Today, we take time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation.
Go with us on a look back in history to the service of Foss Maritime during WWII:
In February 1941, the 1889 tugboat Arthur Foss was sent under charter agreement with contractors to Wake Island in the Pacific for construction of harbors and air bases. In March she was joined by another of the Foss Maritime Fleet, Justine Foss. Arthur Foss, under Captain Oscar Rolstad, was assigned the task of towing barges loaded with supplies and construction equipment from Honolulu.
Twelve hours out of Wake en route back to Honolulu, the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor was received. Painted white and highly visible the ship was a likely target, “standing out like a chain of coral islands on the empty sea.” Despite some discussion of heading for Alaska, the ship continued to Pearl Harbor under radio silence. While underway, the crew hastily mixed all the paint on board with engine grease, and repainted the decks a dark gray to help her blend in with the ocean.
The tug was spotted by US Naval scout planes and escorted into Pearl Harbor on December 28, 1941 where Admiral Claude Bloch cited the crew for action beyond the call of duty. Arthur Foss was the last vessel to escape Wake Island before Imperial Japanese forces captured the island on December 23, 1941.
Arthur Foss and her crew escaped the fate of Justine Foss that was captured, forced to serve Japanese purposes and then scuttled with members of her crew executed along with many of the other civilian contractors held captive. Arthur Foss was acquired by the US Navy in 1942, and returned to Foss Towing and Barge Co. after World War II.
Foss Maritime, an NACM member, retired Arthur in 1970 and donated her to Northwest Seaport. Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989, she is moored at Seattle’s South Lake Union Park where ongoing restoration and maintenance are part of an interesting educational program. Tours are available of the oldest wooden hulled tugboat afloat in the U.S.
On this Memorial Day, everyone at NACM extends our gratitude and respect to Foss Maritime, as well as all who have served and continue to protect our great nation.