Chattanoogans have a unique opportunity to visit a piece of naval history in “Port Chattanooga,” and someone who is a foremost expert on the subject shared his knowledge with the Pachyderm Club.
Captain Mickey McCamish, a Chattanooga native who served his country for 27 years, gave the club a brief overview of the history of a landing ship tank, also called a LST.
According to Captain McCamish, the LST had a long and interesting history since their inception in the second World War.
The military needed boats that could drive up onto the beach for D-Day, and the LST was the result of that need.
Over the course of the war, 1051 were created, with LST-325 being one of them.
LST-325 participated in D-Day, and landed at Omaha beach. During that first trip, it carried 59 vehicles, 39 officer, 300 enlisted soldiers,” said Captain McCamish, “And it made almost 50 trips back.”
After being used in the Korean War and during Vietnam (where Captain McCamish served in several notable conflicts), the ship was “retired” for a while. It was then given to Greece, where it was used up until the last year of the previous millennium.
And so there it sat, falling apart halfway across the globe. Early in the 2000’s, a group of former LST sailors wished to bring one of their old ships back to America, restoring it and turning it into a museum of sorts for future generations.
“There was always a goal to bring an LST back to the United States. They finally located one after several visits to places like Taiwan,” said the speaker, “But none of them were in any sort of condition to refurbish it or bring it back to operational condition.”
After a six week project morphed into a year-long labor of love, the LST-325 was revived, and sailed from Greece back to the United States, where it has been ever since.
From August 22 to the 27th, Chattanoogans will have an opportunity to tour the massive vessel for $10 or cheaper as it sits at the Scenic City.
“This is the only fully functional LST WWII that exists today, and we have it right here in this community,” said Captain McCamish, “This ship isn’t just U.S. history, it’s world history, it’s global history. That ship gave us the freedom we enjoy here today.”
While on-board, visitors can see many different parts of the ship. The galley, main deck, and mess deck are main attractions. Visitors can also see the auxiliary engine room, where the generator now powers the air conditioning in the ship.
“We can bring our family that we can say to our family ‘This is what we served on, and these are the types of quarters you had,’” said Captain McCamish, who received a roaring applause after the presentation.