MOBILE, Ala. -- The crew of a massive military transport ship, the LST-325, hopes to sail the spruced-up World War II vessel around the tip of Florida and reach Boston by June 6 for the city's 60th anniversary of D-Day.
The LST-325, saved from a salvage yard in Greece three years ago by some its original wartime crew members, will take its place in Boston alongside the USS Constitution for the festivities.
Commissioned in 1943, the LST-325 -- which is shorthand for "landing ship, tank" -- took part in the invasion at Normandy. The ship can pull into shallow water to deposit tanks, trucks, and other equipment directly onto dry land.
Now in dry dock at Bender Shipbuilding & Repair Co. Inc., the ship will leave Mobile on May 24 for its trip, said Robert D. Jornlin, the captain. The trip, including the voyage to Boston, its stay there, and return to Mobile, will last 46 days.
"We have crew of 40 lined up, including Coast Guard licensed merchant marine officers," Jornlin said.
Jornlin said that about half of the crew will be World War II veterans and the other half will be veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars. He said about 10 members of the crew of 28 that brought the ship across the Atlantic to Mobile will be making the Boston trip.
"We've been asked to escort the USS Constitution -- the oldest commissioned ship in the US Navy -- in Boston Harbor," on June 6, he said.
The LST will make the 4,200-mile round trip under its own power, marking the first time the ship will have traveled under its own steam since its engines stopped running shortly after it arrived in Mobile on Jan. 10, 2001, Jornlin said. Those engines had propelled the vessel during its midwinter Atlantic crossing from Gibraltar.
On that historic voyage, the ship's crew of 28 veterans, with an average age of 72, sailed it across the Atlantic despite concerns by a Coast Guard admiral about its deteriorated condition and the ocean's foul winter weather. The ship was brought to Mobile to become a traveling museum.
The United States gave the LST-325 to Greece in 1964 and it was used by the Greek Navy for 35 years before being decommissioned. Greece later turned the ship over to the USS LST Ship Memorial organization for use as a museum.