JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The centerpiece of Jacksonville’s new naval museum is on track to open in July.
The USS Orleck has been docked on the Northbank since the end of March, and visitors will soon have a chance to experience what life was like on board.
The museum hasn’t set a date for when the Orleck will welcome its first tours, and it still needs volunteers to help get things ready.
Volunteers are asked to help clean and move equipment between Wednesdays and Sundays leading up to opening day.
Information about how to volunteer and donate can be found at jaxnavalmuseum.org.
Justin Weakland, the vice president of the Jacksonville Historic Naval Ships Association, gave News4JAX a tour of the soon-to-be naval museum.
“We want people to actually understand what may be some of their uncles, fathers, and grandparents actually dealt with while they were underway in the Navy,” Weakland said.
Visitors would get views of the ship’s administrative office, the galley where meals were cooked for 300 people at a time, and the mess decks where sailors ate.
There are also views of the plotter room where tourists could get a glimpse at the firing stations for the guns.
“This ship itself fired more than 11,000 rounds supporting our soldiers on the ground,” Weakland said. “Air Force, Marines and Army forces were on the ground in Vietnam.”
The work is still underway to get this ship to reflect the Vietnam War era.
“When they were firing at Vietnam, there would be people in here that set all of the ranges and settings,” Weakland said while showing a computer used for navigation and combat. “They would plot it and fire.”
The tour will also include a stop at the Pilot House where sailors steered the USS Orleck.
There are also a few pieces of the ship featured in the movie “Greyhound,” which starred Tom Hanks and was released in 2020.
The ship is currently on the Northbank, and it will eventually move to its permanent home at the Shipyards. However, there is still no timetable for when that move will happen.