Restored World War II destroyer could open as floating naval museum downtown

Proposed project passed a major hurdle Wednesday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The USS Orleck, a restored World War II destroyer, could open in April as a floating naval museum in downtown Jacksonville.

The proposed project passed a major hurdle Wednesday when it got unanimous approval from the Downtown Development Authority to berth near the old Shipyards site on the Northbank. Now it’s up to the Jacksonville City Council to say yes.

It has been the dream of the Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association for years to open a floating museum along the St. Johns River. That dream faded somewhat a little more than a year ago when the Navy hedged on a deal to allow the USS Adams to call Jacksonville home. Since then, another opportunity floated in -- the USS Orleck, which is already a floating museum in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where it is set to close.

“She is open for business right now in Lake Charles,” Daniel Bean, president of Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association, said Wednesday. “There would be no change in the operation and she would be towed here and we would want to take visitors the first day.”

There are some hurdles, such as a dry dock inspection to make sure the ship is sound and could survive the tow to Jacksonville.

News4Jax asked Bean why Lake Charles would give it up.

“The individual that purchased the pier side wanted to use it for a different development where she’s located in Lake Charles,” Bean said.

Bean and his group say the loss is Jacksonville’s gain. They had raised funds in the past to bring in the USS Adams, and now they are just shifting the focus. It appears getting the $2.8 million in private donations is not going to be a problem, as much of the donations for the USS Adams are still available.

The mayor’s office told News4Jax that it is supportive of the idea.

The City Council is expected to give a thumbs-up to the proposed floating museum that would tie in with any development planned for the downtown area.

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