Tag Archives: Gearing-class destroyer

Orleck, arriving

We’ve been following the saga of the Gearing-class destroyer USS Orleck (DD-886) for the past several years. For those who haven’t, the fortune cookie catch up is that the old girl was too late for WWII, but saw lots of combat during Korea– where she received four battle stars and earned a spot in the “Train Busters Club” — and along the gunline off Vietnam for Market Garden– firing fired 11,000+ rounds and earning 10 further stars– as well as was on the team that recovered the Gemini IV space capsule for NASA.

Off Mare Island, 1959

Decommissioned in 1982, she went on to work for the Turks for two decades as TCG Yücetepe (D-345).

Then she was, epically, brought back across the Atlantic where she served as a museum ship in two different Gulf Coast locales for the past 20 years.

Now saved from the mud of the Calcasieu River and benefitting from a $2.5 million refit, she has successfully made it from Texas, through the Florida Straits, to Jacksonville, where she has been paraded into town and is tied up, awaiting her first tours and grand opening later this summer.

Orleck At sea off of Key Largo. Photo by Elsbeth III Captain Wallace Milham.

Entering Jax. If you didn’t see the tow line you would think she is leaving for deployment, the oldest Gearing still in active service. Photo by Ashley Iselborn 

Looking great for a 77-year old FRAM’d tin can! Photo by Ashley Iselborn 

Great to see her ready for her next chapter!

Orleck on the way to getting better

The Gearing-class destroyer USS Orleck (DD-886) has had a long and happy career, in at least four parts. Laid down 28 November 1944, the 77-year-old warship is about to embark on her fifth.

Her first part, beginning with her U.S. Navy commissioning two weeks after VJ Day, saw the support of post-WWII minesweeping operations off China, combat during Korea– where she received four battle stars and earned a spot in the “Train Busters Club” — followed by tense Taiwan Strait patrols.

Off Mare Island, 1959

The 1960s FRAMing added ASROC and DASH drones just in time to support the recovery of the Gemini IV space capsule for NASA, and deliver naval gunfire support off Vietnam.

Orleck NGFS March 1966, firing on a Viet Cong stronghold near Vung Tau, at the mouth of the Saigon River. Photo by J. L. Means, NPC K-31267

Decommissioned on 1 October 1982, she was transferred to Turkey for the second part of her work career, serving Istanbul as the destroyer TCG Yücetepe (D-345) for another 18 years.

Saved by the USS Orleck Association, the third part of her career saw her brought back “home” in 2000 and opened as a low-traffic museum ship in Orange, Texas, where she had been built by the Consolidated Steel Corporation in WWII.

Then, the historic ship moved to nearby Lake Charles a decade later, where she received even less traffic as the industrial Louisiana coastal city isn’t exactly on the tourism trail. Heck, I tried to tour Orleck three different times when I was passing through between Galveston and Pascagoula but she always seemed closed for one reason or another.

Last year, washed up the Calcasieu River by a hurricane, the group that runs her went ahead and called Lake Chuck quits and made contact with an organization in Jacksonville to move there, a Navy city with a plan to put her in a high-traffic park downtown.

In preparation for this move, last week Orleck was successfully towed to the Gulf Copper Central Yard in Port Arthur for a much-needed drydocking.

You can follow her progress here.