PARTS OF TRANSCRIPT OF DECOMMISSIONING CEREMONY
USS ORLECK DD 886
October 1, 1982
After National Anthem and hoisting of the colors.
Commander Dale Leitschuk of the Navy Chaplain Corp. for invocation.
“I would like to read briefly a portion of scripture from the Bible that was presented to the USS ORLECK upon its commissioning in 1945. Reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, reading v. 1 through 9. This passage of scripture was written by a very wise man, the King of Israel, whose name was Solomon. As he considered the affairs of men, this is what he said
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboreth?
“Indeed this is a time of mixed emotions this morning. Shall we pray? Our heavenly father, indeed thou are the creator of the heavens and the earth. The one who has made the sea and all that is therein. You are the one who rules and reigns this universe upon this earth in which we live. Father we come at this time this morning with mixed emotions and at this time the log of the military service of the USS ORLECK will be closed. Father we are mindful of this ship’s service to our nation. And indeed she has served in time of war, in time of peace. The men who have walked her decks and labored together as they fought for peace and freedom, were willing to give their lives so that we might indeed this day enjoy freedom and peace. Father we ask as this ship continues to sail the seas of the world. When indeed as those who see her will feel that freedom and that peace and security that her presence will bring. Father we pray for the men who will be departing from this command. We ask that you will guide them in their next duty station and that Lord you will use them in a very special way in the service of their nation. Father thank you that we can draw nearer your presence and that thou are our God. That thou are the one who keeps us and watches over us. Thank you Father that you love us and you committed unto us your Word and have given to us the hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
“And we are particularly honored this morning to welcome Mrs. Barbara Orleck and her children Dori and Daniel from the State of Vermont. Mrs. Orleck represents the family of the ship’s namesake, Lt. Joseph Orleck.”
“Distinguished guests, family and friends. At this time it is my great pleasure to introduce Commodore John Chamberlain, Commander, Surface Squadron 1. Commodore Chamberlain is the immediate superior in the chain of command to the commanding officer, USS ORLECK. Commodore.”
“Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: May I first of all say how much I appreciate this spectacular beauty of Tacoma and the surrounding area and the hospitality of the community. I am going to very much miss coming to Tacoma and seeing the USS ORLECK. ORLECK is one of ten ships in Squadron 1, but the only one in the Pacific Northwest. On this day of her decommissioning we see the end of a glorious history of ‘gun destroyers’ in the Pacific Fleet. The last of the breed that fought so gloriously over 3 wars over the last 40 years. I share your concern that with the decommissioning of ORLECK also represents the end of the Naval Reserve Force Destroyer Program in Tacoma and in the Pacific Northwest. A program which provides the Navy with ships which are ready to mobilize and which train our ready selective reserves. I think it is important for all of us to understand the reasons and rationale that led to the reduction in this program. ORLECK, no matter how proud a ship she is, how well manned she is, is no longer the platform which is capable of training our ready selective reserves to go back into the Navy in times of crisis and operate data systems, computer systems, long range sensors, missiles and the very complex propulsion systems that we build into our new ships with high pressure steam and gas turbines. Recognizing this, the Navy has initiated a program to rejuvenate the Navy Reserve Force. In Squadron I in the last year we’ve received two modern 1052 Class Fast Frigates, and I just see the commanding officer of one of them sitting in the audience, which surprises me. These ships and the addition of 2 more 1052 Class Fast Frigates in the next few years and 8 FFG7 Guided Missile Frigates will bring the quality of Surface Squadron I to a much enhanced level. There are plans in development to relocate these ships to different ports on the West Coast. But initially they are being assigned to Long Beach, California where we concentrated a small cadre of technicians and specialists needed to maintain and repair these various and sophisticated ships. And the relocation of the ships to other ports on the West Coast will not begin until there both base and maintenance facilities available. But I would like to assure you that the Navy is fully and firmly committed to a strong and ready Navy Reserve and Naval Reserve Force. Today, to accept custody of USS ORLECK from her commanding officer is a distinguished naval officer who has extensive experience in all facets of naval warfare as well as on all echelons of the Navy. He has commanded the Surface Combatant Force, 7th Fleet. He’s headed the Plans Division for the Pacific Fleet and at the executive level he has been the executive assistant in Washington, DC to the Chief of Naval Operations. I would like to introduce at this time, Rear Admiral Cockell, United States Navy, Commander, Destroyer Group 5.”
“Thank you Commodore Chamberlain. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. I would like at this time to deliver the following message on behalf of the Chief of Naval Operations. On the occasion of the transfer of USS ORLECK to the Turkish Navy, the U.S. Navy bids farewell to the ship that has served her country faithfully. It is a pleasure to know that this fine ship will continue to serve the cause of freedom. This transfer ceremony cemented the ties between our two navies and of our shared determination to protect the freedoms which we value so highly. To Commander Dilberoglu and each member of the new crew, on behalf of the men and women of the United States Navy, I extend warm wishes for much success, fair winds and a following sea. To Commander Torok and the members of his crew, I extend my appreciation for the smooth transfer of USS ORLECK and wish each of you continued success in your new assignments. Signed, James D. Watkins, Admiral, U.S. Navy, Chief of Naval Operations.”
“Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I now present Commander Al Torok, Commanding Officer, USS ORLECK.”
“We are assembled here on this beautiful day, for which we’re thankful for. On the decommissioning and transfer of this ship I would like to recognize and say farewell to some very special people. First are the ORLECK sailors. You will be leaving shortly for your new duty stations throughout the world to serve our nation. I wish you well and thank you for your support and outstanding performance in ORLECK. Your are professional…and I’ll be proud to serve with you again. Ladies and gentlemen, our…is people at sea and ashore. It is the destroyer sailor in the Indian Ocean and the Naval Reservist here in Tacoma. The most modern ships and the most sophisticated equipment are lifeless and useless without men. You sailors are our Navy. Lets send them on their way and give them a hand for a job well done. Secondly, to my wife Maryann and all the Navy wives here, thank you ladies for your backing, encouragement and continuing support. And to you, the citizens of Tacoma, our friends and neighbors, especially for you hospitality over the years, Tacoma was our home port for 9 years and Tacoma will always have a very special place in our hearts. We’ll miss you all. Thank you. And lastly to Commander Dilberoglu and our Turkish friends, we wish you a most enjoyable stay in Tacoma and a safe journey back to Turkey.”
“I will now read the decommissioning order. In compliance with the Chief of Naval Operations message of 19 July 1982, which states in part ‘On 1 October 1982 decommission USS ORLECK and transfer the ship to the Turkish Navy.’ I now place USS ORLECK out of commission.”
“Haul down the awards.”
“Aye, aye, sir!”
“Haul down the awards!”
“Sir the awards have been hauled down!”
“Strike the commissioning pennant and haul down the colors.”
“Aye, aye sir!”
“Will the guests please rise.”
“Ship’s company! Attention!”
“Strike the commissioning pennant and haul down the colors.”
“Sir the commissioning pennant has been struck and the colors hauled down.”
“Will the guests please be seated.”
“Ship’s company, parade rest.”
“Naval tradition that when a ship is decommissioned its commissioning pennant which is carried throughout the active service life of a ship will be presented to the Commanding Officer. To present ORLECK’s commissioning pennant to the Commanding Officer is the ship’s senior enlisted member, Chief Petty Officer Brown.”
“Chief Petty Officer Brown.”
“Executive Officer, disembark the crew.”
“Will guest please rise.”
“Ship’s company. Attention”
“Disembark the crew.”
(As Navy Band plays “Anchors away” (Man-the-rail detail marches off to file in the ranks behind the crew already on the pier.)
“Will guests please be seated.”
“Ship’s Company, Parade Rest.”
“Close the Log. Secure the Watch.”
“Commander Torok will now present custody of the ship to Rear Admiral Cockell, representing the Chief of Naval Operations.”
I hereby deliver custody of ex-USS ORLECK to you.
Very well. I accept custody of ex-USS ORLECK.
Cdr. Leitschuk, Navy Chaplain Corps will now pronounce the benediction.
“Shall we pray. The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine upon thee and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee and give you peace. Amen.” (As Navy Band plays “God Bless America”)
“Retire the colors.”
“Will the guests please be seated.”
“Ship’s company. Parade rest.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, Rear Admiral Cockell will now deliver the ship to the government of Turkey represented by their Naval Attaché to this country, Captain Yulcindag.”
“Captain Yulcindag, pursuant to the provisions in the lease executed 25 September 1982 between our respective governments, and as representative of the Chief of Naval Operations, I hereby transfer the ex-USS ORLECK to the custody of the government of the Republic of Turkey.”
“I accept custody of the ship…of the Republic of Turkey.”
“…the Commanding Officer of the TCG YUCETEPE will now read his orders.”
“Admiral, our friends and allies, the United States Navy, ladies and gentlemen. I am grateful of my chance to thank you on behalf of my…transfer ceremony of the USS ORLECK to Turkey and the Turkish Naval…should be a constant reminder of the friendship and cooperation between the United States and Turkish Navy. Turkish YUCETEPE will play a …role…in the defense of the free world and will continue as a vehicle of peace in our nation like she has done for the United States…”
The men of USS ORLECK spoke as if Lt. Joe Orleck was on the ship and was in charge. They spoke of him as if they knew him personally. Then where is he today since the ship is now in Turkish hands? Tony Norris said it this way; “Joe Orleck protected, guided and nurtured many thousands of us over the years. It was a great honor to be his Shipmate for a few brief moments. He still walks the decks of Yucetepe, I’m sure. Smooth sailing…”
USS ORLECK would see a second decommissioning on 1 April 1998 but even with that she would not be allowed to completely retire. Read on in other sections to see how this ship made history and continues to do so. This will be her fourth career. Her initial employment was as an active U.S. Destroyer seeing service at the end of World War II, during the cold war, Korea and Vietnam. She then moved into her second career as a platform ship for the United States Naval Reserve until her retirement in 1982. No sooner had she retired from that position that she was appointed as a Turkish Warship (TCG YUCETEPE D 345) and she functioned like a pro in that position until she retired on 1 April 1998. The old girl had a chance to sit around for a couple of years in Turkey, survived earthquakes and some discussion about scrapping her. Through the efforts of many, she was drafted again into service and will serve in her fourth career as a museum, celebrating those in the United States and in Turkey who served in her, in ships of like kind, and those who built such wonderful machines in Orange, Texas. This last position looks like long term employment so plan to see USS ORLECK DD 886 around for a long, long time and make sure to visit her someday.