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Cargo of the Landing Ship Tank (LST)

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LST Tank Deck and Weather Deck

Landing ship tank loaded with trucks and other vehicles

LST-325 loaded with trucks and other vehicles on the weather deck, near Gela, Sicily, on July 11, 1943. LST 325 would later carry cargo to Normandy, where she made more than forty trips across the English Channel. The USS Boise (CL-47) is in the background. Army Signal Corps photo.

The LST could carry cargo on both the tank deck and weather deck. With its special "tank" deck, it had the ability to carry any of the following: 20 Sherman tanks, 39 light Stuart tanks, or 22 DUKWs. In the Pacific they used the amtrac for amphibious invasions, to carry the Marines to the shore and in many instances, Army troops as well. The LSTs could only fit 17 amtracs on the tank deck because these were larger than other tanks. On the weather deck, lighter vehicles such as trucks and trailers could be carried. Smaller landing craft such as LCMs (filled with still smaller boats), could also be transported by the LSTs. On average, a Landing Ship Tank headed towards the beach with about seventy vehicles on board along with their crews.

The other possible mode of oceanic transport for these smaller landing craft was in crates (disassembled), and carried on liberty ships. When they reached England, the landing craft would be reassembled and could cross the English Channel on their own.

LST with and LCT as cargo

An LST with an LCT as cargo on the weather deck.

Although known for its "tank" deck, it is interesting to note that there were other cargoes besides vehicles that were carried in Landing Ship tanks. According to David Bronson in Mosier's Raiders, on the trip to North Africa, LST 325's tank deck was packed with P-40 fighter planes inside wooden crates, to be assembled when their destination was reached, and then flown into combat. On the same voyage, the weather deck carried a Landing Craft Tank (LCT) which was approximately 158 feet long, nearly half the length of the LST. The LST was also used to transport wounded, as well as prisoners of war.

Landing the LST on the Beach


The cargo was unloaded on or near the beach and LST ballast tanks were used when it was time to make a landing on the shore. During the sea voyage these tanks were filled with sea water to make the ship sit lower, to somewhat decrease its roll on the waves. The tanks were now pumped out to get the ship as shallow as possible, for the run up onto the beach. And once on the beach, sea water from the back of the ship was pumped to the forward ballast tanks to weight down the front end of the LST so it wouldn't get pushed away by the surf.

At the same time as they were approaching the beach, the kedging anchor was dropped off the back end of the ship in an effort to keep the ship aligned as the surf pushed against it. Without the kedging anchor, the surf could turn the LST sideways (called breaching). The entire process would be reversed when leaving the beach, and additionally using the pull of the wench against the kedging anchor, along with reversed propellers, to help move the LST off the beach.

Bronson, David. Mosier's Raiders. New York : iUniverse, Inc. 2004.
Rottman, Gordon, Bryan. Landing Ship, Tank (LST) 1942-2002. Oxford : Osprey Publication, 2005.

Also see Museum LST on our website

LST 325 in Evansville, Indiana