World War II’s USS LST 325 Can Be Found in Evansville, Indiana

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LT 325

Photos by Hobo Stu

Staff Reports

USS LST 325, located at 840 LST Dr., Evansville, Indiana, 11 months out of the year, participated in several operations, most notable was D-Day at Omaha Beach, Normandy, according to historical accounts.

Touring the USS LST 325 is like taking a step back in time. The ship holds so much history from her decades of service in combat to her time in Greece serving in the Hellenic Navy.

According to the LST 325 Memorial website, ship was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2009. The property was added to the National Register of Historic Places on 24 June 2009 and the listing was announced as the featured listing in the National Park Service’s weekly list of 2 July 2009.

LST-325 was launched, according to official accounts, on October 27, 1942, at Philadelphia. From there she took part in numerous campaigns during World War II.

The ship operated in the North Africa area and participated in the invasions at Gela, Sicily and Salerno, Italy. On 6 June 1944, LST-325 was part of the largest armada in history by participating in the Normandy Landings at Omaha Beach. She carried 59 vehicles, 31 officers and a total of 408 enlisted men on that first trip.

On her first trip back to England from France, LST-325 hauled 38 casualties back to a friendly port. Over the next nine months, Navy records show LST-325 made more than 40 trips back and forth across the English Channel, carrying thousands of men and pieces of equipment needed by troops to successfully complete the liberation of Europe. The ship continued to run supply trips between England and France before returning to the United States in March 1945. LST-325 was decommissioned on 2 July 1946, at Green Cove Springs, Florida, and laid up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, according to Wikipedia.

The ship was placed in service with the Military Sea Transportation Service in 1951 as USNS T-LST-325, and took part in “Operation SUNAC” (Support of North Atlantic Construction), venturing into the Labrador Sea, Davis Strait, and Baffin Bay to assist in the building of radar outposts along the eastern shore of Canada and western Greenland.

Struck from the Naval Vessel Register, on 1 September 1961, T-LST-325 was transferred to the Maritime Administration(MARAD) for lay up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet.

T-LST-325 was sent to Greece on 1 September 1964, as part of the grant-in-aid program. She served in the Hellenic Navy as RHS Syros (L-144) from 1964 to 1999.

The USS LST Memorial, Inc., a group of retired military men, acquired Syros in 2000. They paid their way to Greece, made the necessary repairs to the ship and sailed her back to the United States, arriving in Mobile Harbor on 10 January 2001. In 2003,LST-325 made a sentimental journey up the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The 10-day stop in Evansville, Indiana, allowed more than 35,000 people to take a tour. In May and June 2005, she sailed up the east coast under her own power for a 60-day tour of several ports, visiting Alexandria, Virginia, and Buzzard’s Bay, Boston, Gloucester, Massachusetts. LST-325 is one of the last navigable LSTs in operation in the U.S. Others include USS LST-510 in daily use as a ferry between Orient, New York and New London, Connecticut, and the dredge MV Columbia operating on the Gulf Coast. She is undergoing constant maintenance and restoration, and is in excellent shape, according to her crew. On 1 October 2005, Evansville, Indiana, became her home port (although she still visits other ports each year).

During World War II, the Evansville, Indiana, riverfront was transformed into a 45-acre (18 ha) shipyard to produce LSTs. At its peak, the Evansville Shipyard employed a workforce of over 19,000 and completed two of these massive ships per week, becoming the largest inland producer of LSTs in the nation. Although the Evansville Shipyard was originally contracted to produce 24 ships, 167 LSTs and 35 other vessels were built in Evansville.

The USS LST 325 is located just off Water Works Road (Click Here for a Map) in Evansville’s Downtown 11 months out of the year.  During the month of September the ship sails to other port cities to share a piece of our nation’s history and to educate the public about LSTs and the men who served on them.

It is a WWII vessel and maintained as accurately as possible, and thus it is not readily accessible by wheelchair.  The ship does have 3 sets of stairs up and down for the full tour.  A main deck tour is offered that is roughly 30-45 minutes long and consists of the history, guns, Officer’s Country and Galley if possible (must be able to step over hatches), and the Stern of the ship (Guns and Anchor).  Guides also try to make every tour special.  Please call ahead for all Main Deck tours. Call 812-435-8678 for more information.

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