The historic USS Orleck, a highly decorated Navy vessel that is planned to serve as the future Jacksonville Naval Museum, could arrive in the River City by late November or early December, if everything goes to plan.
The Orleck is scheduled to dry dock at Port Arthur, Texas, in early November. While there, the ship’s hull will be inspected to make sure it’s capable of making the trek to Florida, where it will serve as a museum. The Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association (JHNSA), the non-profit that owns the Jacksonville Naval Museum (JNM), expects the inspection to be completed by Nov. 3 or 4.
If restoration costs exceed what JHNSA is able to pay, the ship will likely either be scrapped or turned into an artificial reef. If the Orleck is deemed fit to use as a museum, the ship will be repaired and repainted. The dry docking is expected to take three to six weeks, depending on how much work is needed.
After dry docking, the Orleck will embark on a 10-day tow from Texas to Florida. Upon arrival in Jacksonville, the ship will dock next to the Berkman Marina along East Bay Street in the old Shipyards area of the Sports and Entertainment District Downtown.
Once it’s moored, the JHNSA will prepare the ship for opening as the Jacksonville Naval Museum. This work is expected to take two to four weeks.
A separate building with ticketing, a gift shop and restrooms will be put on hold, as requested by the Downtown Investment Authority (DIA), which has asked JHNSA to wait until plans are worked out for the Shipyards area.
The Orleck is a World War II era Gearing Class destroyer that served in the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Cold War periods. It is the most decorated post-World War II ship ever built with 18 battle stars, according to the association. Following its U.S. Naval service, the Orleck was transferred to the Turkish Navy and renamed the Yüctepe. The ship served under Turkish command until she was transferred back to the U.S. in August of 2000.