Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

August 23, 2010

History flows through it

War-tested ship checks in at Greenup locks; USS LST landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day, served until 1999

GREENUP — People fishing and spending a bit of recreational time at the Greenup Locks and Dams Monday saw something they aren’t likely to ever see again. A World War II-era ship used to deliver tanks to beaches made its way slowly up the Ohio River.

The USS LST 325, which measures more than 320 feet, served as a tank landing ship and was generally considered the only watercraft capable of going anywhere on Earth. It delivered tanks, trucks, ammunition, supplies and up to 500 soldiers into hostile territory during World War II.

The ships could carry as many as 20 Sherman tanks in the cargo area, or 30 to 40 trucks, or multiple tons of fuel, ammunition or equipment.

The LST ship’s general style began service during World War II and continued to be used during the wars in Korea and Vietnam.

The slow-moving ship that made its way against the current Monday was among the first to be built, and served U.S. and Allied forces in Europe during campaigns in Normandy, Sicily and Salerno.

The USS LST 325 was at Omaha Beach on D-Day and completed 43 journeys across the English Channel to transport vehicles and supplies to support the massive invasion and liberation of occupied France.

After doing its WWII duty, the USS LST 325 served with the Greek Navy until 1999.

The ship was returned to America in 2001 by a dedicated group of U.S. Navy veterans whose average age was 72.

It is believed to be the only fully intact and operational LST of the more than 1,000 that were produced.

Because of the flat-bottom design that allowed it to be piloted directly onto beaches, LST-style ships were often constructed at inland river shipyards and delivered along local rivers until they rode the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico.

The USS LST 325, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is on its way to the annual Sternwheel Festival in Marietta. To learn more about the ship, visit  lstmemorial.org.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.

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