The USS Orleck (DD-886) remained on the Navy list for over four decades in the mid-to-late 20th century before being transferred to Turkey. She was named for Lieutenant Joseph Orleck who served aboard USS Nauset in World War II. Orleck was commissioned as a Gearing-class naval destroyer.
Orleck was laid down at Orange, Texas by the Consolidated Steel Corporation in November 1944, launched in May 1945, and commissioned in September with Commander John D. Andrew in command. Carrying a crew of 336, Orleck was 390 feet, six inches in length with a weapons complement of 21-inch torpedo tubes, six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, and twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns.
Orleck arrived at San Diego Naval Shipyard in January 1946 and then joined the 7th Fleet to conduct mail runs between Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tsingtao China and Jinsen Korea. During this deployment, which lasted from April to August, Orleck also served during minesweeping operations in Hainan Strait.The destroyer returned to the United States in January 1947. In February 1948, Orleck departed the west coast and took part in atomic experiments at Eniwetok.
Orleck sailed on to the western Pacific and then operated in Alaskan waters from January to March 1949. West coast and Hawaiian operations followed until October, and then Orleck returned to the Far East for an annual deployment. She returned to San Diego in July 1950, just after the Korean War began, and was deployed for combat operations in February 1951. Orleck participated in escorting aircraft carriers and shore bombardments, and was back in San Diego by October.
Orleck served another tour of Korea from June to December 1952, and then alternated between west coast exercises and deployments to the Far East throughout the 1950s. An FRAM Mark I overhaul was conducted in 1962 and Orleck was based at Long Beach, California from November 1963 to June 1964. In October, Orleck was deployed to Vietnam until June, helped recover the Gemini IV space capsule, and then returned to Vietnam and continued on deployments there into the 1970s.
Decommissioned in October 1982, Orleck was then transferred to Turkey and renamed Yucetepe. She was later converted to a museum ship at Orange, Texas and ran aground during Hurricane Rita in October 2005. Orleck was brought to Lake Charles, Louisiana as a memorial in May 2010.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Orleck (DD-886)
Asbestos has many characteristics that made it seemingly perfect for use in naval vessels, such as its resistance to heat and corrosion. Gearing-class vessels like Orleck used asbestos in nearly every compartment. The heaviest concentration of asbestos was in engineering spaces, where asbestos insulation and fireproofing was used in boilers, engines, turbines, and pumps. Steam pipes covered in asbestos ran through many sections and corridors.
Many Navy veterans have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. This deadly cancer is only known to be caused by asbestos exposure. Because the link between naval service and asbestos exposure is indisputable, sailors affected by asbestos diseases can seek compensation for their illness. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can explain your rights and pursue legal action on your behalf.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-886.
NavSource Naval History. Orleck (DD-886).