Here we have a small forlorn, weather beaten and rusty boat next to some big ships since 1996. Much like our Curbside Classics abandoned behind an old building. Ah, but that would be deceiving as she has quite a history.
Now I am quite familiar with this little boat. You see she was first Port of Oakland and then City of Oakland Fireboat for forty years. A friend of mine, in the 80’s, was one of her three Captains with the Oakland Fire Department where the boat was kept berthed next to a firehouse. She battled ship board fires, warehouse fires, rescued people and gave Jimmy Carter a tour of the harbor in 1980.
Yet before she was loaned to the City of Oakland she was YT-146 with YT standing for yard tug and entered service in May 1941. She also had a more formal name on her stern, Hoga. That places her in a very select group of boats made up of just two. She is one of the two last survivors of Pearl Harbor with the other being USCGC Taney in Baltimore.
Here she is helping push the USS Nevada out of the channel at Pearl Harbor after she tried to make a run for the open ocean but was stopped short. Photos courtesy of NavSource where I have had my photos linked which has a history of the Hoga http://www.navsource.org/archives/14/08146.htm
I wasn’t aware that she was in the Suisun Reserve Fleet as the Captain I knew had retired and moved to the Midwest long ago. So imagine my surprise when one day we are approaching a row I had never been on and I recognized what we were to disembark onto.
She was declared a National Historical Landmark in 1989 which doesn’t really mean much as she could still be scrapped. So now she sat and waited for an organization to appear and take her under tow to preserve her. She became lucky as she was taken in by the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum and was moved to Mare Island in 2012. It still took several more years for her to hitch a boat to Arkansas. Naturally I had my camera with me like always to shoot her for my files.
Well that sums up my first attempt to document ships or boats that people see as ships or boats. However, to the crews of those ships and boats they are more than that way more than that. There is an emotional attachment to their ship that lasts a lifetime. While I was never in the Navy, courtesy President Nixon, my 20 years of volunteering on the Hornet have amounted to about 1200 days of my life. That has created an emotional attachment to my ship if you will. It has also given me the chance to make four former sailors, who served on two ships in the Reserve Fleet, a last chance to go aboard their ships by making them USS Hornet crew for a day and the chance to join us. Today the 120 ships of 1999 are now down to four.