GULFPORT (WLOX) -- Even with the controversy surrounding MDA's plans to give $600 million dollars to the Port of Gulfport expansion, there are already new improvements.
Mariners can now get real time information on wind and water conditions at the port thanks to a new observation system.
"You can understand that having this system will greatly and vastly improve the safety of the transits coming in to Gulfport," said Rusty Hilson, a port employee.
The new technology is making it easier to measure wind speed and water currents at the Port of Gulfport.
"With the ability to know when the wind is blowing, where it's coming from, how strong the gusts will be. That is what the port system is going to do for us," Hilton said.
Leaders from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration introduced a new observation system to the coast. It's called the Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System or PORTS. The new technology is also getting the support from U.S. Senator Thad Cochran.
"Whether commercial vessels or recreational vessels, everyone using the port benefits from that," said U.S. Senator Thad Cochran.
Cochran helped appropriate $1 million additional dollars to help bring PORTS to Gulfport.
"This is going to improve the efficiency of the port. It's going to improve the safety of everybody that uses this area. Whether you're a recreational sailor or fisherman or you're driving one of these big ships in the port," Cochran said.
The Port of Gulfport is the nation's third busiest container port on the Gulf of Mexico, and the observation system will not only help local mariners, but it will also enhance local weather and and coastal marine forecasting.
"It's a dynamic step forward in technology. Being able to give not only what's going on above the water, but what's going on below water level and even sub-surface," said Don Allee, CEO of the Port of Gulfport.
Alee said it's technology that will help rebuild one of the most vital components of the coast's economy.
"Expansion is vital to any port. We don't want to become stagnant. We have not been stagnant. So stay tuned for the contained growth of the port of Gulfport," said Allee.