Built in the mid-1940s in Orange, Texas, the USS Orleck is a piece of naval history. The Navy destroyer was put into service in 1945, where it served during the Cold War and in the Korean and Vietnam wars, gaining the title of “Top Gun” in the Vietnam conflict for firing more rounds in support of ground troops than any other ship in the fleet.
After being decommissioned by the U.S. Navy in 1982, the ship was sold to Turkey and served there for 15 years. Then, rather than scrapping the ship, Turkey offered to return the Orleck to U.S. ownership, leading to its eventual return to U.S. soil and final transfer in 2010 to its berth in Lake Charles as a nonprofit museum.
A trip around the Orleck reveals what life was like on a Gearing-class destroyer: the officers’ wardroom, galley, crew’s quarters, barbershop, and navigation bridge are all part of the tour. Interestingly, placards were written in Turkish still adorn the walls.
Much of the interior of the ship is open for viewing, including a below-deck display room, and several 5-inch, 38-caliber guns can be found topside. In keeping with its past experience on the big screen, some items and artifacts from the ship are slated for use in the upcoming movie Greyhound.
Update as of February 2021: The USS Orleck Naval Museum, a WWII-era destroyer (DD886) is closed to visitors for staff and volunteers to prepare for a tow for dry dock repairs, along with a relocation to Jacksonville Florida.
Know Before You Go
Open M-F 10-3, Saturday 10-4. Admission rates can be found on their website. Once you exit I-10, follow the signs. Supported by a crew of volunteers who donate their time and services to repairs and restoration of the ship, the Orleck is available for tours six days a week, as well as for event rentals, field trips, and even a Halloween themed Haunted Ship event. The ship is also prepared for battle in the form of laser tag games available as public play or party packages.