Singing River Island now belongs to the state, again

Published 6:47 pm Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The state of Mississippi has formally taken control of Singing River Island, a prime piece of industrial property on a deep-water port on the Gulf Coast.

Economic development officials have been shopping around for businesses to locate on the island for months and those efforts are expected to continue. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, the state’s largest private employer, has expressed an interest in using some areas of the island for its operations.

Secretary of State Eric Clark represented the state Monday during a ceremony in which ownership of the 437-acre island was transferred from the Navy. Jimmy Anderson, director of the federal Base Realignment and Closure Committee’s program management office, presented Clark with the Naval papers signifying the transfer.

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The island was home to Naval Station Pascagoula for 14 years. It housed 900 sailors and provided a total annual economic impact of $100 million before being closed Nov. 15 by the BRAC commission.

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.

The island consists of approximately 437 acres, with about 187 acres comprising the developed area of the island, Clark said. There are some additional 150 acres of developable property.

Northrop Grumman Ship Systems officials have said they’re interested in using the naval station’s buildings and other facilities to help the shipyard facilitate operations that were damaged by Katrina.