The Mississippi Army National Guard and the Port of Gulfport are working together to transport military equipment and to highlight the port's capabilities when it comes to military logistics.
It's the first time the Army has used the port to move equipment since the port's achieved strategic designation status by the Department of Defense. The Navy has used the port in the past for their shipments.
During this mission, trucks, tanks and other equipment was loaded onto a huge container ship. It’s a very important on-the-job test to show the world why the Port of Gulfport is a viable option for the military.
"It's a very complicated process, but this is the proof of principle,” said Maj. Gen. Jason Boyle of the Miss. Army National Guard. "If we can show that the Army can use this port, then Camp Shelby can be used for training purposes, and they can move equipment in and out of here.
One of the big reasons why it is so important that the Army National Guard use the Port of Gulfport is logistics. Instead of shipping out from Hattiesburg and other places in Mississippi and having to go to Florida, Texas or somewhere else, they can load up at the Port of Gulfport for whatever deployment they have.
“There are business opportunities in the military just like in any private or commercial business,” Boyle added.
In this joint business venture, the Army’s 842nd Transportation Battalion is working with employees from the port, the state and the region to load equipment from Camp Shelby.
"The people driving the machines here are stevedores,” Hosemann said. “They're individual employees from the state of Mississippi who work here, pay taxes here, live in Gulfport or on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”
Hosemann added that it also saves about $200,000 a year in railroad transportation costs. For the 842nd, it's another key logistical option.
"It opens up possibilities,” said Lt. Col. Donald Santillo, 842nd commander. “Not only for contingency operations, but now we have an additional port that we can operate out of. But in the event of any kind of national disasters, it's another additional port we can utilize.”