Port of Gulfport seeking strategic designation

Port of Gulfport seeking strategic designation

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Port of Gulfport wants military cargo to be part of its future. For more than a year, port leaders have been working to receive "strategic port designation" from the U.S. Defense Department. And they appear to be making progress.

A team of inspectors recently visited the Port of Gulfport for a full scale technical evaluation. Is the port qualified for the military's strategic designation?

"Certainly when you take a look at the southeastern defense corridor, and the way in which we sit right in the middle of that, we feel confident that we can meet the needs," said port director, Jonathan Daniels.

At Thursday's monthly board meeting director Daniels told commissioners the evaluation team looked at more than just facilities.

 "They don't only look at what's on site. They look at the rail connections, they look at the road connections, they look at all aspects of our operation, to make sure that we are able to meet their needs," he said.

One big positive for Gulfport is the port's proximity to military bases in South Mississippi.

"It was pretty nice to be able to stand up on the 14th floor while they're doing the evaluation and when we talk about proximity of facilities, we say alright, look out the back window. And everybody looks over at the Naval Construction Battalion. And that's the way we can show that we can be of great assistance to the military right off the bat," Daniels said.

Shipping military equipment through the Port of Gulfport makes even more sense when you look at where such shipments to and from the Seabee Base are currently handled.

"Considering that a lot of those materials in the past have moved through the Port of Beaumont, Texas, and Port Arthur, Texas. Meanwhile, we're two miles away. So certainly I think we stand in a very good position to be able to do that," said the port director.

Director Daniels said a draft report on strategic port designation is expected next June or July.

Camp Shelby is also considered an asset for future military shipments which may come through Gulfport. That National Guard training base could serve as a logistics center for moving military equipment.

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