The USS Orleck was named after Joseph Orleck, who was born January 22, 1906 and enlisted in the Navy on June 23, 1924. Lieutenant Orleck went down with his ship, the USS Nauset, on September 9, 1943, when it was hit by a Luftwaffe bomber in the Gulf of Salerno. For his courageous firefighting and flood control efforts during the attack, Lt. Orleck was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.
Commanded by Commander J.D. Andrew, the USS Orleck was commissioned on September 15, 1945, and got underway on January 20, 1946, joining the 7th Fleet. The ship’s initial assignment was a series of mail runs in the Asia Pacific and assisting in minesweeping operations in the Hainan Strait. The Orleck barely missed the outbreak of the Korean War when it returned to San Diego in July 1950.
Action in the Korean War
The first combat operations of the USS Orleck were in February 1951, when the ship and crew set sail to join U.N. forces off the coast of Korea. During this time the Orleck alternated between escort duties and shore bombardment missions.
On October 15, 1951, the Orleck returned to San Diego. The ship was then used to train destroyer crews and conduct exercises for both individuals and squadrons until June 1952, when the crew returned to the Far East and participated in blockade and logistics interdiction missions. During its time in the Far East, the Orleck collided with a North Korean supply train, making the ship a member of the Train Busters Club. The USS Orleck received four battle stars for service in Korea.
In February 1955, the USS Orleck was relieved from patrolling off the Tachen Islands just prior to the islands’ evacuation. The Orleck continued rotating between duty in the Western Pacific and training exercises off the US west coast until May 1960, when it became part of the first squadron to have a home port in the Western Pacific since before World War II.
The USS Orleck received a modernization overhaul in 1962, and was given the newest in technical equipment and weaponry, including Ant-Submarine Rockets (ASROC) and Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter (DASH). The destroyer was then home ported in Long Beach and conducted training exercises.
Action in the Vietnam War
During the Vietnam War, the USS Orleck engaged in several operations, providing shore bombardment and gunfire support during operations Starlight, Piranha, Dagger Thrust, and Double Eagle. Orleck also alternated surveillance of a Russian electronic intelligence Trawler.
It was decommissioned on October 1, 1982 and stricken from the Naval Register on August 6 of that year. From 1982 to 2000, the Orleck served with the Turkish Navy. On August 12, 2000, the Orleck was made into a memorial in Orange, Texas.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, especially during World War II, naval destroyers also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.