GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The ship channel at the Port of Gulfport is about to get deeper. The port authority got word at Thursday's monthly meeting that a long awaited dredging project will begin next week.
The channel leading to and from the Port of Gulfport is around 33 feet deep, three feet less than its authorized depth of 36 feet, but that's about to change.
"Next Tuesday, the Army Corps of Engineers and their contractor will be mobilizing to commence the dredging work," Port Director Jonathan Daniels told the port authority board.
He told commissioners it's "awfully good news" that should allow more tonnage to ship to and from the Port of Gulfport.
"Because of the commitment that was made by the commissioners of the up to $8 million to match against the $4 million of federal funds, we will be able to completely sweep our channel back to the 36 feet. With a little bit of overcut, we should be somewhere between 36 and 38 feet," said Daniels.
Not only is the dredging good news for recruitment and adding additional tonnage to the port, it's also good news for existing tenants like DuPont, whose operation has been hindered by the shallow channel.
"They have to offload some of their cargo before they can come in. They can now come in fully laden, and as some of the other opportunities that we pursue, having a full channel is extremely vital to our continued growth and success," said Port Authority Chairman John Rester.
Dredging wasn't the only bit of good news at the port authority meeting. Daniels hinted that incoming tenant McDermott is already looking at additional investment at the port.
"This will be certainly in many instances the most efficient terminal that they can imagine, and they're looking beyond the activities that they've talked about and additional opportunities. Ultimately, that translates into jobs," Daniels said.
Daniels also said the port will soon receive a full evaluation from the defense department in its efforts to receive strategic port designation for future military cargo shipping.