The USS LST-325 arrivedat Ross’s Landing today and will bemoored there until Sept. 17.
This historic U.S. Navy ship-the only functioning LST (landing ship tank)left in the world-was greeted by waving and cheering crowdsduring its travels 500 miles down the Ohio and Tennessee riversfrom Evansville, Indiana, to Chattanooga.
“People were cheering and waving along the banks of the river as we passed by-and traffic stopped on bridges so people could watch the LST pass,” said former Navy coxswain Irwin Kuhns, who is part of theLST-325 team andserved on an LST during World War II.
Chattanooga’s reception was no less enthusiastic. Cars stopped on the highway, and people were waiting on the riverbanks at Ross’s Landing this morningwhen the ship arrived.
“I stopped onmy way to work this morning, and it was very emotional,” said Chuck Hammonds, assistant executive director of the Southeast Tennessee Development District.“There were a lot of elderly men down there with faraway looks in their eyes.”
The Chattanooga Police Department even got in on the action, spending part of the daytraining on the ship.
LSTs are U.S. Navy ships that weredesigned for World War II in an effort to deliver battle-ready tanks, vehicles, soldiers and supplies directly onto enemy beaches. TheUSS LST-325participated in the D-Day Invasion at Omaha Beach, Normandy, June 6, 1944, as well as other invasions and occupations.
The USS LST-325 was launched Oct. 27, 1942, and commissioned Feb. 1, 1943. On Sept. 1, 1961, it was struck from the Naval Register of Ships and transferred to the National Defense Reserve Fleet. In November 1999, by act of the Congress of the United States, it was given to the LST Ship Memorial Inc.
Today, the shipis atraveling museum, and it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“Visitors to this LST are seeing the real thing,” said Kuhns, who is from Ohio. “Thousands of people have been on this ship. If the ship could talk, you probably couldn’t print it.”
Tours of the LST-325 will be offeredtomorrow through Sept. 17 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The cost is$10 for adults and $5 for ages6-17; children 5 and under are free.The familyrate fortwo adults and two children is $20. Visitors are encouraged to bring cameras.
To learn more, visit www.LSTMemorial.org.
Jenni Frankenberg Veal is a Chattanooga-basedwriter and naturalist who enjoys promoting the region’s historical, cultural and natural assets through her work with the Southeast Tennessee Tourism Association. Visit her blog atwww.YourOutdoorFamily.com.