Jacksonville’s long talked about floating Naval Museum is becoming a reality, set to transport visitors back in time to the Cold War era in a piece of living history. The Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association (JHNSA) has chosen the museum ship— the ex-U.S.S. Orleck—to be the official centerpiece of the Jacksonville Naval Museum. The Orleck is a WWII-era Gearing Class destroyer, built in 1945 and named in honor of WWII Navy hero Lieutenant Joseph Orleck. The Orleck served in the Korean War, Vietnam War, and Cold War periods in United States Navy history.
The ship is expected to arrive in Jacksonville by March. It will be moored stern in, starboard side to the east side of the 600-foot-long “Pier 1,” adjacent to the Berkman Marina along East Bay Street in the old Shipyards area of downtown’s Sports and Entertainment District. A separate museum building with ticketing, gift shop, and restrooms is planned to accompany the ship. JHNSA is working with the Downtown Investment Authority (DIA) on this use of the Shipyards property.
The museum ship will feature the “U.S. Navy Cold War Experience,” with STEM-plus-history education opportunities. A Sea Scout Program, geared toward boys and girls who live within a mile around the pier, will be made possible through a gift to the North Florida Council of the Boy Scouts of America from a JHNSA officer and his late wife. The JHNSA says the museum will serve as a gathering place for naval associations, crew reunions, and military conventions while supporting local veterans as a resource and networking center. Future initiatives may include a Tall Ships Festival or Navy Fleet Week, increasing tourism to downtown Jacksonville.
Learn more at www.jaxnavalmuseum.org.