States into World War II.

The Razorback submarine, on public display on the Arkansas River in North Little Rock’s downtown, is the first World War II vessel the city obtained for its maritime museum. The Razorback was present at the surrender of Japan in 1945.

"Now North Little Rock has joined Honolulu, Hawaii, as the only cities that have naval vessels from the beginning and ending of the second world war," said North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Hays, who attended the ceremony.

Hays has a pertinent date in mind for the Hoga to reach North Little Rock from Oakland, Calif., though arrangements still must be made. "We hope to have it here on or before Dec. 7," to commemorate the Pearl Harbor anniversary, Hays said. "I’ve even started making phone calls."

The 100-foot tug likely will need to be lifted onto a barge and towed from the West Coast through the Panama Canal and up the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers, Hays said. The estimated cost is $300,000 to $400,000, to be paid by museum donations and city money, he added. "We’ve got our fishhook out for grant money," Hays said. "The [fundraising] effort is going to continue, and [meeting the cost] will be a partnership between the city and the maritime museum."

Hays first heard about the Hoga in 1998, when Rep. Vic Snyder, D-Ark., told him the historic boat needed a city to adopt and preserve it. "The result is today’s transfer to North Little Rock and the preservation of this extremely important vessel for our Navy and our nation," Snyder said in a statement.

For 48 hours at Pearl Harbor, the Hoga rescued sailors, pushed disabled ships from harm’s way and battled ship fires along Battleship Row. In 1989, the Hoga achieved its historic landmark designation. Originally believed to be the only surviving yard craft from Pearl Harbor, a second tug, the Nokomis, was later discovered to exist.

From 1948-88, the Navy loaned the Hoga, renamed the City of Oakland, to fight fires in Oakland’s harbors. The boat was returned to the Navy in 1993 and placed on donation hold in July 1996 because of its historic status. The Navy awarded the Hoga to North Little Rock and its Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum in March 2004 over four other groups in Hawaii, California and Florida. A Hollywood, Fla., organization filed a lawsuit last year challenging the Navy’s decision, but a federal district judge dismissed the challenge in January.

This story was published Friday, July 29, 2005
Copyright © 2005, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved.


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