Commander Percival James Nelson Hogan

By Harry Adlam

Percival James Nelson Hogan (1883-1949), naval engineer, was born on 22 December 1883 in Hobart, son of James Hogan, builder, and his wife Rebecca Rachael, née Burt. He was educated at The Friends' School, Hobart, and attended the University of Tasmania before training as an engineer with the Tasmanian government. He then worked in Scotland with Denny & Co of Dumbarton and Fairfield Shipbuilding Co of Govan, and with the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co.

In 1909, while in Britain, Hogan joined Australia's Commonwealth Naval Forces (CNF), as one of a team supervising the construction of the CNF's first torpedo-boat destroyers, HMAS Parramatta and HMAS Yarra, his initial rank was acting engineer sub-lieutenant but by December 1910 he was an Engineer Lieutenant. With the destroyers completed he returned to Australia in 1910 to serve as Engineer Officer in Parramatta until 1913. That year, on 3 November, he was transferred to HMAS Pioneer, a third class protected cruiser which the British government had presented to the RAN as a sea-going training ship for naval reservists. On 26 November he married Cissie Laura Crisp at Melville Street Methodist Church, Hobart; they had a son and a daughter.

Hogan's service in Pioneer was wide-ranging. In World War I his ship was posted to East Africa in 1915 during the campaign against the German colonies. He was appointed Acting Engineer Lieutenant Commander early in 1915, joined the cruiser HMS Encounter in April 1918 and was confirmed in rank in December; he was promoted Engineer Commander in July 1919. Transferred to HMAS Brisbane in the same rank in September, he remained in this ship until 1921 when he returned to Britain for advanced engineering courses. He was then appointed to HMAS Melbourne in January 1923 as Fleet Engineer Officer; in October he went to Flinders Naval Depot, Victoria, as Engineer Commander. By January 1926 he was back at sea as Squadron Engineer Officer in HMAS Sydney. His next appointment was to Britain to 'stand by' the new cruiser Australia, then being built at Clydebank, Scotland, and after serving as her Squadron Engineer Officer from May to December 1928 he became Engineer Manager at HMA Naval Dockyard, Garden Island, Sydney. His term at Garden Island was dogged by financial cut backs during the Depression as the RAN was gradually scaled down to four ships and work at the dockyard was reduced.

In 1933 Hogan retired from the RAN as an Engineer Commander but remained active as a consulting engineer and director of several companies. During World War II he was recalled for naval service as Engineer Officer, HMAS Penguin, the base ship for Garden Island. Diabetes and hypertension forced his retirement in 1944. Survived by his wife and daughter, he died on 26 February 1949 at Concord, Sydney, and was cremated with Methodist forms. Though not the easiest man to get on with, Percy Hogan commanded wide respect as a practical engineer and administrator. He was one of the first engineer officers of the RAN.