World War II landing tank to dock for tours in Decatur

INGALLS HARBOR – A landing ship tank from World War II that remains operational and the only one afloat in U.S. waters will dock at Ingalls Harbor for public tours.

The LST-325 was launched on Oct. 27, 1942 and commissioned on Feb. 1, 1943. Her shakedown cruise started on Feb. 17, 1943. After shakedown around Norfolk, Va., the LST-325 sailed to New York City. From there, the vessel left on March 19 with a brief stop in Bermuda and then set out for Oran, Algeria.

“Mark your calendars if you’d like to see a real Navy landing craft from World War II. You have a great opportunity see a major contributor to the victory of the United States,” Richard Blanton said. Blanton serves as historian for Madison American Legion, Post 229.

The USS LST-325 will arrive at Ingalls Harbor, 802-B Wilson St. in Decatur on Aug. 29 and will dock there until Sept. 3. Guided tours on these dates will run from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Visitors can inspect the main deck, troop berthing, tank deck, mess deck, galley, stern of ship, wheelhouse and Captain’s cabin. Tickets cost $10 for adults (18 years and older) and $5 for children (6 to 17 years old). Veterans of the Korea Conflict and children younger than six years old do not have to pay for admission.

“Questions and picture taking are encouraged,” Blanton said.

From June until Aug. 1943, the USS LST-325 made seven trips from Tunisia to Italy, transporting vehicles and men in support of the invasion of Sicily. In Sept. 1943, the vessel completed four trips from Tunisia to Italy to assist the invasion of Salerno.

From Dec. 1943 to May 1944, LST-325 was involved in extensive training exercises in England to prepare for the growing threat of war. On June 5, 1944, the tank sailed from England to France to carry elements of the 5th Special Engineer Brigade.

Then on June 7 following the invasion of Normandy, the LST-325 anchored off Omaha Beach and unloaded men and vehicles. Between June and April 1945, the tank made 43 round trips between England and France to unload additional men and vehicles at Omaha, Utah, Gold and Juno beaches.

“Like many of her class, she was not named and is properly referred to by her hull designation (LST-325),” Blanton said.

The mailing address for the vessel is USS LST Ship Memorial Inc., 840 LST Drive, Evansville, Ind. Its GPS setting is 1801 Waterworks Road.

For more information, call 812-435-8678, email 325office@lstmemorial.org or visit lstmemorial.org.

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