A recent video by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette chronicles the fate of LST 750, one of the many ships constructed in Pittsburgh by the Dravo Corporation during World War II. The video incorporates a number of images from the Dravo Corporation photographs, one of the collections held by the Heinz History Center’s Detre Library and Archives. Along with images of LST 750, the collection also contains photographs of many of the other LSTs produced by the company.
LSTs (an abbreviation for Landing Ship, Tank) were used to transport soldiers, trucks, and tanks directly onto beaches. They played key roles in the Allied invasions of Normandy, Italy, and the Pacific Islands. After being launched from Neville Island, the ships traveled down the Mississippi River (via the Ohio River) to the Gulf of Mexico, where they would set course to join Allied forces in Europe, North Africa and the Pacific. In all, Dravo contributed more than 670 LSTs for the war effort. By using cutting-edge production techniques, the company could create a finished LST in just three days.
The Dravo Corporation photographs contain scores of images of the launching ceremonies for the LSTs. In the image below, a marching band in Dravo uniforms can be seen participating in the ceremony prior to the launch of LST 48.
Many of the images also document the christenings of the ships with champagne, with the photographer skillfully timing the shot to capture the point of impact:
There is very little contextual information accompanying the images in the collection, other than the name of the boat, which is usually written on the back of the photograph. Fortunately, there are online resources (for example, the U.S. Navy’s Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships) that provide additional information for many specific LSTs, including details of their construction, battles in which they took part, and their final disposition.
Read more about the Dravo Corporation and LSTs.