Mar 022014

Historical considerations about USS ORLECK DD 886  

USS ORLECK DD 886 has a unique history that spans five decades from WWII, the Cold War Era, Korea, peacetime and then to Turkey  where she saw action in “Operation Desert Storm”.    ORLECK would bring great  educational opportunities for the staff at the Museum and would allow her visual equipment history to include WWII, Korea and Vietnam for those interested in those historic periods.    After WWII ended she spent a lot of time in the company of Russian Trawlers in the “cat and mouse” games that were perpetually going on and many are interested in that time.  Not only that she was a peacetime vessel and a Turkish vessel and her history covers five decades.

In Korea she distinguished herself in many ways and in particular was the first destroyer to ever have gotten an enemy train in the mountains.  The legendary Captain Yates accomplished the feat, not once but twice in a period of ten days.  From this action the ORLECK became the founder of the “Train Buster’s Club”.   Many allied ships taking the cue from USS ORLECK began slipping into coves, watching for those sparking tracks high in the mountains of North Korea then just at the right time opened with their 5” guns and took them out.

Then in Vietnam she distinguished herself  for more awards than any other ship being eligible for 14 battle stars there.  From 1964 through 1973 she went into enemy waters 29 different times in 14 of the recognized 17 Vietnam campaigns.  Take a look at this video and see exactly what she was doing that she did so well at.  1967 US Navy promotional film called America in Vietnam.  The ship gun fire support sequence at video point 0:59 and then again at 9:50 is  ORLECK. The video shows her at her best firing on enemy positions with a view of her from onboard and from the air. Looks like the Navy planned to document her here as the famous color photo of her firing on the Viet Cong is from this sequence.

This shows exactly what she did in Vietnam.    She  was recognized as “Top Gun” having expended more than 11,000 rounds of 5” ammunition in one tour of duty.

Her actions on the gun line are legendary and many stories are available regarding troops she saved with her accurate gunfire during shore bombardment

USS ORLECK engages enemy in Korea

USS ORLECK engages enemy in Korea

Back in the 60’s USS ORLECK was equipped with the  DASH for anti-submarine use.   We hear about drones all the time nowadays that are very sophisticated with GPS capability.  By comparison the DASH is a Model T,  but is was state-of-the-art equipment for that time.    Later the DASH was changed to function as a spy drone and called a “Snoopie”.  USS ORLECK operated the last known DASH mission in 1962.   USS ORLECK has two of these birds that will make interesting question provoking displays.  The USS ORLECK  would satisfy those seeking out history from WWII and future conflicts as well.

The USS ORLECK is a star in her own right.  In 1950 she played the part of a Japanese destroyer in “American Guerilla in the Philippines” starring Tyrone Power.  Still young and handsome enough she starred in the ABC mini-series “Winds of War” with Robert Mitchum.

Lt. Orleck went down with his ship, the USS NAUSET AT 89, during the invasion of Salerno in WWII when struck from high above by German bombs.    The story can be told of Pearl Harbor and the invasion of Italy.  ORLECK spent a great deal of time in Hawaiian waters so her past covers both theaters of war during different decades with different players.

The USS ORLECK served in the Seventh Fleet in the Pacific for over 37 years.   There are USS ORLECK deck logs that cover 37 years of history and are on-line and searchable.  The docents can direct people to that source for further study.  Hard copies of all the deck logs are on the USS ORLECK having been loaned to the Museum in Lake Charles and are a valuable research tool.

The ORLECK was capable of carrying and deploying a nuclear weapon.  She may or may not have done that and that information I believe is still classified.  If she had been chosen to be a destroyer to carry such a weapon and it is likely in my opinion that she way, her ASROC Missile Launcher would be armed with a 10-kiloton, W44 nuclear depth charge warhead.  Such a conversation by the docents at the Museum could be of great interest to many.  A sister ship, the USS AGERHOLM actually did detonate such a weapon in a test explosion in the 1960′s so that could be discussed and ORLECK could be the show and tell on how it happened.