The USS Orleck is expected to arrive in Downtown Jacksonville on March 26.
The Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association said the ship is estimated to enter the St. Johns River channel at 7 a.m. and arrive at the Shipyards Downtown from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., depending on weather, shipping traffic and the current. It is being towed to the city from Texas.
“Since taking office, my administration has been committed to developing Downtown and creating a lasting impact on Jacksonville’s skyline,” Mayor Lenny Curry said in a news release. “The U.S.S. Orleck and Jacksonville Naval Museum will serve as a valuable addition as we continue to grow Downtown into a premier destination.”
The Orleck will be moored temporarily along the Jacksonville Riverwalk near the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront hotel.
A permanent home is planned at the Jacksonville Shipyards west of the demolished Berkman Plaza II, where a sign says “coming soon – Future home of the USS Orleck Museum Ship.” There are plans for a ticket office, gift shop and a park that could include naval aircraft on display.
VyStar Credit Union is one of the sponsors of bringing the Orleck to the city.
“Having this historic ship on the bank of the St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville will honor and celebrate our community’s military heritage and serve as a world-class destination for people of all ages,” VyStar President and CEO Brian Wolfburg said in the release.
“We are grateful for the efforts of the many individuals who worked on this transformative project. This is a proud moment for our community.”
Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association agreed to acquire the Orleck after years of trying to bring other ships the city, including the USS Adams. The Orleck was inspected and underwent $2.05 million of repairs and preservation work in Texas.
The Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association said the goal is to open the ship in June to help celebrate the city’s bicentennial.
The Orleck was in service in the U.S. from 1945 to 1982. In 2010, it opened as museum in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Named after Lt. Joseph Orleck, the ship was called the “Top Gun” of Vietnam. The Orleck crew fired more than 11,000 rounds, earning it the nickname, “Grey Ghost of the Vietnam Coast.”
The Orleck is the most-decorated post-World War II ship and received 14 battle stars and dozens of awards.
The Jacksonville City Council signed off Aug. 10 on the association’s plan to bring the USS Orleck DD-886 to Downtown Jacksonville as a naval museum. The Council voted 17-0 to approve a 10-year development agreement between the association and the Downtown Investment Authority to move the warship to Pier No. 1 adjacent to the Berkman Marina at the Shipyards along the St. Johns River.
Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association is seeking donations and volunteers for the Orleck museum.
For more information, visit jaxnavalmuseum.org