Port business impacted by closed Gulf Channel

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - With the fishing vessel "Sandy Point" sitting at the bottom of the sound, and the search for the missing fisherman continuing, safety issues have closed the Gulf Channel until further notice.

"For all purposes no ships go in, no ships go out and that's how we make our living," said Mississippi Port Executive Director Don Allee.

The cargo ship that was involved in Wednesday's collision rests at the relatively quiet port.  Until the channel is open, the Eurus London can't leave, and no new cargo can be accepted.  One incoming ship was already diverted to an alternate port.

"You don't like to lose any business, especially in the climate that we're in today. But this is certainly a situation where the port, the owners of cargos certainly didn't have hand in so we just work around these types of things," said Allee.  However Port Officials are more concerned with the recovery of the missing fisherman, than getting vessels moving through the channel.

"There's a lot of people who make their living on the waterfront, make their living in the water, and I'm proud to say that the thoughts are where you'd think they are," said Allee. "They're with the families of the missing crew members, and I think that's exactly where it needs to be.  I keep stressing commercial, water born cargo is absolutely secondary right now."

Of the three missing, one body had been recovered as of Saturday evening.  Vancleave resident Lindsey A. Tucker was recovered by salvage divers.

The next ship to arrive at the port is due in a few days.  Port officials are hopeful they may be able to accept the ship at that time, but nothing is set.

"We're confident we have a strategy that will compliment the salvage operation that is going on. As everyone knows, the most important thing is the recovery of the missing crew members," said Allee.

Allee says the Port receives around 230 ships each year, and that the Port can afford to loose two ships.

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