LST to dock in Henry, then Peoria for public tours
A piece of United States history, a restored World War II vessel that was part of the largest fleet in history by participating in the D-Day invasion at Omaha Beach, will be docked and open for tours in two Peoria area cities, beginning this Labor Day weekend.
The LST-325, or landing ship tank, will be moored Friday through Sept. 6 in Henry just south of the Illinois River bridge on Illinois Route 18. The 328-foot-long vessel will then depart for Peoria’s riverfront, docking Sept. 8-12 next to the RiverPlex Recreation and Wellness Center.
The ship will be open for public viewing and tours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Cost is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 5-18 and free for children 4 and under. A $20 family ticket pass is also available.
The LST is an amphibious vessel designed to land battle-ready tanks, troops and supplies directly onto enemy shores. This particular vessel was originally known as the LST-325 during World War II. Its name changed to USNS LST-325 during its arctic operations in the 1950s and again later to L-144 while it was in service of the Greek Navy. The ship was acquired by the USS LST Ship Memorial in 2000 and is now docked much of the year at a site in Evansville, Ind., the housing ground of the vessel.
“We take the ship to various cities so people can tour a World War II ship and witness a piece of history first hand,” said the vessel’s captain, Bob Jornlin. “This is the only operational LST in the U.S. All the crew is volunteer and the proceeds from anything we make go toward maintaining and refurbishing the ship and to keep it operational.”
In honor of the 10-year anniversary of September 11, the LST crew will observe a moment of silence at the time the planes struck the towers of the World Trade Center. During the ship’s five-day stay in Peoria, military vehicles will be on display next to the riverfront for visitors to view while waiting in line to board the ship.
For more information about the ship, go to lstmemorial.org.