Veterans set sail for Alabama

Associated Press

GIBRALTAR — All fueled up and bound for Alabama, 29 American war veterans — average age 72 — defied warnings and set off Tuesday to cross the Atlantic in an aging tank transport vessel with shaky steering and no safety equipment.

"Everything’s good. We’re all looking forward to the trip," Capt. Bob Jornlin said by phone shortly before the 58-year-old ship, known as the LST-325, departed from this British colony at Spain’s southern tip.

Despite Coast Guard warnings that the monthlong voyage is too dangerous, the veterans, who hail from 16 states, are hoping to fulfill a dream of steering the ship across the Atlantic and set up a floating museum once they reach Mobile, Ala., some 4,350 miles away on the Gulf of Mexico.

In a comradely gesture, sailors from the USS Arleigh Burke, a destroyer that docked Monday in Gibraltar, stood on deck and whistled farewell as the 328-foot-long LST-325 was tugged away from this promontory port at the western entrance to the Mediterranean Sea.

From dockside, a Gibraltar-based U.S. Liaison officer, Comm. Chris Melhuish, addressed the veterans, calling them "an inspiration to all. You bring out the traditional values of the U.S. Navy."

The vessel — an LST or landing ship, tank — was designed to land troops, tanks and other equipment directly onto a beach. It participated in the invasions of Sicily and Salerno and reached Normandy six days after D-Day in June 1944. It was decommissioned in 1946, put back into service in the Arctic in the 1950s, then lent to Greece in the 1960s. The United States LST Association has fought since the 1980s to repatriate it.

So far, the crew — made up of veterans from World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars — has sailed for 13 days from Greece to Gibraltar, where they arrived Nov. 30.

But the U.S. Coast Guard urged them not to go any farther.

The ship lacks adequate lifesaving equipment, its steering is questionable and the Atlantic is cold and stormy in December, Vice Adm. John Shkor, commander of the Coast Guard’s Atlantic Area Command, warned the crew in a letter recently. He said the ship should be towed or the trip postponed until its equipment problems and other matters have been resolved.

Another cause for concern is the health of the crew. One shipmate, identified on the ship’s Web site log as Bill Hart, became seriously ill while sailing from Greece and died after returning to the United States.

But the crew is determined and maintain that they and the LST are strong enough.

Log of the return voyage atc



Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Mel Jennings sits in his structure during a point-in-time count of people facing homelessness in Everett, Washington on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. Mel has had a brain and spinal surgery, and currently has been homeless for a year. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Annual homeless count aims to give snapshot of housing crisis

Volunteers set out into the rain Tuesday to count all the people facing homelessness in central Everett.

Catherine Berwicks loads ballots into a tray after scanning them at the Snohomish County Elections Ballot Processing Center on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020 in Everett, Wa.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Lawmakers push to boost voting in county jails across the state

A House bill envisions an approach similar to what’s been happening in the Snohomish County Jail for several years.

Vandalism at Seaview Park on Jan. 21, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Edmonds Police Department)
Police seek suspects in repeated vandalism at Edmonds parks

Vandals have done over $10,000 of damage to parks across the city, including suspected arson and graffiti with hate speech.

One worker looks up from the cargo area as another works in what will be the passenger compartment on one of the first Boeing 787 jets as it stands near completion at the front of the assembly line, Monday, May 19, 2008, in Everett, Wash. The plane, the first new Boeing jet in 14 years, is targeted for power on in June followed by an anticipated first flight sometime late in 2008.  (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Boeing workers long-exposed to carcinogen far above legal limits

The company confirmed in depositions that parts of its Everett plant still don’t meet 2010 standards.

CarlaRae Arneson, of Lynnwood, grabs a tea press full of fresh tea from Peanut the server robot while dining with her 12-year-old son Levi at Sushi Hana on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, in Lynnwood, Washington. CarlaRae said she and her son used to visit the previous restaurant at Sushi Hana’s location and were excited to try the new business’s food. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Peanut the robot waitress is on a roll at Lynnwood’s Sushi Hana

She’s less RoboCop and more Rosey as she patrols the restaurant, making sure everyone has a drink and good time.

Traffic moves along Highway 526 in front of Boeing’s Everett Production Facility on Nov. 28, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / Sound Publishing)
Boeing settles with Everett security guard claiming chemical exposure

Holly Hawthorne was assigned to Building 45-335 at the south end of Paine Field, while employees used aerosolized chemical sprays nearby.

A section of contaminated Wicks tidelands on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Port acquisition marks next step in toxic cleanup on Everett waterfront

Private owners donated land near the contaminated Wicks Tide Flats to the Port of Everett. Cleanup work could begin within the year.

FILE - In this photo taken Oct. 2, 2018, semi-automatic rifles fill a wall at a gun shop in Lynnwood, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee is joining state Attorney General Bob Ferguson to propose limits to magazine capacity and a ban on the sale of assault weapons. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Democrats advance assault weapons ban, new rules for gun buyers

The measures passed a House committee without Republican support. They are part of a broader agenda to curb gun violence.

U.S. Attorney Nick Brown and the victim of a brutal attack in 2018 answer questions from reporters on Jan. 27, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Jake Goldstein-Street / The Herald)
White supremacists sentenced for racist beating at Lynnwood bar

A federal judge handed out stiffer sentences than prosecutors had asked for in a series of sentencing hearings Friday.

Most Read