JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Take a walk back through time! The USS Orleck opens to the public as the Jacksonville Naval Museum Wednesday morning.
The grand opening on the riverfront outside the Hyatt Regency was delayed from last week due to Hurricane Ian. Starting at 9:00 a.m. you can go on board one of the nation's most decorated war ships and take a walk back through time.
"It's a symbol of the Navy for Jacksonville," said Daniel Bean, president of the Jacksonville Naval Museum. "You come across the bridge and you see it and I think it's very eye opening for people."
Walking through the tight hallways, it's easy to see how much history the USS Orleck holds. Built in WWII, its walls hold history from the Cold War, Korean War, Vietnam War and Desert Storm. The Naval destroyer is nicknamed "The Grey Ghost of the Vietnam Coast" for firing more rounds to support ground troops than any other ship.
"Frankly, as a person who served on two warships and for years went around the world," Bean began. "Sometimes I catch myself flashing back when I'm walking down a passageway and going, 'Oh my God, am I going up a watch? Am I back in the Persian Gulf? Am I in the Mediterranean?' So there's those moments as well."
Bean says he is excited about switching up what you can see on the 77-year-old ship to keep you coming back.
"It's going to be an honoring history, obviously, but also we want to make it exciting," he said. "New laser tag or Airbnb, all those types of things as we go forward in the future."
Bean says they've got events booked through the new year and they're always looking for volunteers. Ship Manager Craig Bernat says more than 300 people used to run the ship. Now you can be one of the people on board.
Jacksonville is reportedly the third largest Navy town in the country and Bean says it's symbolic to have the USS Orleck here.
"There's a lot of great pride that they take and having the warship downtown is a reminder to folks that freedom isn't free," Bean said. "It's also, I think, a great appreciation of the sacrifices that the people that made before us to give us what we have now."
Bernat says you don't need a ticket, you can just show up Wednesday between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. The suggested donation for adults is $15 and $10 per child.