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North Little Rock | Donations still being collected for USS Hoga

Supporters of bringing an American warship home to North Little Rock for display at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum want to remind the public that donations are still being accepted to pay for the trip.

The USS Hoga is a 325-ton harbor tugboat built in May 1941 in Morris Heights, N.Y., and served in Pearl Harbor throughout World War II.

Greg Zonner, director of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum (AIMM), said there is a chance that the Hoga could be towed in October as it is working with Foss International, an American company, which would bring it here as it makes a trek to this part of the country with another vessel.

“To two the Hoga alone would cost about $1.5 million,” said Zonner. “To tow it with another would give us a price break of between $300,000 to $400,000.”

Zonner said suppoters of bringing the Hoga here are still have a way to go to get enough money to tow it here.

The USS Hoga is considered a hero for its actions during the Pearl Harbor attack. Getting underway within 10 minutes after the first bombs fell, the tugboat rescued sailors from the water, fought fires and pulled ships out of harm’s way.

It also towed the repair ship USS Vestal away from the USS Arizona’s burning hulk, assisted the damaged minesweeper USS Oglala and moved the burning battleship USS Nevada; thus, keeping the Pearl Harbor channel open.

She fought fires on the USS Nevada, USS Maryland, USS Tennessee, and USS Arizona. In all, the USS Hoga spent 72 continuous hours fighting fires following the Dec. 7, 1941 attacks. Because of her efforts, the tugboat’s commanding officer and crew received a commendation from Admiral Chester A. Nimitz, Commander of the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet.

In 1989, the USS Hoga received National Landmark Status while serving as a fireboat for the city of Oakland, Calif.

On July 28, 2005, the city of North Little Rock became the owner of the historic vessel.

Supporters say that the USS Hoga and USS Razorback represent the beginning and end of World War II. North Little Rock will be the only place in the continental United States where tourists can experience these vessels once the Hoga docks in North Little Rock.

The USS Hoga currently is docked in a shipyard near San Francisco Bay awaiting the journey to its final port in North Little Rock. Transporting the USS Hoga will begin as soon as funding is available.

Donations can be made to bring the Hoga here by visiting www.savethehoga.com. For persons have more questions, they can contact members of the Save the Hoga Committee c/o Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum, 120 Riverfront Park Drive, North Little Rock, AR, 72119, or by calling 501-371-8320.

Supporters say the USS Hoga will provide a unique educational opportunity to the general public and especially school children. It will be located next to the USS Razorback which also saw action in World War II, Vietnam, and the Cold War.

“If we are successful in bringing the Hoga to Arkansas, the Museum will be one of only two ports in the nation with ships from both the beginning an d the end of World War II,” said Major General (Ret.) Don C. Morrow, a member of the Save the Hoga Committee. “Most people have to travel to either coast to view historic vessels, and we want to make that experience more accessible to those in Middle America. We want to bring them to Arkansas.”

According to the AIMM website, the biggest obstacle to bringing the vessel here is the lack of suitable U.S. Flag Tugs and float-on/float off barges.

“The Navy’s standards require that Hoga be carried as cargo aboard a FLO/FLO barge, rather than being towed (as Razorback was),” according to the website. “We have a conference call with the Navy’s Ship Donation Program Office ever week. The Navy is actively assisting AIMM in locating a suitable Tug and Barge for movement of Hoga. As soon as a contract is signed for Hoga’s movement, AIMM will notify everyone. AIMM is looking forward to bringing Hoga to central Arkansas.”

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