USS Hogan (DD-178/DMS-6) — (San Diego — 120 fsw)

This is my 199th post. This post along with the 200th post will be about the USS Hogan.


The USS Hogan is one of my favorite wrecks in the Southern California area.

Many might not understand why this wreck is so appealing to dive — after all, there is little left of the structure of this Wickes-class destroyer. I will provide more details in the 200th (next) post, but I recently built a complete, high-res photogrammetry model of the Hogan and you can see that it doesn’t retain much of the shape of a destroyer but you can still make it out:

USS Hogan Wreck (Stern on the left)

However, if you understand the history of the Hogan and you look around the wreck, you will definitely come to appreciate all that she offers. For example, here is a photo of the stern section that I took a couple years ago with my LX-10 compact camera. The strawberry anemones are just amazing.

Stern section of the USS Hogan

USS Hogan History

The Hogan was one of 111 Wickes-class destroyers build between 1917-1919. Think about that for just a minute: 111 destroyers built in 2-3 years — and that doesn’t account for all the airplanes and other ships that the US built in that time period. Of the 111 Wickes-class destroyers, 9 were sunk in battle, 5 were sunk as targets (including the Hogan), 7 were sunk or destroyed in other ways, and 90 were scrapped.

The Wickes-class ships were 314 feet long and had a beam of 30 feet. That is a pretty narrow beam for the length and you can see how lean and narrow they are in the pictures. It had four boilers (more on that in a bit) and 2 steam turbines/shafts/props. With all that power and the thin profile, they had a top speed of 35 knots (40 mph) and had a crew of 100 officers and enlisted. Because of the four boilers, they had four smokestacks and are accordingly commonly called “four pipers” or “four stackers.”

USS Hogan on 29 July 1943 (National Archives photo 80-G-78641 from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships)

These destroyers were built to have long cruising distances, to be maneuverable, and to have fast cruising speeds. The onset of submarine warfare during WW1 necessitated the surge in destroyers.

As an interesting comparison, below is a picture of two destroyers and one battleship going through the Panama Canal:

USS Maryland (BB-46), USS Hovey (DD-208), and USS Long (DD-209) from the Naval History & Heritage Command

The two destroyers look absolutely tiny compared to the massive size of the battleship. The world was about the change and the “power” was going to shift to the aircraft carriers and submarines as the modern naval power.

The Hogan was built by Union Iron Works in San Francisco, California and was launched on 12 April 1919 and commissioned on 1 October 1919. After her shakedown, she joined the Pacific Destroyer Force out of San Diego.

Photo from Navsource. Circa 1920, location unknown

Fun fact is that she became the first ship to be refueled while underway. She spent her early career as a destroyer in the Pacific theater assisting battleships and conducting torpedo firing exercises and was decommissioned prior to WW II on 27 May 1922.

She was recommissioned on 7 Aug 1940 and underwent a conversion to a high-speed destroyer minesweeper (DMS) and reclassified as the DMS-6. There were seven other Wickes-class ships that were also converted to destroyer minesweepers. As a minesweeper, she had three Yarrow boilers and two 27,000 shp Bethlehem geared turbines, a Falk single reduction gear, and two shafts.

Note in the photo above there are now only there smokestacks. We’ll get to that in the next post on the photogrammetry model.

The Hogan outfitted as a DMS started WW II in the Atlantic and took part in the invasion of North Africa and conducted antisubmarine patrols. She returned to Norfolk in late 1942 and spent most of 1943 on the east coast of the US conducting coastal convoy duties. She left Norfolk to join the Pacific Fleet and transited the Panama Canal in December. She was heavily involved in anti-submarine patrols for most of 1944 and was involved in the invasion of Saipan and the epic battles in the Mariannas (e.g., Guam), the Marshall Islands, and the Philippines (e.g., Luzon) . She went back to the US for repairs in October 1944 but then quickly went back to the war in the Pacific and spent time in the Leyte Gulf and took part in the assault on Iwo Jima in February 1945.

The Hogan received six battle stars for her service in WW II for sinking four submarines and shooting down two airplanes.

She underwent major repairs and was reclassified as AG-105 (AG is classification for Miscellaneous Auxiliary) on 5 June 1945. She was decommissioned on 11 October 1945 and struck from the registry on 1 November 1945. The Hogan was assigned as a target ship for bombing tests and was sank during bombing practice off of San Diego on 8 November 1945.

The Wreck

The wreck of the Hogan lies in about 120 feet of water right on the US / Mexico border. I’ve heard that part of the wreck is actually “over the line” and into Mexico waters but haven’t confirmed that. I contacted Steve Lawson to get some history of how the wreck was located and identified. Below is from an email he sent me (emphasis is mine):

“According to fishing friend of mine that lived in San Diego, the wreck was known to fishermen sometime in the 1980s. Larry Cochran, owner of the dive boat Lois Ann found out about the site and at some point in time, a diver determined it was a wreck.  The wreck’s location remained a secret and only a limited few were taken out to the wreck site on the Lois Ann. During this time, one of the divers recovered some wreckage (likely a piece of brass) with its name or designator (DD-178) stamped on it, identifying it as the Hogan.  California Wreck Divers charted the Lois Ann and I first dived it around 1990.

While it was clear the wreck was of a Wickes/Clemson Class DD, its identity was based on hearsay.  I believe that Gary Fabian pointed out that she and 17 others were converted to high-speed minesweepers. Large rollers were mounted on the stern to tow minesweeper gear and a few feet of their sterns were cut off and made flat to make it resemble a transom (the DDs had a swept or pointed stern).  Her transom stern was verified by divers and since the fates of the other high speed minesweepers was known, by process of elimination it was determined to be the Hogan.”

Below is the photo of the stern of a sister ship USS Chandler (DD-260 / DMS-9) that had the same modifications completed and you can see the “flat” stern compared to the swept or pointed stern of a “standard” destroyer.

USS Chandler with a “flat” stern

According to, the “Conversion involved removing the number 4 boiler and stack plus all torpedo tubes, and modifying the stern to support sweeping davits, winch, paravanes, and kites.” Below is a section of blueprints of a “standard” Wickes-class destroyer on the left and a converted DMS vessel on the right and you can clearly see the difference:

As mentioned above, many might casually look at the wreck or the photogrammetry model and think “meh” just another debris pile. But, if you look closer and take your time, you are likely to find a lot of really cool things.

First, the wreck usually has a few wolf eels. I wasn’t looking for them on either of my photogrammetry dives, but I have seen them there in the past and people often dive the Hogan JUST to see wolf eels since they are so common there. Drew Wilson and I were on the latest dive together and he got a good picture of a wolf eel peeking out of a hole:

Wolf Eel on the Hogan by Drew Wilson

In addition to the Wolf Eels, there are often very large ling cod at the site. On my latest dive, I kept scaring them (I was on a rebreather) and they would fly off when they figured out I was there.

Ling cod nestled amongst the debris

The most “iconic” part of the Hogan is the stern section which has the very distinct prop guards off to each side, the crew wash room in front of it towards the bow, and the strawberry anemones on the very back section along with the rudder askew. In the section below are some photos I took on my most recent two dives. I wasn’t shooting for composition and the conditions weren’t great on the second dive, but they will give you a sense of the wreck. The other memorable sections are the three boilers and what is left of the bow.


I recently did two dives on the Hogan with the goal of building a photogrammetry model of the wreck. It is one of those wrecks where it is hard to “see” what the “big picture” looks like without a model.

The conditions on the first dive were simply amazing. In fact, they were so good that I decided to do the whole dive without artificial light. Below is a selection of photos from that first dive.



Crew wash room & Stern Section

Below is a gallery of photos from the second dive. I had artificial light on this dive so you can see the “real” colors. However, the conditions were nowhere as good and there were a lot of particulate matter in the water.

The Hogan truly is a great wreck if you stop and take the time to look around and if you understand her history. My next post will be specific to the photogrammetry model I built of this amazing wreck.


Wikipedia Wickes-class Destroyer

Wikipedia USS Hogan

Navsource photos of the Hogan

Navsource on Hogan (AG 105)

California Wreck Divers Hogan Page

Destroyer History on DMS conversions

Thanks To…

Steve Lawson for the history of finding / identifying the wreck

Lora & Chris at Marissa for always being so fun to dive with and so professional as a dive operation

Drew for being a “safety diver” and buddy on the second dive

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