Photo: archive photo
Upon consideration of waterfronts significant to the outcome of World War II, the coast of Normandy might seem more relevant than the southern Indiana shores of the Ohio River. Yet the second locale played its own part, and in a way that relates it to the first.
During the Second World War, residents of Evansville contributed to the war effort building P-47 fighter planes and producing billions of bullets.
In 1942, the construction of a shipyard on the Ohio riverfront heightened Evansville’s stature as a manufacturer of military equipment. The facility became the nation’s largest inland producer of Landing Ship Tanks.
LSTs—alternately dubbed “Large Slow Targets”–were ships that could land on shore to transport up to 300 soldiers, 20 Sherman tanks, and other vital military equipment. With 19,200 employees at its peak, the facility was able to crank out two of the massive vessels every week. In three years of operation, the Evansville Shipyard built 24 ships, 167 LSTs, and 35 other war crafts.
Awarded the Army-Navy “E” flag and two white stars, the facility sent out its last ship on December 12, 1945, and was gutted by fire in 1947.
These days, the LST-325 docked on the Evansville shoreline marks the shipyard’s former site. The decommissioned ship participated in the invasion of Normandy–the largest armada in history.