In 2010, the Cacasieu Ship Channel carried an immense project into Lake Charles: the historic destroyer USS Orleck. Now when Sam Nelson (left) tells his wife he's off to play, she knows he'll be working on bringing the Orleck up to snuff. With help, local men rescued the 1945 destroyer from a dock in Orange, Texas. A dedicated bunch of volunteers work as hard as any crew to restore the vessel to its former glory.
Nelson speaks from experience when he leads tours. He served on a similar vessel and made visits to the USS Orleck itself during his time of duty.
Tin can sailors led an uncomfortable life, Nelson points out to visitors as he leads them past the projectiles for the five-inch guns (below, left) or the radar scope and situational display in the Combat Information Center (below, center). Bunks stacked three high, filled by rotating shifts of sleeping sailors, provided little head room between the top of each mattress and the bunk of ceiling overhead. Showers were apportioned by rank, with the lowest often waiting weeks to wash. "People at sea don't smell very good," Nelson comments, as he leads the group down into the depths of the ship.
Fortunately, the breeze on the deck is warm and inviting, and in these parts, even the saltiest of sailors can feel free as a bird.
Excellent story in the current edition of American Road Magazine about the USS Orleck, her crew and her sailors during their time of service in the US Navy! For the full article visit American Road Magazine online.
CRAIG & LIZ LARCOM are Montana-based photographers and roadside contributors to AMERICAN ROAD. JILLIAN GURNEY is an editor for AMERICAN ROAD. Hackberry Ramblers photo Ben Sandmel, all rights reserved. 1951 photo of USS Orleck in public domain. All other photos by Craig & Liz Larcom.
Article credits given to the above named publication/contributors and appears with expressed written permission from American Road Magazine.