Seabees break ground for more new construction

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX)-Gulfport Seabees broke ground Friday on a new meteorology and oceanography training center.

The nearly nine million dollar project is the latest in a series of large construction projects.  And all that new construction is helping secure the long term future of the Gulfport base.

"This is a fantastic facility. It does continue to take this base to the place that we want it to be," said Seabee commander, Captain Ed Brown as he spoke at the ceremony.

The ground breaking is for a facility that will train meteorologists. The rear admiral who heads that command says the role of military weather people should never be underestimated.

"If you think back to World War Two and D-Day, it turned out the most critical part of that landing was getting the forecast right. Which day would we land? We got it right and the Germans didn't. And as they say, the rest is history," said Rear Admiral David Titley.

More recent history delayed the start of this project.

"There have been a few historic events that have impacted things. You may recall nine eleven and Hurricane Katrina that have tended to shift the priorities here," said Frank Shank, the commanding officer of the new center.

The start of the building adds to a growing list of projects already underway on base, construction totaling more than $300 million.

"For us on the base, one of the best parts about this is it's expanding the footprint of the base, expanding our other tenant commands that are on this base. Continues to make it more and more important to the Navy," said Capt. Brown.

"Now we're starting to bring some of these buildings on line. You can see behind me right now, we've got our new gym coming on line. We have a new barracks facility that's going on. We have another 200 housing units that are being built here on the base," he said.

In this age of cutbacks and base closures, all that new construction enhances the base's long term security.

"We have come from a small logistics base and a small Seabee base to a real important installation for the United States Navy," said commander Brown.

The ground breaking was supposed to be Thursday. But it was cold and miserable outside. So the running joke at Friday's ceremony was the fact that "bad weather" delayed the start of the meteorology training center.