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USS Orleck headed for new home in Jacksonville

The Cold War-era destroyer will be the centerpiece of the Jacksonville Naval Museum.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — A Cold War-era destroyer will soon arrive in Downtown Jacksonville to continue its career as a museum ship.

The USS Orleck departed a Texas dry dock, where it underwent painting and restoration, towards its new home in Jacksonville. Her previous home was in Lake Charles, LA. She is expected to arrive in Jacksonville later this month, where she will be docked on her starboard side off Pier 1.

The destroyer will serve as the centerpiece to the new Jacksonville Naval Museum.

Named after Lt. Joseph Orleck, the USS Orleck was launched in May 1945 and commissioned later that year in September. By that time, Japan had surrendered to the Allies, ending World War II. 

However, rising tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union gave the US Navy, and its fleet, a new set of objectives.

The USS Orleck's first combat operations was during the Korean War. In 1951, she sailed to the east coast of Korea and took part in carrier escort duties and on-shore bombardment. She would later assist in a naval blockade during the war. She earned four battle stars during her two years in Korea.

After undergoing modernization in 1962, she returned to the Far East, where she helped with the recovery of the Gemini IV spacecraft, as well as carrying out escort duties.

During the Vietnam War, she carried out off-shore gunfire support, surveillance and blockade duties. She earned 14 battle stars between 1964-1973 for her operations during the Vietnam War. She developed the nickname Grey Ghost of the Vietnam Coast and was said to have fired more rounds of support to ground forces than any other ship, according to the Jacksonville Naval Museum.

In 1982, the USS Orleck was decomissioned from the US Navy and formally transferred to the Turkish Navy, who renamed her TCG Yücetepe. She served the Turkish Navy for an additional 17 years before she was decomissioned in Turkey in 1998. 

In 2000, she was given by the Turkish government to the Southeast Texas War Memorial and Heritage Foundation in Orange as museum ship with its old name, the USS Orleck, restored. In 2009, she served as a museum ship in Lake Charles, LA until she acquired by the Jacksonville Naval Museum.