Historic WWII-era Landing Ship Tank Docking at Heinz Field
28 August 2015
By Rex Rutkoski
One of the “Ships That Won World War II” will sail into Pittsburgh
on Sept. 1, celebrating its historic connection to the region with
public tours from Sept. 2 to 8 while docked outside Heinz Field on
the North Shore.
The LST 325 is a memorial and a history lesson, says Dan Cinowalt,
a resident of the Bon Air neighborhood of Pittsburgh and Vietnam
Marine veteran. He is a member of the all-volunteer crew of the
Landing Ship Tank, part of the fleet that was in the invasion of
Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
“This particular ship made 42 trips in support of that invasion,
and also was used in Sicily in July 1943, and later served in the
Cold War on duty in the Arctic,” says the retired steamfitter who
now uses his skills to keep the ship sailing.
The LST 325 is the only Landing Ship Tank in the country that is
fully operational and being restored to its original condition.
All of her original equipment is still onboard and working,
including the anti-aircraft guns.
The visit honors the fact that of the 1,000-plus LSTs, many,
including the first, were built in Pittsburgh by the Dravo Corp.
on Neville Island and American Bridge Co. in Ambridge — Dravo
built 146 ships; American Bridge built 123. It also reminds people
“of the important role these ships played in the winning of the
war,” Cinowalt says. He had some training with them off the coast
of North Carolina.
Part of the Pittsburgh story, including that of the “Rosie the
Riveters” who helped build the LSTs, is told in the current “We
Can Do It!” World War II exhibit at the Senator John Heinz History
Center, Strip District. That exhibit examines how our city
affected the war, and how the war affected the region.
The LSTs were the largest vessels the Navy had capable of beaching
to unload its cargo and then retract from the shore. They also
were used in the Korean and Vietnam wars. They were built to land
tanks directly onto an enemy-held beach to support the infantry
and quickly became the workhorse of the fleet.
“They could hold 20 Sherman tanks,” says Cinowalt, who was raised
on Mt. Washington. They also could carry 30 to 40 trucks, tons of
fuel, ammunition, supplies and soldiers. LSTs also served as
hospital ships in ferrying wounded soldiers back to England.
On one of her trips, the LST 325 rescued 600 soldiers out of the
North Sea, after the Austrian troop ship, the Javelin, was
torpedoed and sunk.
The LST 325 (each vessel was numbered) is a tribute and memorial
to those who served aboard all LSTs, and the men and women who
built them, says Ken Frank of New Jersey, a Navy veteran and
president of the not-for-profit USS LST Ship Memorial.
His sailor father, Edward Frank, told him of taking a train to
Pittsburgh with a skeleton crew “and picking up a brand-new LST in
July 1943 and sailing it down the Mississippi and eventually to
“They were turning ships out one a week or so by then at Neville
Island,” he says. “Dravo launched seven LSTs from May 1 to June
His father made many trips resupplying Anzio Beach and was
involved in the invasion of southern France. “He always talked
about how rough they rode in the water because of the flat bottom,
but, on the bright side, they felt that bottom made it safer from
a submarine torpedo,” Ken Frank says.
The Allies never lost an invasion once the LSTs arrived, says John
Hatton of Cincinnati, chief engineer on the 325 and a member of
the board of directors of the USS LST Memorial. Hatton educates
and trains crews on the operation and maintenance of the ship. The
Allies, unlike the enemy, could move men and equipment where
needed in the amounts that were required, he says.
“The Germans could see England but couldn't move their men or
supplies in sufficient numbers to invade,” Hatton says.
The ability to conceive an LST and go from an idea on paper to a
ship in the water in less than a year is a tribute to American
ingenuity and industry, he says.
“Five years ago, when we were (first) in Pittsburgh, we were
fortunate to meet with a couple of ladies who had actually been
welders in the Pittsburgh-area shipyards and who had worked
building LSTs as teenagers,” Hatton says. “We also met people
whose parents had worked on them. And there were the people who,
as kids, watched the completed ships sail down the river. There is
just a lot of connection between the LST and the Pittsburgh area.”
Ken Frank is confident that all ages will enjoy visiting the ship.
“It looks like it did during WWII. You will understand better what
the ‘greatest generation' accomplished and how they accomplished
it in winning WWII.
“All veterans seem to have a special emotional reaction when they
come aboard. You will be a part of living history. The LSTs made a
unique contribution to American military history,” Frank says.
Rex Rutkoski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be
reached at 724-226-4664 or email@example.com.
If you go
Self-guided tours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 2-8. Allow about an
hour, but stay as long as you want. Wait times are usually shorter
in the mornings.
Admission: $10, $5 for ages 5-18, free for age 4 and under, $20
per family (parents and children younger than 18)
Where: Docked outside Heinz Field, North Shore
Details: 812-435-8678 or lstmemorial.org
LST 325 facts
328 feet long
50 feet wide
1.4 Construction cost (in millions of dollars)
12 Top speed (in miles per hour)
• Amount of water needed to float it: 4 feet forward, 9 feet aft
• Size of crew during wartime: 100 enlisted and 10 officers
• Served the United States through the early 1950s. Reactivated in
1963 and transferred to Greece, serving the Greek Navy from
1964-99, when it was again decommissioned.
• Saved from a Greek scrapyard in 2000 when it was acquired by the
USS LST 325 Ship Memorial, Inc. through an act of Congress
Source: USS LST Ship Memorial
See the ship's arrival
Anticipated arrival: 1 p.m. Sept. 1 (subject to weather, locks and
river traffic, making the time approximate). Follow the ship's
location on the Ohio River to Pittsburgh from Evansville, Ind., at
Beaver County Celebration
The public and veterans are invited to join local residents
between 8 and 11 a.m. Sept. 1 on the Ambridge-Aliquippa Bridge to
salute the World War II D-Day vessel LST 325 as it passes by.
The Laughlin Memorial Library, 99 11th St., Ambridge, will hold a
reception starting at 7:30 a.m. An assortment of LST photos from
the American Bridge Co., where many of the ships were built, will
be on display. Author and historian Gary Augustine will give a
presentation at 11 a.m. at the library on, “The Indispensable
Ship: The Story of the Landing Ship Tank (LST) during WWII.”
A buffet lunch will be served at the 11 a.m. program. Those
interested are asked to make a reservation at 724-266-3857 or http://Beaverlibraries.org/ambridge
Read more: http://triblive.com/lifestyles/history/8917640-74/lst-ship-325#ixzz3kBamzzOA