LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The USS Orleck may be moving to Jacksonville, Fla.
Ron Williams, executive director of the Orleck, confirmed to KPLC that ship officials are in discussions with the Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association to move the ship there.
The move still needs approval from the city of Jacksonville, a Florida TV station is reporting.
The Orleck is located on the Calcasieu River in North Lake Charles, but has never found a permanent home in Southwest Louisiana.
“Without nailing down a permanent location, it’s hard to keep going, raise funds, do what you need to do with a ship, take it to a dry dock and so forth,” said Williams. “It would be a great loss to Lake Charles, but we haven’t been able to get on the right people’s radar screens.”
There is no timetable to move the Orleck and the ship remains open to visitors. It is open from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
Visit orleck.org or call 337-721-7447.
The Orleck was commissioned at the end of World War II and was active during the Korean War and the Vietnam War, firing more rounds in support of ground troops than any other ship during Vietnam.
She was decommissioned by the U.S. Navy in 1982. The Turkish Navy then used the warship for another 16 years.
Once she was retired from service, the Orleck was moved to the Southeast Texas War Memorial and Heritage Foundation in Orange, Texas, but was moved to Lake Charles after Hurricane Rita in 2005.
Since then, ship leaders have never been able to find a permanent home for the ship. Most waterfront areas in Lake Charles are too shallow to host the ship and would have to be dredged.
Williams said he has spoken to numerous area and state leaders, but said the ship never really got the support it needed.
“One of the really disappointing things to me is, this section of the state is so vibrant economically, it’s just sad that this ship has to leave,” Williams said. “It’s just flabbergasting that we haven’t been able to give a permanent home yet.”
Williams said the fact that the ship has been able to stay open here, though its location is always in limbo, shows that it can be a success.
Williams said because the ship already has a museum, it is basically a “plug-and-play” attraction wherever it lands.
He said when the Navy decided to scrap the USS Adams, which the JHNSA had been considering for their area, he contacted Jacksonville about moving the Orleck there.
Representatives from JHNSA have come to look at the ship, but Williams said he has kept the discussions quiet to give them time to make arrangements.