Committee Makes Case For Naval Station Pascagoula - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

07/22/05

Committee Makes Case For Naval Station Pascagoula

A Jackson County committee hopes its argument to keep Naval Station Pascagoula open was compelling enough to sway BRAC Commission members.

In June, the committee met with BRAC analysts and showed them why Naval Station Pascagoula is important to the Navy. Friday, they reiterated their case for the homeport.

"Naval Station Pascagoula is 600 miles from the Texas-Mexican border, 600 miles from the Yucatan Peninsula, and 600 miles from the Florida Keys," committee spokesperson Jim Brooks said.

Brooks believes that puts the homeport in the key spot for defending the Gulf of Mexico in case of an emergency.

"At the time when this threat to the homeland is becoming much more apparent and the U.S. Navy's role in addressing it is becoming clearer, we are removing the Navy's strategic presence from the Gulf of Mexico," Brooks said to the commission.

The only two naval stations in the Gulf are at Pascagoula and Ingleside in Texas and both are on the Pentagon's closure list.

"As you know more than anyone General, abandoning the Gulf of Mexico will create a big gap in the United States' national security and homeland defense capability," Representative Gene Taylor said.

Brooks also showed the BRAC commission how closing the naval station won't save taxpayers much money at all.

"The operating cost of Naval Station Pascagoula is less than $8 million a year. A small amount to maintain, retain, and grow the U.S. Navy's strategic anchor in the Gulf," Brooks added.

But was the argument enough to make the commissioner reconsider Naval Station Pascagoula's place on the BRAC list? Brooks thinks so.

"If you remove the two U.S. Navy homeports, then there's nothing there. That message had been portrayed in previous presentations and clearly the commission is thinking along the same lines," Brooks said after the presentation.

By Jaimee Goad

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