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Pearl Harbor Survivor: Tugboat ex-USS Hoga (YT 146)

Starboard side view of USS HOGA during Builder’s Trials on the Hudson River, 12 May 1941. National Archives Photograph 100855F courtesy of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum.

As we approach the 71st anniversary of the tragic Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the thoughts of many around the nation will turn towards Hawaii, and the wreck of the battleship USS Arizona. But another Navy vessel from that colossal battle is being prepared for display in the deep South. The tugboat ex-USS Hoga (YT 146) is currently on blocks in drydock in California, undergoing repairs and maintenance. When completed, Hoga will be towed to the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum (AIMM) in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The tugboat will take her place alongside another historic World War II boat, the submarine USS Razorback (SS 394).

USS Hoga is a Woban class district harbor tug. Her name is translated from the Sioux word for fish. Built in New York, she was commissioned in May 1941 in Norfolk, VA, and soon made her way to Pearl Harbor. When the Japanese attack commenced on the morning of December 7, Hoga was underway quickly working to save lives and ships in the chaos of the harbor. She picked up sailors floating in the water, and provided assistance to the damaged ships USS Vestal and USS Oglala. As the fight raged, the battleship USS Nevada got underway, making for sea and firing back at the enemy aircraft. With her captain ashore, Lieutenant Commander Francis J. Thomas took command of the battleship. Nevada was heavily damaged, and with the ship in danger of sinking,Thomas ran her aground at Hospital Point to avoid blocking the channel. Hoga was dispatched to aid the battleship. With the assistance of another tug, the massive Nevada was refloated and moved to a more secure position where she would not sink in the channel. Hoga was fitted with firefighting gear, which enabled her to battle the fires on Nevada. For the next 2 days, she continued to fight fires along Battleship Row, and following that assisted with the ongoing cleanup of the battle-scarred Navy base. For a firsthand look at the battle, take a look at our earlier story which featured a 10 minute black and white video of original footage.

USS Hoga Pearl Harbor 80-G-19940

USS HOGA (at right) alongside the battleship USS NEVADA on 7 December 1941. HOGA is shown fighting fires burning on board the grounded battleship. National Archives photo 80-G-19940.


The tug Hoga served the remainder of the war at Pearl Harbor, and in 1948 was loaned to the Port of Oakland as a fireboat. She was renamed Port of Oakland, and later City of Oakland, and served for decades on the waterfront, fighting fires. In 1989 National Landmark Status was awarded to the boat for her role in the Pearl Harbor attack. She was returned to the Navy in 1994, struck from the Naval Register, and placed in reserve in the National Defense Reserve Fleet at Suisun Bay. She was made available for donation as a museum, and in 2005, Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum was selected.

This past July, Hoga was moved out of Suisun Bay, and towed to the Allied Defense Recycling (ADR) facility in Vallejo, CA. ADR occupies part of the old Mare Island Naval Shipyard. After pier-side inspections, Hoga was moved into the drydock. Currently, additional inspections are ongoing to determine exactly how much of the lower hull will need to repaired (and just as importantly, to determine what doesn’t need repair).  While final reports are not yet available, initial indications are that much less of the lower hull will need repair than was originally estimated. At this time, AIMM does not have a firm schedule for when work will be completed on Hoga, or when she will depart California. However, as soon as a schedule is known, it will be made available. In the meantime, the AIMM website has a great collection of photographs and even blueprints that are available to browse. And be sure to follow along at their blog for the latest news:

Once Hoga is permanently moored in Arkansas, the focus will be on restoring here to the appearance and configuration she had on the day of the Japanese attack, keeping her “ship shape and Bristol fashion”, and, of course, telling her story to the museum’s many visitors.

Hoga drydock

Ex-USS HOGA in drydock at Allied Defense Recycling facility in Vallejo, CA. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum.

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  1. Bill Griggs

    The person who took over as officer of the deck on the USS NEVADA was a Quartermaster, ( 1st class or possibly Chief) as the Nevada’s Captain was ashore that morning.

  2. When the HOGA finally arrives in Arkansas, I’ll come down to see her. I’ve been wondering all these years what her final outcome will be. Good for the great folks at Arkansas Maritime Museum! They’re to be commended for their attention to history. I hope they’ll keep me in mind when the HOGA starts her journey to Arkansas.

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  4. Gordon D. Wollesen

    I’m very glad the USS Hoga will be saved and be moored at North Little Rock, Arkansas. I really wished that the old girl would return to Pearl Harbor where
    she should be displayed. If I understand correctly, the USS Hoga is the ONLY
    surviving ship that was at Pearl on 7 December 1941. All the rest of the ships
    are gone (sunk or scrapped). Pearl Harbor is the only place for the USS Hoga
    to reside. I know it won’t happen. I tested for the OFD, passed the exams, but
    didn’t take a position with the OFD. If I did take a position with the OFD, I wanted to be assigned to the Fire Boat. Instead, I went to work for the largest Fire
    Department in California (CDF).
    I miss the old USS Hoga. A real Firefighter!

    I knew some of the Oakland Fire Department Fire Boat crew. I even got to take
    a run or two into San Francisco Bay for a short work-out. The work-outs were
    all turrets being used. Quite a show with all that water being thrown into the air.

    • Pat Watson

      Couldn’t agree more. It’s great that Hoga is being saved, but she belongs in Pearl Harbor.

    • James Fletcher

      Actually there is another boat that survived Pearl Harbor. The USCGC Roger B Taney. She is currently moored in Baltimore harbor.

  5. David Patterson

    I served aboard another World War II Woban Class tugboat–USS Toka (YTM-149) just three hull numbers from Hoga (146). It was a diesel-electric boat. Served two years on this tug from 1969-1971. I will visit Hoga when it comes to Arkansas.

  6. Lewis Willard O'Rear Jr

    I was the pilot of the USS Hoga while stationed in Pearl Harbor with the Navy. Lots of good memories.

    • Robert Hollowell

      Mr. O’rear. I have some great pictures to share with you if you are interested. You could reach me at 985-665-0715.

    • Mr. O’Rear,

      The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum is very interested in your stories. The museum staff is currently compiling information, artifacts, photographs of those associated to USS Hoga and City of Oakland tugboat. You are welcome to contact the museum staff.

  7. Otis Randle

    the Hoga is currently on route to NLR at this time 10-09-2015 she is somewhere between San Diego and the Panama Canal. she is expected to arrive in NLR about Dec -7-2015

  8. Robert Hollowell

    Today is November 11, 2015 and I work on a towboat based out of Houston, TX. At 1400 this afternoon, I departed Houston pushing the YT-146 enroute to New Orleans. She is on the way.

    • thomas mccool

      Who is your brother I was on the boat that dropped it in little Rock

  9. William Keel

    Would like to know all about the engine room and equipment.
    Name and Model numbers of the Main and Aux engines. Interior photos would be nice. I hope to someday visit the Tug HOGA at Little Rock, AR

    I was once chief engineer of Navy Tug YTM-762 1969/70.

  10. Steve McCallister

    My dad, William Edward McCallister was assigned to the USS Hoga YT146 in Hawaii in approximately June of 1941. He was on the USS Hoga when it was attacked on December 7th. He never talked about it much until the movie Pearl Harbor came out in 2001. We had to beg him to tell us what he saw. He said they pushed the USS Nevada over to the side so it wouldn’t sink in the channel. They fought fires on Arizona and others for over 72 hours. They beat on the thick glass port holes with axes for hours and hours but could not break through the glass. He spent 22 years active and 8 years reserve in the Navy.

    • Janet Barnhart Lords

      I am trying to get a list of men that was on the Hoga on Dec 7th 1941. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  11. thomas mccool

    I was apart of getting her to the museum we pushed her from north ms to little rock arkansas and I’m greatly honored to have had that opertunity and to her crew members I wish I coulda seen her in action I thank you all for your services

  12. Brian Scharsch

    My Father served in Pearl 1942 on a Tug . He wouldn’t speak of it much until his late 60s.
    I always wish I could have remembered the name of the Tug he served on
    Or if he ever mentioned it.
    All I have is a picture someone took of him and his crew mates on board
    The tug.
    I would appreciate any info anyone can give me on how to find out
    The name of the ship . Please E mail me . Thank you .

  13. Brian Scharsch

    My Fathers name is George Scharsch . Us Navy 1942-44

  14. Bill Ridgeway, EMC(SW), USN (RET)

    The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum is having some surveys done by appropriate authorities before any restoration work can be done on the HOGA. There is some decking that will need to be replaced in the forward machinery room where the winches are. The engine room, of course, with the open faced electrical distribution switchboard, will have to have plexiglass installed in front of it to keep people from touching it. Some ventilation will need to be removed, or rerouted to original configuration. This is a tough ole tugboat, and we are very, very proud to have it in North Little Rock. We WILL take very good care of her. Come see her and the USS RAZORBACK (SS-394), which was in Tokyo Bay when Japan surrendered aboard the MISSOURI. The RAZORBACK has the distinction of 55 years of active duty between the US and Turkish Navies, the longest serving submarine in the world.

  15. Mr. Fletcher,
    The USS Taney was moored in Honolulu on 12/7/41, not at Pearl. Technically, she wasn’t one of the ‘Pearl Harbor Ships’, but a great ship nonetheless.
    Jim Mc Guire


    I saw the Hoga when it arrived at Mare Island and was placed in the chocks down at the South end of the Yard near the Sandblast Facility. I looked at the hull and it looked to me like it was Swiss Cheese. The whole bottom needed replacement. So, to see it afloat again is a Testament to the work that is still going on at Mare Island.

  17. G marchbanks

    I was on a togboat at Pearl Harbor in1956 can not rember the name


    Anyone know a person that served on the City of Oakland (Hoga)? Someone visited Hoga in North Little Rock that was a Master aboard the fireboat. Cannot find contact info. Any other crew members out there.

    John C. Barr

    Little Rock, AR

  19. Guy Bell

    I worked on Tugs in Norfolk during Viet Nam, does any one know where I can get a set of lines Plans for the Woban class tugs [email protected]

  20. …Am going down to NLR in June to see the USS Hoga. Can’t wait!
    Let’s hear it for skipper Joe McManus BMC USN !!

    Jim Mc Guire
    GM3 USN

  21. My Dad William E McCallister was the engine man on the YT 146 Hoga during the December 7th Pearl Harbor attack.
    He told me that The Hoga’s Captain of the Tug was McMaster? He said was a very smart man and took an immediate proactive response and stated pushing the sinking battleships out of the channel while Pearl Harbor
    was in total chaos. Mc Master, if I go the name right, was the real American Hero. My Dad felt that McMaster was the real reason the channel didn’t get blocked.
    My Dad told me that the reason the battleships went down so fast was that all the holds were open for inspection and because the Officers were late back to the ships because of an on shore Christmas? party the night before.

    • Janet Barnhart Lords

      By any chance did your dad mentioned anybody’s name other than McMaster that was at Pearl Harbor? I am looking for the names of all the men that was on the Hoga so they can be recognized. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

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  24. Dale Rice DCCS USCG ret

    The City of Oakland fire boat was part of the welcome home display when the CGC Taney we re turned home to Alameda California from Vietnam in 1970. She may not of been in Pearl Harbor, she was at pier 6 downtown but she was credited with one Japanese plane shot down during the attack and after getting underway joined the USS Ward in dropping depth charges on mini submarines of the entrance to Pearl Harbor.

  25. Janet Barnhart Lords

    Looking for the original list of men on the USS Hoga that was stationed at Pearl Harbor 1941. Also looking for the Pearl Harbor Association plaque that was given in memory to my husband Melvin Ray Barnhart. I then donated the plaque to Chief William Moore
    ” City of Oakland” to be kept with the USS Hoga where I felt it belonged around 1978. If anyone has any information please contact me.

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