USS LST-325

USS LST-325 is a decommissioned tank landing ship of the United States Navy, now docked in Evansville, Indiana. Like many of her class, she was not named and is properly referred to by her hull designation (LSTs in service after July 1955 were named after U.S. counties and parishes).

The 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 (NRHP) 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 on 27 October 1942, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 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.

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 travelled 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 build 24 ships, the city would eventually produce 167 LSTs and 35 other vessels. LST-325 is now home ported in Evansville as a memorial museum to LSTs and the city’s war effort.

LST-325 in Evansville

The ship’s bridge

A restored M16 MGMC

A typical troop compartment

The ship’s crew, c.1945

The engine room

The tank deck, looking forward

A graphic, painted on the ship by the Greek crew

The ship’s crew from trans-Atlantic crossing

A 40 mm AA gun tub

The LST’s deck, from the wheelhouse deck

Ship’s wheel and engine order telegraph

LST-325s ribbons: American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two service stars, World War II Victory Medal