The Landing Ship Tank is an ocean going ship capable
of shore to shore delivery of tanks, amphibious assault
vehicles, and troops.
The LST program was developed in response to a need for
armored infantry divisions in invasions by sea. England's
failed invasion at Dunkirk prompted Prime Minister Winston
Churchill to request that the United States design a ship
that was large enough to traverse an ocean, but with
provisions to quickly and efficiently unload armored
vehicles and personnel on an unimproved beach. The
resulting ship design proved to be among the most successful
in the history of the Navy.
The ships were designed with an innovative ballast system
which allowed the flat-bottomed ships to sit lower in the
water during ocean transit for seaworthiness purposes, then,
by pumping the ballast tanks dry, to raise up in the water,
facilitating shallow-draft landing operations. The ballast
system was adapted from the systems used by fleet submarines.
The design for the first LST was submitted by John C. Niedermair
in November of 1941. The sketch he made became the design for
more than 1,000 L.S.T.'s. After a few alterations the final
length was 328 ft., a 50 ft. beam, and a draft of 3 ft. 9½ in.
She was able to ride higher in the water when in landing trim.
LSTs were a high priority during the war, the second-largest
shipbuilding initiative in the history of Mankind. Before
the tests were completed on the LST, construction had already
commenced. The LST was built in a variety of "Cornfield Navy"
shipyards, in rather unlikely locales: Seneca, Ill.;
Evansville and Jeffersonville, Ind.; and Pittsburgh and Ambridge,
Penn. The Navy was forced to modify bridges, through
a "Ferry Command," to bring the LSTs to the oceans. About 670
LSTs were constructed inland.
Many other LSTs were built in existing Navy yards. In fact,
the first LST actually took the berth of an already laid
aircraft carrier keel at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock
Corporation, so important was the LST construction program.
In total, eighteen shipyards produced more than a thousand LSTs in
three years, a remarkable feat by any reckoning.
At the beginning of 1943, the schedule allowed four months
from the time the keel was laid on a new LST to her final
fitting-out and commissioning; that schedule was reduced to
two months by the end of the war.
From June 1943 in the Solomons to August 1945, the LST was
a key element in WWII. They participated in Sicily, Italy,
Normandy, Southern France, the liberation of the Philippines,
and the capture of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
Out of 1,051 LST class ships built, more than a thousand survived
through the end of World War II; several WWII
LST's served through the Vietnam War era. Though slow by
today's amphibious Navy standards, the ships were well
designed for a variety of tasks besides the primary mission
of armored invasion force delivery.
Even though the crew members nicknamed their ships "Large Slow Targets," the LST endured. There were only 26 losses to
enemy actions. At the end of World War II the navy had a large
inventory of LSTs. This remarkable warship that performed
vital services in the fight for freedom now are almost extinct. Roughly half were
scrapped, 20 percent were converted for commercial use, 18 percent were
sold to foreign governments, 9 percent sunk, and a few went into private hands; their fate is unknown.
The USS LST 393 was launched in Newport News, Virginia
on November 11, 1942. Immediately after sea trials, she
went to work in the defense of her country in Europe.
Over nine thousand soldiers made their way to the front
aboard LST 393, as well as 3, 248 vehicles. She also
carried over five thousand prisoners and, during her service,
logged 51, 817 nautical miles. The LST 393 made 75 voyages
to foreign shores on three continents, including 30 round
trips to the beaches of Normandy. She won battle stars for
her service in the occupation of Sicily, the invasion of
Salerno, and the D-day invasion at Normandy and was
decommissioned in 1946.
In the ensuing years, LST 393 became a merchant ship,
carrying automobiles from Muskegon, Michigan to Milwaukee,
Wisconsin. She was renamed the M/V Highway 16 in lieu
of the now-defunct US Route 16, which ran from Detroit
to Muskegon, spanning Lake Michigan to Milwaukee where
US 16 began again. She continues to attract visitors as
a museum and memorial to the men and women of the United
States who sacrifice so much in the defense of our
country and its ideals.
Two groups have attempted to restore LST 393 to its former glory. A Muskegon museum group went to work in 2000 and made some headway, along with some help from the Michigan LST Association. But that effort ran out of steam after about two years. In 2005, a group headed by Dan Weikel and Bob Wygant asked for permission from owner Sand Products Corp. to pick up where the other group left off. Years of cleaning and painting resulted in a ship that could be toured. In 2007, extraordinary efforts led to the opening of the bow doors, which hadn't moved since they were welded shut in the late 1940s. Development of the veterans museum has continued with the addition of thousands of artifacts as well as restoration of more areas of the ship. The effort continues to this day.
LST War Diary
Found in NavyHistory.com
USS LST 393 WAR DIARY - June 1944
June 5, 1944
Moored in Falmouth Harbor, Falmouth,
England. Received signal from Flag Ship
to weigh anchor at 0810. Anchors aweigh
at 0823 and under way forming in convoy of
Task Group 126. 4 to commence operation
plan 1-44 with rhino ferry in tow.
June 7, 1944
Under way in convoy of LSTs and various
other ships enroute from Falmouth,
England to Colleville, France, carrying
army vehicles and army personnel. At 1010
let go bow anchor in 10 fathoms of water
off Fox Green Section of Omaha, Beach,
Colleville, France. Casualties brought
aboard at 1135.
June 8, 1944
Sounded G.Q. at 0115, enemy planes
overhead, we held our fire. Anchors
aweigh at 1515, underway to proceed in
closer to Beach. At 1531 let go stern
anchor in 7 fathoms of water in Baie de
la Seine off Colleville, France. Men from
LST 75 aboard for transportation at 1532.
Casualties aboard at 2025. Anchors
aweigh at 2119 to proceed to North Bound
convoy anchorage area, at 2217 formed in
convoy of LSTs bound for Portland,
June 13, 1944
Under way in convoy of LSTs, enroute
Portland, England to Colleville, France.
At 1104 anchored off Sugar Red Section,
Utah Beach, in 3 fathoms of water.
June 15, 1944
Under way in convoy to Sothampton. Moored
bow and starboard side to in Berth 6, in
outer dock, Sothampton, England.
Casualties taken off at 1137.
June 16, 1944
Under way at 0017 to form in convoy and
proceed to Beach inBaie de la Seine,
Colleville, France. Anchored at 1352 in 8
fathoms of water. Under way at 1523 to
proceed closer to beach. Anchored at 1530
off Omaha, Fox Red Beach, in Colleville,
France. Under way at 1738 passing through
breakwaer standing out of landing harbor,
Omaha Beach, Colleville, France.
June 17, 1944
Beached off Dog White, Omaha Area,
Vierville, France. At 0003 sounded G.Q.
after receiving red alert. No action
secured from G.Q. at 0028. Commenced
unloading of vehicles, and army personnel
at 0345. Completed at 0400. Received
orders from HMS Ceres to proceed to
Portland, England, with LCT 210 in tow.
Under way at 1200. At 1312 temporary
bulkhead on LCT 210 gave way. LCT was
ordered to return to beach. Under way
again at 1345 to join convoy ten miles
June 18, 1944
Underway in convoy of the following LSTs
355(F-S), 400, 523, 27, 393, 288, and
532, enroute Portland, South England, to
Omaha and Utah Invasion Beaches, Baie de
la Seine, France, course 079 degrees,
speed 6 knots. Beached at 1231 on
"S" Red Section of Utah Beach.
1438 commenced unloading vehicles and
personnel on to beach. Commenced taking
on casualties and survivors from beach at
1515, completed operation of unloading
ship at 1635.
June 20, 1944
Underway at 0745 to proceed to HMS Ceres
for further instructions. Came to anchor
off Omaha Beach south east of Kansas
Light Ship in Baie de la Seine, France at
0910 underway maneuvering around due to
storm at 0937. Underway to proceed to
form convoy headed for Sothamption, we
acting as commodore of convoy, speed 4,
course 025 degrees true.
June 21, 1944
Pilot aboard at 0014. Moored bow and
starboard side to Hard "S-3" in
Southampton Harbor, Southampton, England.
At 0955. Bow doors open and commenced
unloading of casualties, completed
operation of unloading casualties and
commenced loading ship with British Army
vehicles and personnel. Completed loading
operation after taking on 417 men and 12
officers, Bristish personnel, and 68 vehicles of various types.