Navy Secretary Tours Pascagoula Homeport

Sailors on board the John L. Hall stood at attention as the Secretary of the Navy walked off their ship, and onto the USS Yorktown. Gordon England spent about three hours at Naval Station Pascagoula.

The Navy Secretary toured three of the six homeport vessels. He met the people who worked there. And he talked about America's war effort.

"I told the sailors and civilians here that this will be a very long effort," said England. "As the President said, this isn't removing a mole, it's removing a cancer."

After his homeport tour, Secretary England spent a few minutes with reporters. He reiterated the need for America to use its military might to defeat the likes of Osama Bin Laden. "We are determined as a nation to defeat worldwide terrorism," England said. "And we will stay the course, and we will be victorious."

Secretary England pointed out that while ships like the USS Ticonderoga homeported at Naval Station Pascagoula aren't part of the war effort right now, they still play a vital role in the military defense system.

According to England, "It's important we have a presence, a forward presence around the world of our naval forces, both our navy and our marine forces. That presence is very important, particularly now because this is worldwide terrorism."

The secretary said he was impressed with how the Pascagoula community supports the six homeport ships. He thought that would be an important variable in the homeport's favor, when base closure talks resume in 2005.

Secretary England was asked about Senator Trent Lott's plan to turn idle cruise ships at Northrup Grumman into navy command vessels. England said the idea was under consideration. But he felt it would be very difficult to justify the cost, because of the extensive ship modifications that would be required.