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PHOTOS: Giant naval ship to cruise into Jacksonville on Saturday morning

The USS Orleck is scheduled to arrive on Jacksonville’s Northbank on Saturday.

The Gearing Class Destroyer is set to arrive at the entrance of the St. Johns River channel around 7 a.m.

The trip downtown will take another four to six hours, putting the ship at the Jacksonville Riverwalk sometime between 11:30 in the morning and 2:30 in the afternoon. 

The president of the Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association, Dan Bean, says the Orleck is a mark of Jacksonville’s significance to the U.S. Navy.

"Jacksonville is Florida's number one Navy town. And when you drive across that Main Street Bridge tomorrow afternoon, you're going to know why," Bean said Friday.

NAS Jax is the third-largest naval base in the country. 

Smith Maritime of Green Cove Springs sent its tugboat, Elsbeth 3, to tow the vessel from Port Arthur, Texas, to the First Coast.

The destroyer will become the Jacksonville Naval Museum, and plans are to open it to the public in June as part of the city’s bicentennial celebration.

The ship will eventually park in the Jacksonville Shipyards project in downtown.

Claire joined WJCT as a reporter in August 2021. She was previously the local host of NPR's Morning Edition at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her time in East Tennessee, her coverage of the COVID pandemic earned a Public Media Journalists’ Association award for investigative reporting. You can reach Claire at (904) 250-0926 or on Twitter @ClaireHeddles.