Stevedores Worried About Gulfport's East Pier

There's not a lot of work on the Port of Gulfport's east pier right now. Katrina's fury made sure of that. But longshoremen still have four container ships to unload each week. And in this post-Katrina world, Tim Parkman said four ships are better than the alternative.

"It's great to be working. We're making a paycheck," the 13 year longshoreman said.

According to a Gulfport Stevedoring Association ad that ran in Sunday's newspaper, longshoremen make a pretty good living. It says the average east pier dock worker makes $45.63 an hour. That's why the association wants to make sure that when east pier is rebuilt, it remains a pier for ships, and not a pier for casinos.

Larry Holloway has spent 31 years working on the docks.

"I don't want to see no change. I want it to be built back," the longshoreman said. "That's where we make our living at."

Yet, there are plans being considered that would move all container ship activity over to the west pier, so east pier can become more of an entertainment mecca and tie into downtown Gulfport's rebuilding plans.

"It's a plan. It's a consideration. And it came out of the charette process," said port director Don Allee.

However, Allee emphasized that right now, that's all it is -- a plan.

"It's planned use is for maritime commerce," he said. "So even though you look at opportunities or possibilities such as what came forward from the charette process, we still at the end of the day have a seaport to run."

And for now, four ships a week to unload -- with half of the ships docking on the east pier.

"I'm not against any type of activity. But just don't push everyone out to get to it," said Parkman.

The Port of Gulfport has its own master plan. In it, many of the facility's cargo ships move to the west pier. The master plan still uses east pier to load and ship lumber and other non-containerized products out of the port.