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USS Orleck Naval Museum could arrive in Jacksonville by November

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The USS Orleck as a museum ship

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association is moving forward with its plan to bring the Orleck Museum to Jacksonville -- creating what will become the Jacksonville Naval Museum.

The Orleck museum ship will be dry-docked at Port Arthur, Texas, where its hull will be inspected to make sure it can make the trip to Florida and continue to serve as a museum ship. According to a news release, the drydocking of the ship is planned for Nov. 1.

Inspection of the ship is expected to be completed by Nov. 3 or 4. If found fit for use as a museum ship, it will then embark on a 10-day tow from Texas to Florida.

The ship will then be moored stern in, starboard side to “Pier 1,″ which is adjacent to the Berkman Marina along East Bay Street in the old Shipyards area in Downtown Jacksonville. The exact date of arrival still remains unclear.

Preparation work of the museum once it’s docked at the pier is expected to take two to four weeks, but it could be extended.

According to the news release, the Jacksonville Naval Museum will feature the “US Navy Cold War Experience,” which is represented by the ex-USS Orleck.

The Orleck, a WWII era Gearing Class destroyer, was heavily modified under the Fleet Rehabilitation and Maintenance program in the early 1960′s. The Orleck embodies the Korean War, Vietnam War and Cold War periods in U.S. Navy history having served in all three.

The Orleck is the most decorated post-World War II ship ever built and was awarded 18 battle stars. After the Orleck’s US Naval service, she was transferred to the Turkish Navy and renamed the Yüctepe. It was transferred back to the U.S. in August 2000 to become a museum ship.

The museum will serve as a gathering place for Naval associations, crew reunions and military conventions. It will support veterans as a local resource and networking center.

The Historic Naval Ship Association said in its news release:

“We named it the ‘Jacksonville’ Naval Museum because it really is about our community coming together to celebrate our rich military history, inspire patriotism, and honor our veterans and active-duty service members. We look forward to bringing this ‘Bold Ship to the Bold City’ that once was home to many Cold War era workhorses like the Oliver Hazard Perry Frigates, P-3 Orions, and MH-60 Seahawks. We are excited for the community to enjoy stepping back to the time of the Cold War onboard this piece of living history! With Jacksonville’s large Naval community, we feel the Orleck is a fitting tribute and terrific match to call Jacksonville home!”

About the Author:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident, journalist and experienced broadcast news producer with a passion for classic and exotic cars.