Jacksonville Naval Museum sends USS Orleck museum ship to dry dock – Orange Leader
Jacksonville, Florida – The Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association (JHNSA), parent owners of the future Jacksonville Naval Museum, has started towing the USS Orleck Naval Museum in dry dock. JHNSA took advantage of an opening in the dry dock schedule. This is a critical step in the process of verifying that the vessel is capable of continuing to serve as a museum ship and that it is within the financial limits of JHNSA. It will also help meet the development agreement requirement to have proof that the ship is strong to serve as a museum ship in Jacksonville.
The USS Orleck departed Lake Charles, Louisiana on Wednesday, December 15, 2021. The Orleck arrived in Port Arthur, Texas on Thursday, December 16. Smith Maritime Incorporated, of Green Cove Springs, was the tow company. The cost of this first tow is $ 105,000. While in Port Arthur, the vessel will be dry-docked at the Gulf Copper and Manufacturing Corporation for inspection, hull reinforcement and preservation. The dry docking took place on Friday, December 17. The preservation will be cleaning the hull and painting the exterior of the vessel from top to bottom. This work is expected to last 30 days, with the working days of the dry dock taking place Monday through Saturday and closed for statutory holidays. This will position the towing of the Orleck for Jacksonville in mid-January with an arrival in late January. The tow to Jacksonville is expected to take approximately 10 to 12 days.
JHNSA’s costs to bring the Orleck to Jacksonville have increased significantly since the last estimate made in March 2020. With $ 250,000 in new repairs needed as a result of last year’s Hurricane Laura, material costs, fuel and labor – project costs in the shipyard are now about $ 1.8 million plus $ 65,000 for paint. This is an increase from previous estimates of $ 1.3 million for shipyards and $ 56,000 for paint from 18 months ago. The JHNSA is grateful to have recently received a donation of $ 100,000 in October from a State Navy veteran who strongly supports JHNSA’s mission to establish a naval museum and help save the historic USS Orleck. As of January 2020, JHNSA has spent approximately $ 164,000 on the Orleck for inspections, vessel insurance, towing down payment and other needs.
In dry dock, the Orleck will undergo a hull inspection to ensure that it is capable of continuing to serve as a museum ship. The JHNSA is expected to know the status of the inspection by Tuesday, December 21. If the hull is found beyond the financial means of the JHNSA for the restoration, the decision will then be taken by the Orleck association with the agreement of the JHNSA to recover the vessel for the scrap.
In Jacksonville, the vessel will be moored aft, to starboard of the 600-foot-long “Pier 1”. It is adjacent to Berkman’s Marina along East Bay Street in the former shipyard district of downtown Jacksonville’s sports and entertainment district. The date of arrival in Jacksonville has not been set and will be notified in future press releases. Once docked, JHNSA will continue to prepare the museum ship for its opening as the Jacksonville Naval Museum. The “jetty side” prep work should take two to four weeks, but can be extended as needed. Before the ship arrives, work will be done to prepare the jetty. A separate modular building with a ticket office, gift shop and restroom will be suspended at the request of the Downtown Investment Authority (DIA). The DIA has asked JHNSA to wait until plans are made for the shipyard area.
The Jacksonville Naval Museum will showcase the “US Navy Cold War Experience,” which is portrayed by the former USS Orleck. The Orleck, a WWII Gearing-class destroyer, was heavily modified as part of the Fleet Rehabilitation and Maintenance Program (FRAM II) in the early 1960s. The Orleck embodies the periods of the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Cold War in US Navy history, having served in all three. The 4 steam-powered, double-propeller Orleck is much smaller than today’s gas turbine destroyers with a length of only 390 feet, a width of 41 feet, an “air draft” of. 109 feet at the top of the mast with an empty displacement current of approximately 2350 tons. Having such a long and prolific service history, the Orleck is the most decorated post-war ship ever built and has been awarded 18 Battle Stars. After the American naval service of Orleck, he was transferred to the Turkish Navy and renamed Yüctepe (D 345). She continued to serve until transferred to the United States in August 2000 to become a museum ship.
The Jacksonville Naval Museum will honor past generations of veterans and inspire future patriots with STEM and history education opportunities. The museum will serve as a gathering place for naval associations, crew reunions and military conventions while supporting veterans as a local networking and resource center. Future initiatives may include a tall ships festival or a naval fleet week; increased tourism to downtown Jacksonville.