Keesler Air Force Base is making an effort to become more secure on the waterfront. They are doing this by adding clear signage to its restricted area on Biloxi's Back Bay.
Fifteen buoys marked in bold text that says "Restricted Area" are being placed in the Back Bay along the shoreline. The base is working together with the Department of Marine Resources to make this project happen.
With each buoy dropped, the restricted waters just to the north of Keesler Air Force Base became more clearly marked. Before, there wasn't much that would keep a passing boat from entering the restricted space.
"It's always important. It allows people to know where they can and can't go at times and as we elevate a higher sense of security. We're able to know if somebody's coming on base that has no purpose of being on here," said Jonathon Murray, Commander of the 81st Security Forces Squadron.
Murray's team volunteered to help make the installation of these buoys possible. But he says the process of delivering the buoys to their locations is the result of about two years of hard work between multiple agencies, including DMR.
"We've had to coordinate with DMR to actually get out here and GPS locate every single spot for all 15 of the buoys as it's important to make sure the demarcation is exactly where it needs to be," said Murray.
The buoys are now in their permanent spots, about 150 feet from the shoreline and about 150 feet apart. Murray said Keesler's property includes about two miles of waterfront land, and that can sometimes be a challenge to keep an eye on.
"In order for us to effectively patrol that and effectively control that, we need DMR support. So this is just another example of great community partnership between both the state of Mississippi, DMR, and the base and the department of defense," said Murray.
Now, with clearer signage, he hopes boaters will do the right thing and stay out.
"For the base, it's highly important as we enter an area where we're trying to heighten the security of the base in order to protect the base and the population to let everybody know where the base boundaries are," said Murray. "When we look at how do we secure bases, it really requires a whole village concept from the state, federal, and local."
Boaters will not be allowed beyond the buoys that are placed 150 feet away from the shoreline. This project took nearly two years of research and preparation to get the buoys in the water.