Posted on April 21, 2023
GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) – Wednesday was a big first step in a long journey to make the Port of Gulfport even more efficient and economically viable.
The Army Corps of Engineers signed an agreement with the Port of Gulfport to begin a years-long environmental and economic impact study into dredging the shipping channel into the Port of Gulfport.
“Our goal is to deepen it 10 feet,” said Jon Nass, CEO and executive director of the port. “Just 10 feet. What that means is more economic prosperity for the community. What that means is more efficient, larger vessels being able to call here at the Port of Gulfport. And really what it means is just 10 feet away from complementing the great expansion we did post-Katrina.”
The dredging would go the length of the channel from the port to Ship Island, which is about 18 miles.
“We’ve got a modern port,” Nass added. “But we need a deeper channel to be efficient to support the supply chain to get goods into Mississippi and to get goods out of Mississippi to be able to export more efficiently all around the world.”
Taking part in the ceremony was Michael Conner, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works.
His stop included a tour of the port.
“We want to continue to build capacity and strengthen our supply chains in our ports and harbors,” Conner said. “And this project in particular is just another example how we can do that. There’s a lot of opportunity here.”
David Eckles, vice president of operations for Ports America, said that’s why his terminal operator and stevedore company signed a lease agreement with the port in March.
“We’re not coming here for the status quo,” Eckles said. “We’re coming here to build the port of the future. So, dredging just 10 feet makes all the difference in the world so we can bring in bigger ships, which brings more scale, more jobs for the port and create the next gateway in the Gulf.”
The estimated $400 million project will be jointly funded by the federal government and the Port of Gulfport.
Realistically, it could take eight years before actual dredging could begin.