These all came in on google alerts today.......
LST 325 Keokuk Down River (37 pics):
Hannibal courier takes you on a tour of the LST. For those who can't get down to the ship, perhaps you can sit back & pretend you are walking the decks with these videos. (There's also nice comments under the videos.)
Fyi, Once you get into the youtube site, you can find all sorts of videos on the 325.
While this isn't new news, it's fun to read & remember back when the ship came from Greece.
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Naval historians say the idea for the ships came from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill after the battle of Dunkirk in 1940, when British troops were forced to leave behind tons of equipment because they had no vessels capable of approaching the shore closely enough to retrieve the scarce material. "What is being done about designing and planning vessels to transport tanks across the sea for a British attack on enemy countries?" Churchill wrote to his minister of supply. "These must be able to move six or seven hundred vehicles in one voyage and land them on the beach or, alternatively, take them off the beaches."
Early efforts to modify existing vessels failed, but the concept still won approval from the British military. In November 1941, at the request of the British government, John Niedermair of the U.S. Bureau of Ships designed a ship that could take on water ballast for stability at sea and could discharge the water to produce a shallow-draft ship capable of a beach landing. Before the end of the war, American shipyards had produced 1,051 LSTs, with construction time for each ship down to two months or less. According to the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, "such a high priority was assigned to the construction of LSTs that the keel of an aircraft carrier, previously laid in the dock, was hastily removed to make place for several LSTs to be built in her stead."
The keel of the first LST was laid down in June 1942 at Newport News, Va. By the end of 1942, 23 LSTs were in commission: among them, the LST-325, whose keel was laid in August 1942. The ship was launched on Oct. 27, 1942 and commissioned on Feb. 1, 1943. Its first commander, Ira Ehrensall, attended the ship's arrival in Mobile.
With only light armament aboard and a top cruising speed of 11 knots, the LSTs seemed to deserve their title of "long, slow target," yet despite the hard-fought battles in which they were employed, only 23 LSTs were lost to enemy action. Thirteen more were lost to accidents or rough seas.
The LST-325 survived the war in Europe and was decommissioned in Green Cove Springs, Fla., in July 1946 and assigned to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. In 1951, the ship was returned to service with the Military Sea Transportation Service, forerunner of the Military Sealift Command, as the USNS LST-325. The ship came back out of service and was struck from the Naval Register in 1961. In 1963, the Navy re-acquired the vessel and transferred it to Greece in May 1964. Renamed Syros, the ship operated in the Greek Navy for more than 30 years. After the Greek Navy retired the ship in the late 1990s, it remained idle until the LST memorial group acquired it last year.
The veterans spent four months in Greece repairing the ship and battling some unexpected pests. About 150 sailors from a nearby U.S. Navy base helped fix it up, and it sailed on Nov. 14 arrived in Gibraltar Nov. 30, where they faced more repairs.
The trip wasn't without problems. Although their gyrocompass, generator and satellite communications gear have been inoperable at times, the crew has managed to stay on course and healthy, despite some colds, according to their reports home. A mechanical problem forced the crew to steer the LST
manually and malfunctioning toilets also complicated the passage, according to the captain's log. They had engine trouble in the Mediterranean and stopping for nearly a month. Besides the engine trouble, one member of the crew, Bill Hart, became seriously ill shortly after the ship left Greece. He died after returning to the United States.
Blanton Blankenship, site director of Fort Morgan, watched the LST pass that historic location with about 30 people in the pre-dawn hours in the light of a full moon. "It just sort of appeared out of the dark," said Blankenship. "We saw the lights in the distance, and when it got up close, we knew that was it." Blankenship and a handful of his staff waited until the old warrior was visible in the moonlight, then fired three salutes from a small cannon. Fort Gaines fired back at least two shots, he said. Fort workers, wearing Civil War-style overcoats, raised a large American flag on Battery Thomas, lighting it with a spotlight as the vessel passed. "There was a hush, a silence as it went by, and then there was a big boom from the three-gun salute," said Fort Morgan resident Maureen Lee, who watched with her husband, Capt. Milt Lee, as the vessel passed.
"What an adventure! What a welcome!" said Robert D. Jornlin of Earlville, Ill., the ship's captain. He told the crowd, "This couldn't be greater if we went into Normandy and won the war single-handedly."
The ship will be in Mobile for the United States LST Association's annual reunion Sept. 18-24. While in Mobile, the ship will be prepared to become a national memorial but the memorial's home has not yet been determined.
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