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Lease agreement in works for USS Orleck move

Last Modified: Saturday, February 09, 2013 6:16 PM

By John Guidroz / American Press

Details aren’t complete for a lease agreement that would move the U.S.S. Orleck from its North Enterprise Boulevard home in Lake Charles to a dock near the Isle of Capri Casino in Westlake.

Ron Williams, the Orleck’s executive director, said he and casino representatives are still working on a document to cement the agreement.

“It’s not just talk,” he said.

Williams said the plan is to “sublease property from the Isle.” The piece of property is between the casino hotel and the Interstate 10 bridge.

“The ship is 390 feet long,” Williams said. “The dock area will be a little wider and longer than the ship itself, but we don’t need a huge footprint on the shore.”

Once the document is signed, Williams said Orleck officials will begin a fundraising campaign to pay for the dockside facilities. Mark Boudreaux, president and CEO of the Orleck Naval Museum, said in January that those facilities could cost $300,000 to $500,000.

Williams said the new location will be more visible and, he hopes, will attract more visitors. He said they are working on an arrangement with the Naval Reserve Center in Shreveport to bring reservists in every month to work on the ship.

The Orleck was part of the U.S. Navy’s fleet for nearly 40 years before being sold to Turkey. 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 permanently dock the ship 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.

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