USS Hoga (YT-146)

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USS Hoga (YT-146)
80-G-312058.jpg
USS Hoga in Pearl Harbor, 1942
Career (USA)
Awarded: 1 June 1940
Builder: Consolidated Shipbuilding Corporation
Laid down: 25 July 1940
Launched: 31 December 1940
Acquired: 1 May 1941
In service: 22 May 1941
Out of service: July 1996
Renamed: Port of Oakland (1948)
City of Oakland
Reclassified: YTB 15 May 1944
YTM 1962
Struck: 12 July 1996
Status: Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet
General characteristics
Class & type: Woban-class district harbor tug
Displacement: 325 tons
Length: 100 ft (30 m)
Beam: 25 ft (7.6 m)
Draft: 9 ft 7 in (2.92 m)
USS Hoga (City of Oakland) (Tug)
USS Hoga (YT-146) is located in California
USS Hoga (YT-146)
Location Oakland, California
Coordinates 37°47′42.6″N 122°16′43.6″W / 37.795167°N 122.278778°W / 37.795167; -122.278778Coordinates: 37°47′42.6″N 122°16′43.6″W / 37.795167°N 122.278778°W / 37.795167; -122.278778
Built 1941
Architect Consolidated Shipbuilding Corp.
Governing body Department of the Navy
NRHP Reference # 89001429
Significant dates
Added to NRHP 30 June 1989[1]
Designated NHL 30 June 1989[2]

USS Hoga (YT-146/YTB-146/YTM-146) was a United States Navy Woban-class district harbor tug named after the Sioux Indian word for "fish." After World War II, the tug was known as the Port of Oakland and then the City of Oakland when she was a fireboat in that city.

Authorized on 18 June 1940, she was built by the Consolidated Shipbuilding Corporation in Morris Heights, New York. Her keel was laid on 25 July 1940. Launched on 31 December 1940, she was christened Hoga (YT-146). Commissioned at Norfolk, Virginia on 22 May 1941 Hoga was assigned to the 14th Naval District at Pearl Harbor. She made the trip there by way of the Panama Canal, San Diego, and San Pedro.[3] At Pearl Harbor, she was berthed at the Yard Craft Dock and worked moving cargo lighters and assisting ships in and out of berths. Like other YTs, she carried firefighting equipment.

At Pearl Harbor[edit]

Hoga was moored with other yard service craft near the drydocks at 1010 Dock when Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japanese forces on the morning of 7 December 1941. Ten of Hoga '​s eleven-man crew were aboard; the cook was ashore. As the planes swooped in over the harbor, Assistant Tugmaster Robert Brown, sleeping in the pilothouse, was awakened by the dropping bombs. "I raised up and looked out and all hell was breaking loose. I saw planes all over the place. Japanese planes and several ships on fire."[4] Joseph B. McManus, the Tugmaster, was shaving in his cabin. "I heard the noise and I looked out the porthole...and the first sight I saw was the Oklahoma which had quite a list. She had been hit ... The Chief Engineer was standing on the dock and I heard him say, 'My God! This is war!'"[citation needed]

Hoga was underway within ten minutes of the first strike; "The only orders we got during the whole raid was to get underway and assist wherever we could...."[4] Steaming out into the harbor, she picked up two men in the water, landed them on the deck, and proceeded to the burning ships along Battleship Row. At the end, lay the shattered hulk of USS Arizona (BB-39). Moored to Arizona was the badly damaged repair ship USS Vestal (AR-4). Throwing lines to the stricken repair ship, Hoga helped pull Vestal away from Arizona at 8:30. Pulling in the tow lines that had been chopped free by Vestal '​s panicked crew, Hoga ran to the assistance of the minelayer USS Oglala (CM-4), flagship of Rear Admiral William Rea Furlong, commanding Minecraft, Battle Force. As she reached Oglala at 8:50, Hoga was passed by the battleship USS Nevada (BB-36), then making a run for the open sea.

As the first wave of planes struck at 7:50, Nevada, moored near Arizona, had partial steam up. At 8:03, the ship took a torpedo hit near frame 40 and began to list. Counterflooding kept Nevada from capsizing as her anti-aircraft batteries opened up on the attacking planes. The commanding officer, Captain F. W. Scanland, was not aboard; the senior officer was Lieutenant Commander J.F. Thomas, USNR. Thomas, aided by another junior officer, conned the ship away as burning oil from the destroyed Arizona began to threaten Nevada. Just as the second wave of planes struck, the damaged Nevada got underway at 8:45, her officers hoping to escape the trap and run for the open sea through the narrow harbor entrance. The Japanese "recognized a golden double opportunity to sink a battleship and at the same time bottle up Pearl Harbor."[5] The planes concentrated their attack on Nevada, which continued running, bombs crashing around her and on her forward deck and superstructure. At 9:07, a second "hail of bombs" rained on the ship, one striking the forecastle. By 9:10, Nevada was sinking, and she was grounded on Hospital Point to avoid going down in the channel.

Meanwhile Hoga, with another vessel, was assisting Oglala. Damaged by the detonation of a torpedo against the cruiser USS Helena (CL-50), moored next to Oglala, the listing minesweeper required towing to clear the field of fire for Helena. As the sinking Oglala was moved aft of Helena by Hoga, "Admiral Furlong saw the Nevada 'give quite a heave,' and reflected to himself 'Well...there she is in the channel and there is going to be trouble if that ship sinks in the channel.' So he sent the two tugs that had been assisting Oglala to help nose the Nevada over toward Hospital Point."[6]

Hoga pushes the sinking USS Nevada to safety in soft sand

Hoga then worked with the other tug, YT-130, to pull the battleship free and move her to the western side of the harbor entrance, where by 10:45 she settled as Hoga poured water onto the burning deck and into the virtually destroyed forward section.[7] Tied to the port bow, Hoga worked on a raging forecastle fire with the pilothouse monitor and four hose lines for over an hour before retiring.

From Nevada, Hoga returned to Battleship Row, fighting fires on USS Maryland (BB-46), USS Tennessee (BB-43), and finally Arizona. Hoga worked the Arizona fire from 16:00 hours on Sunday until 13:00 hours on Tuesday, 9 December. "We didn't recover any bodies", said Assistant Tugmaster Brown, "We were not in a position to do that. We had more important work to do.... There were dead bodies on there. We could see [them] up on the mainmast."[4] Following 72 continuous hours of firefighting, Hoga remained on active duty through the rest of the week, patrolling the harbor, assisting in body removal, and searching for Japanese submarines believed to be hiding in the harbor.[8] The actions of the tug's skipper and crew did not go unrecognized. On February 1942,[clarification needed] Admiral Chester Nimitz, CINCPAC, commended McManus, his men, and their tug for a job well done:

For distinguished service in line of your profession as Commanding Officer of the Navy Yard Tug Hoga, and efficient action and disregard of your own personal safety during the attack ... When another ship was disabled and appeared to be out of control, with serious fires on the fore part of that ship, you moored your tug to her bow and assisted materially in extinguishing the fires. When it was determined that the damaged ship should be beached, as there was serious danger of her sinking in the channel, you assisted in the beaching operations in an outstanding manner. Furthermore, each member of the crew of the Hoga functioned in a most efficient manner and exhibited commendable disregard of personal danger throughout the operations.[9]

Following the Japanese attack, Hoga, along with other yard tugs and support craft, was pressed into additional duty cleaning debris from the harbor and the salvage efforts that began immediately on the sunken and battle-damaged vessels. This effort continued through the war years; Hoga was an active participant in this as well as in the continuing function of Pearl Harbor as an active Navy Base with increased responsibilities and duties as the springboard for the eventual reconquest of occupied Pacific islands and territories and victory over Japan. During the war Hoga was redesignated as a YTB (Yard Tug, Large) on 15 May 1944.[3] Salvage work and heavy duty continued after the war, but in 1948, Hoga was transferred on loan to the Port of Oakland for use as a fireboat through the efforts of Congressman George P. Miller.

Fireboat Service in Oakland[edit]

Hoga, laid up in the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet

Oakland, one of California's most active ports, surpassing her one-time rival San Francisco after the latter's nearly century-long reign as principal American port on the Pacific, was without municipal fireboat protection until Hoga '​s arrival. Heavy shipping of war material from the Oakland Army Base, an active part of the San Francisco Port of Embarkation, the presence of oil tankers calling at East Bay refineries, and the United States Naval Air Station at nearby Alameda contributed to the wartime significance of the port of Oakland. In April 1948, it was announced[by whom?] that Oakland would receive Hoga by loan from the Navy.

The arrangement between the Port of Oakland and the City Council by which the vessel was operated included Port-financed alterations to increase the pumping capacity from 4,000 to 10,000 US gal/min (0.25 to 0.63 m3/s), a berth, new firehouse, and partial defrayment of the salaries of the crew. The City would operate and pay part of the fireboat crew's salaries. According to Mayor Joseph E. Smith, "by this arrangement Oakland will receive excellent fire protection along its valuable waterfront properties, and the cost of the service will be distributed between the City and the Port."[10] Arriving in May, Hoga was brought by a Navy crew from Treasure Island to the Grove Street Pier in Oakland, where transfer papers were signed on 28 May 1948.

Reconditioned at a cost of $73,000 in 1948 by Pacific Coast Engineering Company at Pacific Drydock and Repair in Oakland, the fireboat, now christened Port of Oakland (later changed to City of Oakland) entered service in July 1948:

The fireboat is berthed at the foot of Broadway in Oakland, immediately adjacent to a firehouse from which she can draw her crew of seven hosemen and a Battalion Chief, and have them aboard within a very few minutes. A regularly licensed pilot and marine engineer continually man the fireboat. Under this arrangement the Port of Oakland can be fully manned and on her way at 14 knots (26 km/h) speed almost immediately.[11]

The day after formal commissioning, Port of Oakland was called into service to help combat a shipboard fire on the freighter Hawaiian Rancher.

In her 40 year career as an Oakland fireboat, the vessel has combated numerous shipboard fires, waterfront blazes, rescued persons in the water, and served as a tour boat for President Jimmy Carter during a 35-minute tour of the port on 3 July 1980. One highlight of the President's visit was his playfully aiming of City of Oakland '​s bow monitor at the press boat.[12] The fireboat was moved to a new berth at Jack London Square on 7 December 1982. The most recent adventure was responding to the burning tanker SS Puerto Rican in the rough seas outside the Golden Gate Bridge in 1984. The decline of large wooden warehouses and piers, better shipboard fire control, and the crowding of the harbor with smaller pleasure craft has limited the use of the fireboat, and the Port of Oakland, like other major ports, considered a smaller, more maneuverable vessel to meet the needs of the 21st century waterfront.

The ship was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989.,[2][13]

The City of Oakland returned Hoga to the Navy in 1994 at Treasure Island, where she was subsequently moved to the Maritime Administration's Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet. After several years of being available for donation, the Navy selected the City of North Little Rock, Arkansas among four other competing applications. A donation transfer contract was signed on 29 July 2005, whereupon ownership of Hoga transferred to the City of North Little Rock. As of June 2012, Hoga was at Suisun Bay[14] The Hoga arrived at Mare Island on 31 July 2012 to start work to make the ship seaworthy for its journey to Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  2. ^ a b "USS Hoga (tug)". National Historic Landmarks Program. National Park Service. 27 September 2007. 
  3. ^ a b Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Volume III (Washington, D.C.: United States Navy, 1968) p. 342.
  4. ^ a b c Interview with Robert Brown, Garden Grove, California, by Paul C. Ditzel, 20 November 1988
  5. ^ Prange, Goldstein & Dillon 1981, pp. 515, 535–536
  6. ^ Prange, Goldstein & Dillon 1981, pp. 237–238, 264
  7. ^ Prange, Goldstein & Dillon 1981, pp. 535–536
  8. ^ Logbook entries for Hoga (YT-146), 7–10 December 1941. Typescript courtesy of Joseph B. McManus, El Cajon, California. Hoga '​s original engineering log was kept aboard the vessel when she was transferred to Oakland. The log was stolen from the ship several years ago. Mr. McManus kept a copy of his typed submission of the tug's log as part of his after action report to CINCPAC.
  9. ^ Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Aboard USS Nevada, to Chief Boatswain's Mate Joseph B. McManus, USN, "Commendation", 2 February 1941. Manuscript, courtesy of Joseph B. McManus, El Cajon, California.
  10. ^ Untitled press release, 20 May 1948, manuscript, Port of Oakland, California.
  11. ^ "New Fireboat 'Port of Oakland'", (July 1948) Manuscript, Port of Oakland, California.
  12. ^ Ed Powell, "Guardian of the East Bay", Pacific Work Boat (December 1952); Port Progress: Port of Oakland News/Events (July 1980) pp. 3-7. Also see Port of Oakland, 60 Years: A Chronicle of Progress (Oakland: Oakland Board of Port Commissioners, 1987) pp. 13, 28; Oakland Tribune, 3 July 1980, and San Francisco Examiner, 8 December 1982.
  13. ^ Delgado, James P. (5 January 1989). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: City of Oakland, ex-Hoga (YTB-146)" (pdf). National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-10-11. 
    "Accompanying 11 photos, exterior and interior, from 1941, 1980, and 1988" (pdf). National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-10-11. 
  14. ^ "National Defense Reserve Fleet Inventory For the month ending June 30, 2012" (pdf). United States Maritime Administration. 6 July 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-11. 
  15. ^ York, Jessica (1 August 2012). "Historic USS Hoga tug at Vallejo's Mare Island drydocks for repairs". Times Herald. Retrieved 24 September 2013. 
  • Prange, Gordon W.; Goldstein, Donald M.; Dillon, Katherine V. (1981). At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company. 
  • This article includes information collected from the Naval Vessel Register, which, as a U.S. government publication, is in the public domain. The entry can be found here.
  • Photo gallery of USS Hoga at NavSource Naval History

External links[edit]