Saturday, April 02, 2005


World War II warship closer to docking in Evansville


March 31, 2005

LST-325 stranded at low tide 12 June 1944, while delivering material
to the Normandy beachhead.

EVANSVILLE, IND. -- The LST-325, a World War II ship, is closer to being permanently placed along the Ohio River after the Vanderburgh County Council approved $1.2 million to build the dock.

The Wednesday action means that $1.8 million is in place for the dock, which city officials want to have ready by the July deadline set by the LST 325's ownership corporation.

"We're very excited about the council's action ... we have all the pieces in place," Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel said after the 5-1 vote.

A group of veterans sailed the LST-325 across the Atlantic Ocean in 2000. A total of 167 LSTs, which carried troops, vehicles and other equipment directly to shore, were made in an Evansville shipyard during World War II.

But this LST-325 was built in Philadelphia and launched in 1942. The Navy transferred the ship to Greece in 1964, and it was retired from its fleet in 1999.

The funding for the dock will come from a tourism capital projects account, which is supplied by Vanderburgh County's tax on hotel and motel rooms, officials said.

In its effort to become the warship's home, the city also agreed to build a 1,500 square-foot tourist center that will house souvenirs and pay an estimated $20,000 a year in utility costs, officials said.

The city is negotiating a 10-year lease with two additional 10-year options to dock the ship at Marina Pointe, run by Inland Marina, officials said. The Army Corps of Engineers told the County Council that Marina Pointe the only safe and viable site for the dock.

An appraiser is evaluating the property's market value, which will be used to solidify terms of Inland Marina's lease with the city.

County Councilwoman Marsha Abell, who cast the lone vote against the $1.2 million commitment, said she thought the council needed more information about the lease and the property's appraisal, which is expected to take three weeks.

The ship drew more than 30,000 visitors during a 12-day stop in Evansville last year as it made a trip along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. That tour, which also stopped in Jeffersonville, showed the public's interest in the ship, Weinzapfel said then.

Evansville beat out eight other cities to receive the ship that played a role in the 1944 D-Day invasion.

Check the LST-325 story and photos here.


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