MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Camp Lejeune is home to many historical Marine Corps monuments and the base itself is a part of history but there is a piece of Naval history floating at one of its many bays.
Anchored at Mile Hammocks Bay is one of the last remaining Landing Ship Mediums in the world. The LSM-45 was donated to the former Marine Corps Museum of the Carolinas now the Museum of the Marine by the USS Landing Ship Medium/ Landing Ship Medium Rocket Association.
“This is the only LSM left in the United States,” said Joe Houle, Marine Corps Museum of the Carolinas sergeant major and retired sergeant major.
The USS LSM-45 was born into the small but proud amphibious family of landing ships on July 31, 1944 at the Brown Shipbuilding company, Houston.
The LSM was developed to replace the landing ship tank, which could not be counted upon to get tanks, trucks and supplies onto hostile beaches. The LSM was developed to draw less water, have more horsepower and be more seaworthy than other landing ships. It was also capable of beaching itself for amphibious assaults.
Approximately 500 of these ships were built for action during World War II for use in the Pacific theater, and were used to carry tanks and supplies over the coral reefs and shallow waters.
The USS LSM-45 transited the Panama Canal in September 1944, and served in the Pacific theater for the duration of World War II. She transported Army personnel, mechanized landing crafts, landing craft vehicle personals and vehicles between Guam, various ports in the Philippines, and the South Pacific islands of Eniwetok, Saipan, Ulithi and Palau. The ship continued its service in the pacific until 1946 when it was transferred to the Atlantic Fleet. The ship was transferred to the Greek Navy where it took on the name Ipopliarkhos Grigoropoulos on Nov. 3, 1958. The ship returned back to the United States October 19, 1998 where she reverted to her maiden name and retired to her home on the Missouri River at Omaha, Nebraska.
The museum currently coordinates visits to the ship for former sailors, who used to serve as one of the 25 crewman on the class of landing ships, said Houle.
The museum has received concept approval to build their facility within the Lejeune Memorial Gardens. This will mean the vessel cannot be displayed in its entirety at the site, but the museum has begun evaluating options for the future of the LSM-45, according to Jim Williams, the executive director of the museum.