The USS LST 393 was launched in Newport News, Virginia on November 11, 1942. Immediately after sea trials, she went to work in the defense of her country in Europe. Over nine thousand soldiers made their way to the front aboard LST 393, as well as 3,248 vehicles. She also carried over five thousand prisoners and, during her service, logged 51,817 nautical miles. The LST 393 made 75 voyages to foreign shores on three continents, including 30 round trips to the beaches of Normandy. She won battle stars for her service in the occupation of Sicily, the invasion of Salerno, and the D-day invasion at Normandy and was decommissioned in 1946.
In the ensuing years, LST 393 became a merchant ship, carrying automobiles from Muskegon, Michigan to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was renamed the M/V Highway 16 in lieu of the now-defunct US Route 16, which ran from Detroit to Muskegon, spanning Lake Michigan to Milwaukee where US 16 began again. She continues to attract visitors as a museum and memorial to the men and women of the United States who sacrifice so much in the defense of our country and its ideals.
Two groups have attempted to restore LST 393 to its former glory. A Muskegon museum group went to work in 2000 and made some headway, along with some help from the Michigan LST Association. But that effort ran out of steam after about two years.
In 2005, a group headed by Dan Weikel and Bob Wygant asked for permission from owner Sand Products Corp. to pick up where the other group left off. Years of cleaning and painting resulted in a ship that could be toured. In 2007, extraordinary efforts led to the opening of the bow doors, which hadn't moved since they were welded shut in the late 1940s.
Development of the veterans museum has continued with the addition of thousands of artifacts as well as restoration of more areas of the ship. The effort continues to this day.