Tour the USS LST 325, Evansville Indiana

During World War II, there were more LSTs built in Evansville, Indiana, than in any other inland location.  It’s fitting, then, that Evansville is home to the only operational naval museum in the nation, the LST 325.  On a tour of the ship, you’ll learn about its operations and how military personnel lived on board.

Front_of_LST

Back_half_of_LST

LST 325 guns

The flat-bottomed LST carried wheeled vehicles like Sherman tanks to strategic military locations. However,  it didn’t move very fast. It moved at only 9.8 knots, or 12-13 miles per hour at the fastest.  LST stands for Landing Ship, Tank, but according to tour guide Mike, military personnel joked that it stood for Long Slow Target or Last Ship There.  The flat bottom is the reason the ships were able to navigate the Ohio River from Evansville.  Fully loaded, they sat only about nine feet into the water.  Today, the jeep used in the movie M.A.S.H. is the only military vehicle on board.  The wheel base on jeeps like this was longer to accommodate stretchers.

M.A.S.H. Jeep

Spotting planes launched off the deck of the LST, with only one-fourth of the deck to get up to 30 mph and take off.

Planes_on_deck

On the tour you’ll see the sleeping quarters and get the explanation of why everyone wanted the top bunk.

Sleeping_quarters

You’ll see the mess area and items used on board. Mike explained that the voice powered phone works “like tin cans and a string on steroids.”

Personnel_transfer_chair

Get behind the wheel in the wheel house. However, it’s hands off in the radio room. The radio room is equipped with both modern radios, as well as radios exactly like those used when the LST 325 was in full operation.  In fact, staff of the LST 325 were able to communicate with the space station recently as it passed over.

Wheelhouse

Radio_Room

Many of the LSTs were scrapped as they were taken out of operation.  However, in 1964 the LST 325 (built in Philadelphia, not Evansville) was given to Greece. Greece kept it for 36 years.  In 2000, when Greece no longer had need for it, a group of volunteers brought the ship back to Mobile, Alabama. Eventually, they moved it to Chattanooga and then to Evansville.  You’ll notice the Greek flag still painted in the tank deck next to the American flag.

Flags

Special Mention

Mr_and_Mrs_Robert_Spahn

On our tour we were honored with tour guests Robert Spahn and his wife.  Mr. Spahn was assigned to an LST when he was in the military during World War II.  While he worked mainly below deck on motor maintenance, he had his turns manning the guns and was credited with shooting down three Japanese Kamikaze planes.  Mr. Spahn was one of the youngest men on his ship, and at age 88 today, he is one of just a few of the 107 assigned to his ship still living.  Stories of the men who served aboard ships like the LST 325 continue to be kept alive through museums like the one docked in Evansville.

Gun_at_bow

 

If you visit the USS LST 325 Ship Memorial

The USS LST Ship Memorial is located at 840 LST Drive, Evansville, Indiana.  Check the web site for further details.

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USS LST 325

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Disclosure:  My tour of the USS LST 325 was hosted by the Evansville Convention & Visitors Bureau and the USS LST Ship Memorial, but any opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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4 thoughts on “Tour the USS LST 325, Evansville Indiana

  • April 3, 2014 at 2:12 pm
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    Thank you for sending the article. We sent it on to the rest of our family. They enjoyed the tour that day.

    Reply
    • April 4, 2014 at 4:51 am
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      Thank you for forwarding the article. We enjoyed the tour, too. Mike, our guide, did a great job with his explanations and stories, bringing the human element into it. And your stories enhanced it.

      Reply
  • June 1, 2017 at 2:51 pm
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    My name is Priscilla Roberts widow of M/Gen. J Milnor Roberts who was there and remembered LST 325 from D day- It was my job in Cong. Ralph Hall’s office to bring home LST 325 by Congressional action. In the Defense Authorization Act of 2001 we were able to transfer LST 325 back to the LST Memorial Association. It was my job to get this done and it took 4 years to do it. . We were in Mobile Alabama when she came in to a huge welcoming crowd- after crossing the cold December Atlantic waters from Greece- January 2001. I l ive in Arlington, Va. -my husband died Jan 2, 2009. and I carry on.

    Reply
    • June 1, 2017 at 7:37 pm
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      What a great story, Priscilla. Thank you for your part in bringing the LST 325 home, and thank you for sharing your story. We enjoyed reading about your husband, General Roberts, on ddaywarrior.com.

      Reply

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