USS Hoga (YT-146)

aka: City of Oakland [Boat]

The USS Hoga (YT-146) is a Woban-class District Harbor Tug built in 1940. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989 in recognition of actions during the December 7, 1941, Japanese attack on the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. It later served as a fireboat, called the City of Oakland, in California before becoming part of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 2015.

The keel of the Hoga—named for the Sioux word for fish—was laid down on July 25, 1940, by the Consolidated Shipbuilding Corporation of Morris Heights, New York, and it was launched on December 31, 1940. Designated YT-146 (for Yard Tug), the Hoga was put in service on May 22, 1941. The welded-steel vessel weighs 218 tons, measures 100 feet long and twenty-five feet wide, and has a nine-foot-seven-inch draft. It was powered by twin diesel 650-hp McIntosh and Seymour engines, and it carried a ten-man crew.

After being accepted by the U.S. Navy, the Hoga steamed to Pearl Harbor from Norfolk, Virginia, via the Panama Canal, to San Diego and San Pedro, California. The vessel was moored at Dock 1010 when Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941.

With orders to “assist wherever we could,” Tugmaster Joseph B. McManus and his crew moved into Pearl Harbor, plucking two men from the water. They then sailed to assist the repair ship Vestal, which was tethered to the stricken battleship USS Arizona, and towed it to safety. The Hoga and YT-130 were assisting the minesweeper USS Oglala when they were ordered to help the battleship USS Nevada, which was under heavy Japanese attack that threatened to sink it in a place that would block the entrance to the harbor. The two tugs towed the Nevada to Hospital Point on the west side of Pearl Harbor, where it was beached. The Hoga spent the next hour spraying water on the flames threatening the battleship. The tugboat then returned to Battleship Row to fight flames on the USS Tennessee, USS Maryland, and (for more than forty-eight hours) the USS Arizona. Admiral Chester Nimitz in 1942 personally commended McManus, his crew, and the Hoga for their actions during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Hoga spent the rest of World War II at Pearl Harbor, being reclassified as a YTB (Yard Tug, Large) on May 15, 1944. The Navy transferred the tugboat on loan to Oakland, California, in 1948. It underwent a $73,000 reconditioning by the Pacific Coast Engineering Company before beginning service as the fireboat Port of Oakland (later City of Oakland). The vessel spent the next forty years performing firefighting and rescue duties in the busy harbor, and the navy reclassified it as a YTM (Yard Tug, Medium) on February 1, 1962. The tugboat carried President Jimmy Carter on a tour of the Port of Oakland on July 3, 1980. The vessel was placed out of service in July 1996 and transferred to the Maritime Administration at Suisun Bay, California.

Several cities vied for possession of the Hoga as a museum boat, and on July 28, 2015, the City of North Little Rock succeeded in acquiring it for display at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum on the Arkansas River. A decade of fundraising followed, and multiple difficulties ensued in transporting the tugboat from California to Arkansas, but the Hoga reached its new home on November 23, 2015. The museum also has on display the submarine USS Razorback, which was present at the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay in 1945, giving the facility the distinction of owning vessels present at both the first and last days of American involvement in World War II. On June 30, 1989, the Hoga was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark.

For additional information:
Delgado, James P. “City of Oakland, ex-Hoga (YTB-146).” National Historic Landmark nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/USS%20HOGA__NHL%20nomination_1989.pdf (accessed July 13, 2018).

Hoga.” Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval History and Heritage Command. https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/h/hoga.html (accessed July 13, 2018).

Sandlin, Jake, “Hoga Hung up in Houston.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, November 10, 2015, p. 1B.

———. “Hoga’s Home after 15-Year Journey.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, November 24, 2015, p. 1A.

———. “Pearl Harbor Tugboat to Offer 1st Public Tours.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, December 3, 2018, pp. 1B, 3B.

———. “USS Hoga Joins 3 Survivors of Attack.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, December 8, 2015, p. 1A.

“USS Hoga.” Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum. http://aimmuseum.org/uss-hoga/ (accessed July 13, 2018).

Mark K. Christ
Little Rock, Arkansas

Last Updated: 02/10/2020