USS Orleck prepares to open its doors

By Crystal Price - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - After months of restoration, officials with the USS Orleck Naval Museum are hoping to open the historic navy ship to the public by November 20th.

Museum officials showed their appreciation to the volunteers for five months of restoration through a party on the upper deck of the Orleck on Saturday evening.

The volunteers have restored most of the inside rooms, installed new lifelines on the deck, and repainted a majority of the inside and outside areas of the ship.

"We're going to try and make it realistic to where when people come aboard they can see what the men and women went through when defending our freedom," said Mark Boudreaux, President of the USS Orleck Naval Museum.

Boudreaux said the museum officials have been working with sailors who served on the ship. The navy veterans have been telling them stories and giving them ideas on how to restore the ship.

Lloyd Lewis served on the USS Orleck as a baker from 1946 to 1947.

Lewis said although some things have changed drastically on the ship, there was one area that immediately took him back to his service days.

"When I walked through the passageway I turned and saw what I remembered as the bread locker," said Lewis. "I remembered exactly where that was. I pointed right to it and there it was."

Lewis said he cannot wait for the USS Orleck to open to the public.

"I'm just glad that people are volunteering to restore it and get it ready to go again," said Lewis.

Although the navy ship is almost ready to open to the public, museum officials said the restoration process will still be on-going. For information on how to volunteer or make donations to the Orleck, call Ron Williams at (337) 526-2699.

Copyright 2010 KPLC. All rights reserved.