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USS Orleck back on pace for move to Jacksonville

Published: Jun. 22, 2021 at 6:12 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - The quest to move the USS Orleck Navy Ship, which has called the Lake Area home for the last 11 years, is back on schedule for its move to Jacksonville, Florida.

The goal is to now have the former Navy ship drydocked in Jacksonville by Veteran’s Day. But before that, the ship will have to travel to Port Arthur, Texas, for an “out-of-water” assessment.

”Where we are right now is we have a window of opportunity to get the ship to drydock in Port Arthur in August,” Executive Director Ron Williams said.

What was once a delay has now turned into a tight schedule for the USS Orleck.

”It’s been a long wait. We’re just excited that we reached this point where Jacksonville’s city council is finalizing the ordinance,” Williams said.

Williams said after experiencing setbacks from the pandemic and last year’s storms, things are finally back on pace for the 76-year-old ship.

”It’s a legacy that we can’t let go,” Williams said. “We have to preserve these things. There are no more ‘tin cans’ like this to preserve, as they call it.”

The ship has a rich history that superintendent Steve Miller says has been battle-tested by mankind and mother nature.

READ MORE: USS Orleck battered but not broken by Hurricane Laura, director explains future plans for the ship

”We got this ship and saved it, and so, it’s lived longer than most ships - through three wars, many hurricanes...,” Miller said.

Having reached this stage in the process, Willams says hopefully in about six weeks the ship will travel to a dry dock in Port Arthur where it will go through four weeks of maintenance.

”It’s a 16-hour tow, because it has to go out in the Gulf and back up the Sabine channel,” Williams said.

If it passes that make-or-break test, the hope is that it will be smooth sailing for the ex-US Navy Destroyer and put the ship back in the business of teaching the history of American combat.

Jacksonville has a rich naval history that Williams said will be able to provide valuable resources for the preservation of the ship.

Donations to keep the ORLECK a Naval Museum Ship can be sent HERE.

In November, the Jacksonville Downtown Development Review Board approved plans to build a temporary welcome center and office space for USS ORLECK DD-886 Naval Museum proposed for the city-owned shipyard’s property, Jacksonville Daily Record reports.

The board voted 8-0 to approve a 90-by-50-foot modular building for the Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association’s warship museum. The vote came after the board added a condition that the nonprofit return to DDRB in three years to extend approval for a temporary building or submit designs for a permanent center.

The Naval Ship Association plans to tow the USS Orleck from Lake Charles, Louisiana, to Jacksonville, Florida.

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