USS Orleck Naval Museum welcome center gets preliminary OK

Warship museum proposed for Pier 1 of Shipyard property still needs City Council approval

Rndering of USS Orleck's proposed dock and welcome center.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Downtown Development Review Board has approved plans to build a temporary welcome center and office space for USS Orleck DD-886 Naval Museum proposed for the city-owned Shipyards property, Jacksonville Daily Record reports.

The board voted 8-0 on Thursday to approve a 90-by-50-foot modular building off Pier 1 for the Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association’s warship museum. The vote came after the board added a condition that the nonprofit return to DDRB in three years to extend approval for a temporary building or submit designs for a permanent center.

The design includes a brick path from Catherine Street and a ramp leading from the building over the Downtown Northbank Riverwalk onto the ship.

Naval Ship Association plans to tow the USS Orleck from Lake Charles, Louisiana, to Jacksonville.

The Downtown Investment Authority, which approved a one-year development agreement with the Naval Ship Association in January, asked the group to create something temporary due to other developers' desires, including Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, to build at the site.

That deal and building approved by the DDRB need City Council approval before the ship can dock and construction to begin.

The DIA decision gives its staff the authority to negotiate a 10-year licensing agreement with two five-year renewal options to dock the museum warship in the St. Johns River.

After regulatory approval, the Naval Ship Association has several steps to take before it can tow the USS Orleck from Lake Charles, Louisiana, to Jacksonville.

Association Vice President Justin D. Weakland said Nov. 12 the ship, currently operating as a museum in Lake Charles, will need to be towed to shipyards in Texas for inspection, hull maintenance, basic repairs and painting.

The association expects to spend $2.65 million for operations and to move the ship.

The USS Orleck is currently docked at Lake Charles, Louisiana. (USS Orleck Naval Museum/Facebook)