Northrop signs lease for Singing River Island

Published 6:22 pm Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Northrop Grumman Ship Systems has signed a five-year lease agreement with the state to use a portion of Singing River Island, which was once home to Naval Station Pascagoula, Secretary of State Eric Clark said Monday.

The Navy provided a major economic boon to the county and officials have been looking for companies to lease the island to soften the blow of the Navy’s recent departure.

Economic development officials have said several companies expressed an interest in Singing River Island, which is considered a prime piece of industrial real estate due to its deep-water port. Financial details of the Northrop Grumman lease were not disclosed.

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“We are excited that Northrop Grumman has entered into an agreement to occupy parts of Singing River Island,” Clark said in a news release. “Not only will Northrop Grumman benefit from the agreement, but the citizens of Jackson County as well.

Northrop Grumman Ship Systems already has a major presence nearby in Pascagoula with its Ingalls Shipyard. Under the terms of the lease, the company will occupy more than 207,000 square feet of space in 17 buildings formerly used by the Navy, officials said. Approximately 360 Northrop employees will work on the site.

“We look forward to a successful transition into our new office spaces,” said Philip Teel, president of Northrop Grumman Ship Systems.

The 437-acre man-made island is composed of dredged soils from the Pascagoula River and is connected to the West Bank by a bridge.

The island was leased by the Navy in 1985 as a home port. The lease terms stated that if the Navy was to abandon the home port, the island would revert to state control.

The Navy formally closed the home port in November 2006. After making repairs to several facilities on the island, the Navy turned the island over to Mississippi last June.

The Naval Station included about 187 acres and 35 structures, ranging from a two-story administrative building to a guard shack and barracks that housed Navy personnel during the 14 years the island was used as a home port.

The FBI and NOAA operate temporary offices on the island, but plan to move back to Pascagoula once offices there are renovated.

The Coast Guard expects to be a permanent tenant on the island. In addition to a local search and rescue group, the Coast Guard home-ports three deepwater cutters.