City of Lake Charles could refuse docking to USS Orleck

By Adam Hooper - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -  It has been talked about for years, and still no USS Orleck in Lake Charles. The old World War II destroyer was set to be towed to the lake area this Friday, but now that has changed. This city council would first like to work out some of the issues surrounding the ship's stay, like who would pay for up keep, and who is responsible if the ship is damaged in a hurricane?

"They put two items on the agenda that gave them the option to deal with it one way or the other. We either issue a permit, enter into an agreement and work it out, or if it can't be worked out, take legal action to stop it from coming," said Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach.

The 1945 US Naval destroyer currently resides in Orange, Texas. And, despite damage from Hurricane Rita, appears to be in good shape.

"We want to bring it in here for the enjoyment of the people in southwest Louisiana," said Ed Martin, USS Orleck Board Chairman.

"It's really important, because it gives us the opportunity to share with the next generation, the service and sacrifice of those before us," said Ronald Williams, USS Orleck Board Vice Chairman.

Eventually, supporters of the USS Orleck would like to see the ship dock on the lake front, near the Yacht club. But, should they reach an agreement with the city, the USS Orleck would be towed to the old Texico bulk plant for a year, free of charge, while future lake front plans could be ironed out.

Some say the historic vessel would boost tourism for the area. At the old bulk plant, ship replacement parts sit in a warehouse, ready for use. Orleck board members are soon hoping for plans of tours, navy reunions, and even overnight stays on the Orleck, for interested history buffs.

"We have people that are waiting to tell their story. It's exciting," said Martin.

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