It’s official… USS Orleck opens to the public

It’s official… USS Orleck opens to the public
City officials and community leaders pose before the USS Orleck at its opening ceremony on Sept. 23. Featured from left to right: Dana Karzan, Jim Webb, Brian Wolfburg, Bob Orleck, Dan Oakey, Lisa Cochran, Daniel Bean, Diane Fears and Dr. Charles E Moreland. Photo by Michele Leivas.

The USS Orleck DD-86 is now officially open to the public.

“…We have been working 12 years for this day, for this moment,” said Jacksonville Naval Museum President Daniel Bean at the opening ceremony on Friday, Sept. 23. “I would like to just say that dreams do come true.”

Bob Orleck, nephew to the ship’s namesake — Lieutenant Joseph Orleck — and executive director of the USS Orleck DD-86 Association, attended the event and spoke both of his uncle and the ship itself.

“This is where she was meant to be,” Orleck said of the retired destroyer’s new homeport.

“This is only possible because of the hard work of a great number of volunteers,” said Vystar Credit Union President and CEO Brian Wolfburg during the ceremony. “Those are volunteers who are committed to our community, to our downtown and to our military and that brings together everything Vystar stands for.”

City of Jacksonville Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Dr. Charles E. Moreland spoke at the ceremony as well, stating, “This is history.”

USS Orleck
USS Orleck

“…We’re grateful for our partnerships all over the City to make this a reality here today,” he added. “One of the things the mayor mentioned, he was going to transform the skyline of Jacksonville. Well, Mayor? I believe you’ve done that.”

The USS Orleck is the most decorated U.S. Navy warship post-World War II. Commissioned on Sept, 15, 1945, the ship served in the Cold War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. During the Korean War, she began what became known as the “Train Buster Club” after successfully eliminating two military transport trains, first destroying the tracks ahead of and behind the trains and then the trains themselves.

After 37 years of service, the USS Orleck was decommissioned on Oct. 1, 1982 and was transferred to the Turkish Navy.

The Orleck first arrived in Jacksonville in March of this year and is temporarily moored at the Jacksonville Riverwalk, but will ultimately be moved to her final location at the anticipated Shipyards West Park on Bay Street. According to Downtown Jacksonville, the park “will be a world-class riverfront park inclusive of complimentary amenities that will provide the missing link between Riverfront Plaza and Metropolitan Park.” Design of the park is expected to be complete by early 2023. The USS Orleck “will be part of the activation of that park,” explained Jacksonville Naval Museum Executive Director Jim Webb.

Vystar employees and members received early access to the USS Orleck on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 24 and 25, while the ship officially opened to the public on Wednesday, Sept. 28. Its hours are Wednesdays thru Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

It is currently located at 114 E. Coastline Drive.

By Michele Leivas
Resident Community News

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