Gulfport, Miss. (WXXV) – Today, for the first time ever, the U.S. Army is shipping military vehicles out of the Port of Gulfport.
“The story today is that instead of using another port in Texas or South Carolina or Florida, the Army has decided to use this port to move this unit to their next destination.” Major General Jansen D. Boyles tells News 25 the decision to make the Port of Gulfport a strategic port was in the works for over two years. Currently there are only 17 other ports nationwide serving the same purpose. “It feels great because the proposition was that we didn’t know what the outcome would be when we first approached SDDC about using this port and to their credit they jumped right on board.”
The first mission of the Port of Gulfport will be transporting military vehicles aboard a commercial ship. Lt. Col. Donald Santillo said, “Although it’s our first mission, we started the planning for this probably about six months ago. So, we did have initial coordination and planned what areas we were going to stage the equipment.”
Officials say over 40 local contractors are working on the mission to load up the ship that can hold up to five football fields worth of equipment. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said, “These are our people that are moving this one the ship here and they’re all hired by the federal government and the National Guard to do that work.”
Although the manpower fulfilling the mission is coming from Mississippi, the strategic port can also be used for military purposes by all the surrounding states. “This port not only serves Mississippi, but it can serve Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Alabama.”
The Port of Gulfport will now have the opportunity to compete for Army business with other nearby ports. “It’s an economic engine for the state and it’s a result of a lot of hard work for a lot of years and I’m real proud of all of them.”