Article by Ennis Davis, AICP
The USS Orleck is one of 98 Gearing class destroyers built at nine shipyards across the country for the U.S. Navy during World War II. The ship was built by the Consolidated Steel Corporation in Orange, Texas and stood at 390 feet and six inches. It launched on May 12, 1945. It was named after U.S. Navy officer Lieutenant Joseph Orleck, the commanding officer of the USS Nauset, who was killed in action when his ship was hit by German aircraft in the Gulf of Salerno on September 9, 1943.
Known as “The Gray Ghost”, the USS Orleck has a long and impressive history. Between 1946 and 1949, it operated in the western Pacific with Task Force 77 off China and Japan and participated in atomic tests off Alaska. During the Korean War, it performed carrier escort duties, blockade and logistics interdiction missions and shore bombardment, earning four battle stars. During the Vietnam War, the Orleck earned another fourteen stars and was named “Top Gun” for firing more shells than any other U.S. destroyer during the conflict. After being decommissioned in 1982, the ship was given to the Turkish Navy and renamed TCG Yucetepe (D 345). The Yucetepe operated in the Aegean and Mediterranean and was involved with NATO exercises until 1998.
After serving as a ship museum in Texas and Louisiana, it could be headed to Downtown Jacksonville. After years of trying to bring vessel to town, the Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association seeks conceptual approval from the Downtown Design Review Board (DDRB) for the Jacksonville Naval Museum.
Plans submitted to the DDRB show the USS Orleck moored at the Shipyards Pier 1. A modular building that can be relocated if required, would be positioned nearby to serve as a gift shop, administrative offices and restrooms.
Jacksonville Naval Museum DDRB Presentation