Monday, August 15, 2005

More On the Hoga from the Oakland Tribune

Old city fireboat goes to museum
Vessel stationed in Oakland after heroic service at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7


Sixty-three years after surviving the attack on Pearl Harbor, the ol' Hoga is ready for one last chug.

The firefighting tugboat with a storied past that includes a heroic role in World War II and more than four decades of service to Oakland will cruise into a dignified retirement later this summer, as Navy officials have agreed to donate the historic vessel to the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum.

Navy Secretary Gordon England said the boat would "serve as a testament to the unrelenting courage and fierce determination exhibited by Hoga's crew during the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941."

The 100-foot, 325-ton harbor tug was built for the U.S. Navy in 1940 by Consolidated Shipbuilding of Morris Heights, N.Y., according to the National Park Service's Maritime Heritage Program. It was constructed entirely of welded steel, and its name, Hoga, is derived from the Sioux Indian word for fish.

Hoga sailed through the Panama Canal to California's naval bases and was soon assigned to Hawaii's Pearl Harbor. On the morning of the Japanese attack, 10 of its 11-man crew were aboard, and within minutes of the attack, the hearty tug went to work rescuing the besieged U.S. fleet.

The Hoga fought fires on the USS battleships Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee and Maryland, while rescuing sailors and moving other ships to safety under a hail of Japanese bombs. For their mettle, the tug and its brave crew received a commendation from Admiral Chester A. Nimitz in February1942. After the war, Oakland leased the Hoga from the Navy in 1948 to deploy its first municipal fireboat.

The tug's water-pumping capacity was increased from 4,000 gallons per minute to 10,000 gallons per minute, and its name was changed, first to Port of Oakland and again, later, to City of Oakland.

A day after its formal commmissioning in Oakland, the fireboat helped extinguish a blaze on the freighter Hawaiian Rancher, and it went on to 45-year career of service for the city and port.
Hoga was designated a national landmark in June 1989 and was returned to the U.S. Navy in 1993. When it was stricken from the Naval Register in 1996, it was the last remaining naval vessel afloat that had seen action at Pearl Harbor.

For years, the venerable tug gathered barnacles and rust with the rest of the Navy's Maritime Administration "mothball" fleet in Suisun Bay.

But under the new arrangement with the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum, Hoga's four massive diesel and electric engines will roar to life again.

The boat will transit through the Panama Canal, as it did more than 60 years before, then follow a course up the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers. The museum will moor the vessel alongside the historic submarine Razorback in North Little Rock, Ark.

Hoga is expected to be open to the public by the end of the year, the Navy said.


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