Class: Large Tug
Type: Ocean-going Tug, later used as a Harbor Tug
Launched: November 22, 1943
At: Jakobson Shipyard, Oyster Bay Long Island, New York
Commissioned: Major Elisha K. Henson
Length: 115 feet
Beam: 28 feet
Draft: 14 feet
Displacement: 305 long tons
Armament: Two 50-caliber machine guns
H. Lee White Maritime Museum
P.O. Box 101
West First Street Pier
Oswego, New York 13126
Fax: (315) 343-5778
Latitude: 43.4643507592, Longitude: -76.5161110558
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The standard design for a 114′ LT was prepared by New York naval architectural firm Cox and Stevens in 1943. One of the first tugs built to the new standard was the LTs 1 through 5, ordered from the Jacobson Shipyard at Oyster Bay on Long Island, New York. The LTs were quickly built and prepared for service. LT-5, Jacobson’s Hull no. 298, christened Major Elisha K. Henson, was launched on November 22, 1943.
LT-5 is diesel powered with an engine manufactured by the Enterprise Engineering Co. of San Francisco, CA. The Enterprise DMQ-38 engine is rated at 1200 horsepower at 275 revolutions per minute, drives a single three-blade, 8.4′ diameter screw propeller with a 4.5′ pitch. The engine has 16″ cylinders and a 20″ stroke. A large towing winch gear motor, manufactured by the Electro-Dynamic Works of the Electric Boat Co. and the Berson Co. of Superior, Wisconsin, below deck feeds to the fantail for towing.
LT-5 sailed for Great Britain on February 3, 1944, towing two barges carrying eight rail cars to Southampton, England as part of the Allied buildup in preparation for Operation Overlord – the meticulously planned invasion of occupied Europe. Faced with one of the greatest challenges in the history of modern warfare, tugboats, like the LT-5, made possible the critical aspects of the invasion from the standpoint of logistical feasibility.
On June 6, 1944, LT-5 left Exmouth, England as part of a fleet of tugs, barges, merchant ships and concrete caissons with the mission of establishing artificial harbors to ensure the steady supply of men and materials needed for the continued assault on German forces. Delayed by heavy winds, LT-5 arrived off the coast of Normandy in the early morning hours of June 7th. After waiting for instructions, LT-5 moored her barges to a sunken LST and began the logistical tasks for which it was assigned. Tugboats were not spared from enemy attack, and as recorded by her logbook entry for June 9th, – “Planes Overhead. Everyone shooting at them. Starboard gunner got an F.W.” – A German Luftwaffe fighter plane known as Focke Wulf. For the remainder of the month, LT-5 towed barges and landing craft to the artificial harbor code-named “Mulberry A” off Omaha Beach. “Mulberry A” – the American harbor – was completed on June 14th (D-Day +8), and in just four days had landed 11,000 troops, 2,000 vehicles, and 9,000 tons of equipment and supplies.
After remaining in service throughout the war in Great Britain, LT-5 returned to the United States and was assigned to the Buffalo, NY District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in May 1946. At that time, LT-5 was renamed John F. Nash. LT-5 served from 1946-89 in the lower Great Lakes region assisting in the maintenance of harbors and worked on construction projects including the St. Lawrence Seaway in the 1950s. When deemed excess by the USACE in 1989, the Port of Oswego Authority eagerly acquired the National Historic Landmark that is now maintained and operated by the H. Lee White Maritime Museum.