World War II Naval Ship to visit Marietta over sternwheel weekend

Published 10:33 am Monday, August 2, 2010

MARIETTA — The USS LST 325, a World War II Tank Landing Ship, will visit Marietta Sept. 8 through Sept. 14, coinciding with the annual Sternwheel Festival weekend.

This 328 foot long ship will dock near the Sternwheel gathering. It will be available for tours Thursday, Sept. 9 through Tuesday, Sept. 14.

These ships could carry 20 Sherman tanks in the giant hold within the ship.

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They were the only ships ever made that could go anywhere in the world and deposit their cargo onto a hostile beach and then return for another load.

On the main deck they could also carry 30 to 40 trucks, tons of fuel, ammunition and supplies, plus up to 500 soldiers. The LST’s were used during World War II, Korea, and the Vietnam conflicts.

This ship was at Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and made 43 subsequent trips across the English Channel carrying vehicles and supplies to France and returning with wounded soldiers and prisoners of war.

USS LST 325 was one of the first to be built and served in three European campaigns; Sicily, Salerno and Normandy.

After duty with the Greek Navy from 1964 to 1999 it was repatriated and sailed back to the USA in 2001 by a hardy group of Navy veterans, the average age of which was 72. It is the only fully intact and operational LST remaining in the United States out of over 1,051 produced. It was built in 1942 at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.

Due to the quantity required for war duty, five inland river shipyards were contracted to build these vessels. Since they were shallow draft with flat bottoms for driving directly onto beaches, they could be built inland and sailed down major rivers to the Mississippi and then to open sea. 270 of these ships were built in Pittsburgh by both the Dravo and Ambridge shipyards. Other shipyards were Jeffersonville, Ind., Evansville, Ind., and Seneca, Ill. on the Illinois River. In addition to Marietta, LST325 will visit Wheeling, W.Va. and Pittsburgh, Pa. before heading back to its Home Port of Evansville, Ind.

Marietta and southern Ohio area citizens, visitors and school groups, are in for a once-in-a- lifetime treat with tours of the ship assisted by crewmembers, as well as other festivities.

This is truly a piece of world history and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This will be the first time an ocean going U.S. Naval ship of this type has been seen in Marietta since 1945 when they traveled downriver from Pittsburgh to New Orleans and the open sea.