Historic D-Day Landing Ship Lives On In Indiana

A historic LST (Landing Ship, Tank) from the D-Day landing on June 6, 1944, continues to live on. The USS LST 325 that ferried tanks, supplies, soldiers, and equipment to the landing beach at Normandy is in pristine condition at Evansville, Indiana.

Volunteer, Captain Robert “Bob” Kubota, a licensed tugboat pilot, said Winston Churchill paid tribute to the ship saying it was the ship that won the war. The LSTs didn’t only ferry tanks but all the additional material required to fight a modern conflict.

Irwin Kuhns, a member of the crew and a WWII veteran, was a U.S. Navy coxswain in the Pacific. He assisted in delivering supplies using Higgins boats, a smaller supply vessel employed to ferry troops to shore.

The 328-foot and 50-foot wide LST wasn’t always in working condition. It was decommissioned after the war then re-commissioned for service in the Arctic Sea. It was formally removed from the catalog of Navy ships in 1961 then handed over to Greece a few years later. The ship stayed in the Greek Navy as Syros until nearly 2000.

Robert “Bob” Jornlin, who was an engineering officer aboard an LST class ship during the Cuban Missile Crisis, was a member of the team that assisted in recovering the ship in 2000 from a Greek shipyard. The crew of Korean War and World War II veterans paid their own way.

“It took the American government four years to have it given to us. All that was required was to travel 6,500 miles to Crete and remove her from the junk yard, reassemble her and get her running, and take her home; then came the red tape.”

They couldn’t come back, they couldn’t get her registered as an American ship despite it being made in Philadelphia and lasting throughout the Second World War, he explained, so they came back as a pirate ship.

Second World War veteran and volunteers said LST 325 is the last of its type that’s completely operational out of the multitude built by the United States, Fox News reported.

Museum president Ken Frank said most of the $250,000 operational cost is derived from gift shop sales, membership fees, donations, and admission fees.

Tours of the ship occur all-year round while the ship is berthed in Evansville and during visits other American cities annually.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE