State to take over former Naval Station Pascagoula on Friday

Published 3:37 pm Friday, June 1, 2007

The former Naval station at Singing River Island will again become the property of Mississippi at noon Friday and could be used by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems.

Secretary of State Eric Clark said in a news release Thursday that he is in negotiations with the company to lease a major part of the former Naval Station Pascagoula’s developed area.

The Base Realignment and Closure Commission voted in August 2005 to shut down the naval station after 14 years.

The Navy was expected to vacate the property last November, but Hurricane Katrina left the government with damaged buildings and a major mess to clean up.

The state gave the property to the Navy in the late 1980s with the understanding that it would automatically revert back to state control if the Navy stopped using it.

The Coast Guard already has a permanent presence on the island and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a base there temporarily until hurricane repairs are completed at its facility on the coast.

Northrop officials have said that a pier that was used by Navy vessels on the island is especially attractive to the shipbuilding company because it is shielded from the high seas and storm surge that battered Northrop vessels during Hurricane Katrina.

The shipbuilder is the state’s largest private employer.

The 437-acre island has 100 developed acres and another 100 that could be developed. The rest are wetlands that cannot be destroyed.

The property would be leased through the Jackson County Port Authority, the release said.