Historical Summary


Brief History of the USS Orleck

The purpose of this page is to give you a brief overview of the history of a United States Destroyer. A ship that steamed the world seas for 54 years has so much history that all the pages imaginable could not contain it. So please look at the other pages of this website for a more detailed history. Look at the chronologies, the sea stories, and the information on her namesake, Joseph Orleck, the information from Turkey and the many other pages that speak to her wonderful service to our country and to the entire free world.

Laid down 28 November 1944 by Consolidated Steel Corporation of Texas with total cost of only $6,313,000, named ORLECK 11 January 1945, launched 12 May 1945, commissioned in Orange, Texas 15 September 1945 (the last destroyer commissioned at the end of World War II), the USS ORLECK DD 886 was in active service for almost 54 years. Her namesake, Lt. Joseph Orleck, as commanding officer of the USS NAUSET AT 89, was struck by aerial bombs during the 9 September 1943 amphibious invasion of Salerno Italy. He directed activities that resulted in the transfer of surviving crew to rescue ships. Lt. Orleck stayed with his ship in an attempt to beach her to prevent total loss, but she struck an enemy mine that took both of them down. For this he was awarded the Navy Cross and later what was to become a great ship, was named in his honor.

The USS ORLECK was the last of the largest buildup of destroyers in our nation’s history. It ended the program that began with the Fletcher Class Destroyers, continued through the Sumner Class and ultimately to the Gearing Class Destroyer. Most of these ships just plain wore out and were retired in the 60’s and early 70’s. But the USS ORLECK was just like the Eveready Bunny, she just kept going on and on and on and ….

ORLECK was the last active FRAMed destroyer in the Pacific and served longer than any other such ship. The need for ships of her kind, (Gearing Class Destroyers), grew out of the fast changing nature of modern sea warfare. She was designed to operate with a battle fleet as carrier escort and front line defense against like enemy vessels so she needed to have destructive capabilities, but as a carrier escort she also had to be fast. (ORLECK was known to do 38 knots) Air threats to carriers required them to be armed to destroy the enemy from above. They also had to have the firepower for shore bombardment. A threat of a Soviet submarine buildup loomed on the horizon after the 50’s, therefore, they had to be modified to reflect an anti-submarine role. In other words, they had to be mean and lean and adaptable. What is important to understand is that the ORLECK did go through an evolutionary process that included FRAMing and other modifications and such changes ultimately made her a ship that had the equipment and ability to deal with changing war tactics that required not only anti-aircraft capability but anti-submarine and surface warfare capability as well. The accomplishments of ORLECK type destroyers show they were capable in all of these areas.

During the time that she saw action in Korea and Vietnam, USS ORLECK achieved such accomplishments as being named “Top Gun” of the Seventh Fleet in Vietnam. She was the iniator and charter member of the “Train Buster Club” in Korea when she knocked out military transport trains on two different occasions. Her final United States port was in Tacoma, Washington, where she was a vital part of the Naval Reserve Forces. Over the years she was decorated many times and the men of the ship developed a pride and loyalty to her and her namesake, Lieutenant Joseph Orleck. She was decommissioned and transferred to the Turkish Navy on 1 October 1982 where she operated as TCG YUCETEPE D 345 for sixteen additional years.

The USS ORLECK DD 886 Association was formed in the late 1980’s and since then has met in reunion in San Antonio in 1993 (155 attended), San Diego in 1995 (255 attended), Charleston in 1997 (283 attended), Portland, Maine in 1999 (263 came) and in Seattle, Washington in 2001 where a record 309 people attended the reunion. USS ORLECK people would not be denied when Hurricane Lili came visiting the reunion in Orange, Texas in October 2002, and 370 of the 450 registered to attend showed up and had a wonderful time. In June 2003 the group went to Waikiki, Hawaii (190 attended) A Memorial Service occurred in 2004 at Arlington National Cemetery for Lt. Joseph Orleck, This was followed by reunions in 2006 in Wilmington, 2008 in Branson, 2010 in Newport, Rhode Island and 2012 in Northern Kentucky. The San Diego reunion that was held August 2014 was amazing and 202 folks attended.   You can read and listen all about it right here on this website. as well as our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/UssOrleck.

  11 Responses to “Historical Summary”

  1. If someone knew my husband, Alfred Jellison, EW, who served on the USS Orleck in the 1970’s, I am seeking information. Thank you for responding.

  2. The ORLECK is coming to Jacksonville, FL! Welcome to downtown Jax. I am a Director at the Museum of Science and History (MOSH) of Jacksonville, and we are excited to be neighbors to the ORLECK as cultural resources for Northeast Florida. As a retired Sailor myself (mostly Frigates), I am proud to welcome my Tin Can Sailor brothers to Jacksonville. Please consider MOSH as a host venue for future ORLECK reunions!

    • Thank you for reaching out to us Doctor. We are the reunion group for DD 886. Looks like a real possibility we may be meeting in your city. I surely hope so. Stay in touch and I look forward to meeting you. Bob Orleck

  3. Hello,
    Thought I’d update anyone interested. The USS Orleck was in Orange, TX, then came to Lake Charles, La for several years. It broke away from the pier during Hurricsne Laura. It is now being moved to Jacksonville, Fl.

  4. What medals did the USS ORLECK get awarded during 1964 – 1967 deployment !

  5. I believe this is a photo of the USS Orleck from sometime in the 1970’s while visiting Kodiak, Alaska. Let me know if you agree.


  6. My name is Thomas Hansen, and I served on the Orleck from May 1969-
    October 1970. I am also not on the roster. Could you please put me on it.
    Tom Hansen

    • Welcome aboard. You are on the roster. Hope to meet you at a reunion. Not sure if you have checked out the website. There are a number of cool things including the 37 years of Deck Logs. It took 21 people 7 years to type them on excel format that is searchable after we sent someone to DC to photocopy them. Two of our sailors, Gary Peters and John Barrios, shepherded the project through and it is probably the most energetic and meaningful thing any reunion group has ever done. We also have all the cruise books on-line and that also was made possible by John Barrios and the magic of Thor Hansen, our webmaster. Maybe you are related.

      Glad you found us.
      Bob Orleck

  7. My name Ken Trotter I served on the Orleck my name is still not on the roster.Would someone call me or text me about this.At 707 391 8332 thanks and God Bless

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