The LST-325 (Landing Ship, Tank), a World War II amphibious vessel designed
to land battle-ready tanks, troops and supplies directly onto enemy shores, will once again be plying the waters, but this time, being towed as a floating memorial making a maiden educational voyage on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers this summer. The LST-325 is one of only two World War II LSTs to be preserved in the United States and is crewed solely by veterans. Towing services are being provided by several barge companies including Kirby Corporation (Houston, TX); Luhr Bros
. (Columbia, IL); Madison Coal and Supply (Charleston, WV); MEMCO Barge Line (Chesterfield, MO), and American Commercial Barge Lines (Jeffersonville, IN). Acquired by the USS LST Ship Memorial, Inc. in 2000, the LST-325 now serves as a museum and memorial ship for the men who bravely served their country aboard LSTs. Recreating a voyage made by LSTs in 1946 to thank workers who built many of the ships in America's heartland in the early 1940s, the LST-325 will launch a 78-day journey beginning June 3, 2003 in Mobile, Alabama. It will make ports of call in Vicksburg, MS; Memphis, TN; Cape Girardeau and St. Louis, MO; Evansville and Jeffersonville, IN; Paducah, KY, Greenville
, MS, and New Orleans, LA, before returning to Mobile on August 19, 2003. With a total of 27 days underway, 51 total days in port, 78 total cruise days, 651.8 total hours underway and a total of 3,149.3 miles, the LST- 325 will offer public tours and ceremonies at each landside stop.
Launched on October 27, 1942 and commissioned on February 1, 1943, the LST-325 has a rich history, serving in the World War II invasions of North Africa, Salerno, Sicily, and Normandy. In 2000, the ship was saved from a Greek scrap yard, to which it had been sold, and brought back to the U.S. with a crew made up of World War II veterans with an average age of 72.
"The restoration of the LST-325 for its upcoming voyage on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers will allow visitors from all over this country and the world to pay tribute to the proud voyages of yesteryear and to the men who so bravely served aboard these great war ships
," said Bob Jornlin, Captain of the LST-325.