USS Orleck ready to make its move

The USS Orleck could be moved from its home on North Enterprise Boulevard to a dock in Westlake near the Isle of Capri Casino by the end of the year, an official with the ship said Tuesday.

Mark Boudreaux, president and CEO of the Orleck Naval Museum, said the Army Corps of Engineers recently approved a permit to move the World War II-era destroyer from its dock site on the Calcasieu River. He said moving near the casino would bring the vessel more attention because of traffic along Interstate 10.

“It’s been our ambition all along to be able to have it on Interstate 10 to where it gets all the visual exposure,” Boudreaux said. “People can see it, turn around and come see a nice museum. The (casino) is sort of a tourist destination of itself.”

Isle spokeswoman Jill Alexander said a written legal agreement between the USS Orleck and the Isle must be signed before the process can move forward. She said she did not know when that would happen.

Boudreaux said dockside facilities for the ship could cost $300,000 to $500,000. He said Orleck officials are seeking private donations to help fund the project.

Built in Orange, Texas, the Orleck served in the U.S. Navy from 1945 until 1982. It served in the Korean and Vietnam wars and assisted in the Gemini IV space capsule recovery.

It was then sold to Turkey and served in that nation’s navy until 2000.

The Southeast Texas War Memorial and Heritage Foundation in Orange obtained the ship from Turkey and converted it into a memorial and museum.

After the vessel was damaged by Hurricane Rita in 2005, Orange City Hall denied a request to allow the ship to be permanently docked on the Sabine River.

The Lake Charles City Council approved the temporary relocation of the ship to Lake Charles in May 2009. It was towed up the Calcasieu River to its current location in May 2010.