Hurricane Katrina nearly wiped out the Port of Gulfport. Thirteen years later, they will be cutting the ribbon Saturday to celebrate the completion of their $570 million expansion and restoration project.
Three hundred acres is the current size of the Port of Gulfport which is almost two times the size it was pre-Katrina. It has been a project since Katrina with most of the heavy lifting done just in the past five years. Port of Gulfport CEO Jonathan Daniels said, “We’ve had the opportunity to redo, we’ve had the opportunity to rebuild. Everything you see here is new. Through catastrophe came opportunity.”
If another storm like Katrina hits, the port is prepared. They are now operating 14 feet above sea level. This restoration project included 31 projects that came in under budget by $41 million. These projects included overall expansion, multiple new warehouse upgrades to now be one of 17 ports in the country that can handle military cargo. The most visible components are the three state of the art gantry cranes which were brought in from China. Crane manager Gary Pitcovich said, “These cranes have shown a vast increase in production. They’re safer and now this is truly the port of the future.”
These gantry cranes have a capacity of 120 long tons which can hold basically anything that comes into the Port of Gulfport.
Pitcovich says these cranes put the port on the map and makes for an exciting future. ‘”These are state of the art cranes. These are the same cranes you’ll see at major ports on the east side, the west side. Just seeing what we could accomplish in years past, you know what does the future hold for us. That’s what I’m excited to see and what my guys are excited to see. This is a world class port, right here in Gulfport.”
Since construction began, 557 jobs have been created and this number can grow with this completed expansion. A bigger and better operation can lead to more customers which can ultimately lead to more jobs for Coast residents.
While this phase may be complete, they are still thinking ahead to phase two.
If you would like more information on the restoration celebration this weekend visit shipmspa.com.