Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Searching For the Time, Searching for The Chance to see a Historic Ship

I was sitting at my desk. On the main computer monitor: a combination of Lightroom, Bridge and Photoshop displaying photos in various stages of editing. On the secondary monitor: a browser window, providing real time GPS tracking of the USS LST-325 as it steamed towards Cincinnati. All around me half of my possessions were in organized piles on the floor, the others tucked away in boxes. 

- The USS LST-325 passing near Dayton, KY.

I had a deadline to meet, I was busy. I needed to get the editing work done, but wanted to catch the historic ship on its way into the city - I’d be too busy to take a tour during its limited time here, but maybe I could get a few photos for a quick update, yet another one to add to the backlog of content I still hadn't gotten around to. I was exhausted, nearly falling asleep in my chair while my eyes glazed over at the Adobe software loading screens. I glanced at the live map on monitor two: “damnit!” The ship was close, real close. Suddenly I was awake, grabbing the camera bag and jumping in the car. I snaked down back roads of Fort Thomas to the river. I drove on Route 8, traveling parallel to the massive ship that had once been entrenched on the shores of Omaha Beach during World War 2. I made it to Dayton, parked on the street and ran up on the levee with more energy than I had that whole week. I was determined to get these shots, even if I had no idea when or if I’d ever get around to posting them.

In years past, I worked at an amusement park, it was the kind of job that I was more than happy to surrender all my time to. I loved it, and in doing so, gave it most of my attention. Other priorities would lag, one of them being this website. Come Fall, I’d post a half hearted explanation for why I hadn't updated in months and then spend the winter dishing out backlogged content and creating new work. This time though, things are different.

I haven't worked at the park for a few years. My excuse now isn't that I've been away serving in the ranks of seasonal theme park management. The past two months: I was working 40+ hours a week at my day job, freelancing photo work when I could, apartment hunting and I wrote a book. A book that will be formally announced tomorrow on November 5th.

Once the USS LST-325 passed beyond my sight and up to the nearby city, I sat down on a bench, still exhausted. I’d eventually get to see the boat up close one evening, passing by on my way home from work, too late to take the tour. After a few days in Cincinnati, she sailed home. I moved back to Ohio and life calmed down. These photos of the USS LST, they’re one of many stories that were sitting on the queue for QC/D. There’s more abandoned places, more Suburbia Lost updates, local stories and yes, even more tales from the Waffle House to come. And that yellow bar at the top of the page - the one talking about broken images: well, about half of the old articles are fixed. Now you can read classic updates with photographs again. Like the one about Lesourdsville Lake, the Cincinnati Subway, or the Hudepohl Brewery.

For today though, here’s some history and photographs of the USS LST-325. And as for that book I’ve been working on... make sure you read up tomorrow.

The “Landing Ship, Tank,” was a collaborative design born out of American and British engineering, two nations who realized eventually they were going to invade occupied France across the channel. USS LST-325 in particular was launched in 1942 out of the Philadelphia shipyards. The ship and its counterparts were designed to support amphibious landings by bringing troops, tanks and other equipment directly from ship to shore. LST-325 supported the American landings at Gela, Sicily and Salerno, Italy before participating in the legendary D-Day landings at Omaha Beach. Following the successful beachhead assault, LST-325 continued crossing the channel to deliver more men and supplies until 1945.

Following the war, the ship spent most of its time in the Navy’s various reserve fleets before finding herself in the service of Greece. After thirty-five years in the Hellenic Navy, the ship was acquired by The USS LST Memorial, Inc. The group returned her to the United States, restored her and maintains a homeport in Evansville, Indiana - a city that once cranked out hundreds of these vessels for the war effort.

The story of the ship and the effort to save and restore her is fascinating. For a more detailed read, check out LST’s homepage here. Occasionally, the ship embarks on tours and in the summer of 2015, found itself at the Cincinnati public landing:

- USS LST-325 passing near Dayton, KY.

- USS LST-325 passing near Dayton, KY.

- USS LST-325 docked at the Cincinnati Public Landing.