Low levels in Mississippi River expose sunken World War II ship

ST. LOUIS — Low water levels on the Mississippi River have exposed a World War II ship that sank near downtown St. Louis 28 years ago.

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The USS Inaugural was once moored near the Gateway Arch, but broke from its moorings when the Mississippi River crested at 49.58 feet on Aug. 1, 1993, KTVI reported. The ship drifted downstream before eventually turning on its side and sinking south of the Poplar Street Bridge, the television station reported.

The ship was spotted Tuesday when the river’s water level was at 3.85 feet, according to KTVI.

The USS Inaugural, a fleet minesweeper, was launched on Oct. 1, 1944, and commissioned on Dec. 30, 1944, according to the National Parks Service. It was built by the Winslow Marine Railway and Shipbuilding Corporation of Winslow, Washington.

The ship participated in the invasion of Okinawa. After World War II, the ship conducted minesweeping operations in the waters around Japan and Korea, according to the National Parks Service. The ship cleared 82 mines and was awarded two battle stars for service during World War II.

The ship was decommissioned in 1946 and was relocated to St. Louis in 1968 to serve as a floating museum, according to the NPS. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark on Jan. 14, 1986, but lost its designation in August 2001.

In 2012 and 2015, the Mississippi River was low enough to expose the USS Inaugural, KTVI reported.