Naval Station Pascagoula
A disestablishment ceremony was held on Sept. 29, 2006 to formally commemorate the closure of Naval Station Pascagoula, after 14 years of service. Special guest speakers included Capt. Matthew Schellhorn, chief of staff, Commander, Navy Region Southeast and the Mississippi Secretary of State Eric Clark. Naval Station Pascagoula officially closed Nov. 15, 2006, at which point it transitioned to the State of Mississippi for economic redevelopment.
Naval Station Pascagoula, Mississippi is located on the mainland side of Mississippi Sound in the northeast portion of the Gulf of Mexico. The Port of Pascagoula is an important deep water port in the Gulf region. Naval Station Pascagoula occupies 187 acres of Singing River Island, which is located in the Mississippi Sound at the mouth of the Singing (née Pascagoula) River. In the 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to close the naval station (see below for details).
This 437 acre island is man-made, having been created over the years as dredge materials from the Pascagoula federal channel and nearby Ingalls Shipbuilding were deposited in the area. In the early 1980s Congress approved the strategic homeporting initiative to build additional bases and disperse the fleet from the main concentration areas, and in 1985 Naval Station Pascagoula was created when the Navy selected the Singing River Island location as one of the new Gulf Coast strategic homeport sites. Base construction began in 1988, and the station became an operational homeport of Perry Class guided missile frigates in 1992 with the arrival of the first ship, USS Gallery (FFG 26).
Naval Station Pascagoula's support mission increased dramatically in subsequent years due to a variety of actions: the BRAC-93 realignment of ships and other units from closing or downsized bases; the reorganization of the Naval Surface Force, Atlantic, which homeported Ticonderoga Class AEGIS guided missile cruisers in Pascagoula; and the relocation to Naval Station of both the Pascagoula Coast Guard Station and a Reliance Class (210') Coast Guard cutter.
Naval Station Pascagoula provides support to the Navy community at large in a variety of ways, most notably through the Fleet and Family Support Center, the Housing Referral Office, and the Morale Welfare and Recreation Department. Support is provided not only to personnel stationed onboard the Naval Station or homeported ships, but also to pre-commissioning crews of surface combatant ships that are constructed at Ingalls Shipbuilding. In that regard, beginning in FY99 Naval Station assumed ownership and operating responsibility for the "Lakeside" Naval Support Facility, which is located within the city of Pascagoula approximately 10 miles from the main base, and which provides berthing primarily for the pre-commissioning crews.
Waterfront support infrastructure at Naval Station Pascagoula includes a 680' double deck pier (utilities on lower deck; upper deck free for operational support), two quayside berths, and the full range of services for "cold iron" support of homeported and visiting ships. Ship maintenance and repair support is available from the Navy's Shore Intermediate Maintenance Activity (SIMA), or by contract (there are 17 major shipyards/marine contractors located along the Gulf Coast between New Orleans, LA, and Panama City, FL).
Naval Station Pascagoula epitomizes the "clean sheet" design for a modern naval station, and is a model of environmental responsibility. The men and women stationed here live throughout the surrounding communities where they participate with their neighbors in all facets of community life - religious, social and civic. The Mississippi Gulf Coast has a long tradition of supporting our nation's defense, and Naval Station Pascagoula is proud to serve alongside.
Naval Station Pascagoula is located on the north side of small, man-made Singing River Island. The island is situated just south of Ingalls Shipyard and southwest of the main port at Pascagoula. Access to the port from the open Gulf is gained via the Horn Island Pass Channel. The channel passes through dredged cuts between the extreme eastern limit of the water area between the east end of Horn Island and the western end of Petit Bois Island. From there the 350-ft wide channel proceeds north and northwest, as Pascagoula Channel, about 9 nmi to Pascagoula and the Naval Station. The federal project depth of the channel is 40 ft in the Horn Island Pass Channel, and 38 ft in Mississippi Sound . However, Department of Commerce Chart 11373, 31st edition dated October 24, 1987 lists controlling depths from seaward in Pascagoula channel as 30 ft in the left outside quarter of the channel to 34.4 ft in the right outside quarter. Channel depth from the main ship channel to the Naval station is not specified. Outside the channel, Mississippi Sound is relatively shallow at the south end, ranging from 12 to 20 ft, and very shallow, as little as 2 to 4 ft, at the north end near Pascagoula. The land on which the Naval Station is constructed is only about 2 or 3 ft above sea level. The surrounding terrain is also low in elevation. The only access to/from Singing River Island and the mainland is via a 14 ft high, 3-mile long causeway.
The Naval Station has a single pier which extends north-northeastward from the north side of Singing River Island. The pier, with a length of 680 ft. and a width of 80 ft. has two levels. Ship services are available from the lower level. Nesting will be required if more than two of the frigates assigned to Naval Station Pascagoula are in port at the same time. Additional moorage space for smaller vessels is provided at the quays along the shore at the south end of the pier.
Weather permitting, deep draft vessels may anchor 1 to 2 miles south or southeast of the sea buoy. Anchorage for vessels with up to 15 ft draft is available in Mississippi Sound east of the channel.
The Port of Pascagoula is equipped with extensive large and small ship repair facilities. Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation has a floating drydock with a depth of 41 feet over the keel blocks, a lifting capacity of 38,000 tons, and can handle vessels up to 820 ft long and 170 ft wide. It also has a graving dock 485 ft long and 85 ft wide, with a depth of 35.8 ft over the keel blocks. Other facilities include cranes with up to 60-ton capacities at the outfitting piers, floating cranes, and tugs with up to 4,200 hp.
Currently there is no military housing available in Pascagoula, MS. OPNAVINST 11101.21 directs all military personnel to report through the Housing Referral Office prior to negotiating any agreement for community housing. This service was established to assist individuals in locating suitable non-discriminatory housing within a reasonable price range and to advise service members in advance of those places where occupancy by military personnel is not authorized or recommended.
Rental policies in the Pascagoula area are similar to those elsewhere in the United States. A security deposit of approximately one month's rent is required before move-in or at the time a contract is signed. Some landlords require the first and last month's rent in advance, in which case the security deposit is either decreased or not required. Additional deposits for pets could also be added. All rents are due at the beginning of the rental period and late fees should be stipulated in the contract. If the landlord desires a lease for a fixed time period, a military clause should be in the contract to release the service member in case of military orders.
Listings are also maintained on temporary accommodations for occupancy during house hunting trips or for brief periods. Motels, trailers, efficiencies, and apartments are available for weekly or monthly rentals, including utilities.
The hurricane season poses a serious threat to Naval Station Pascagoula. During the 107-year period from 1886-1992, an average of one tropical cyclone or hurricane has passed within 180 NM of Pascagoula each year. The area is susceptible to storm surge, with water elevations of over six feet being recorded four times during the period of 1909 through 1969. One event on record resulted in a water elevation of 11.2 feet above mean sea level.
The hurricane season for Pascagoula is from 1 June through 30 November, with September being the major threat month. The principal threat is from tropical cyclones approaching from the southwest, south, and southeast. When storms of record were at their closest point of approach to Pascagoula, their average monthly direction of movement varied from 341 T to 025 T, with an overall average direction of movement being 005 T.
Pascagoula is not a hurricane haven. Early threat assessment is essential. Limited evasion options dictate that sortie be initiated soon after Tropical cyclone Condition III is set. Current plans call for the evacuation of all hands during hurricane threat, commencing with the setting of Tropical Cyclone Condition III. Evacuation rationale is based on the low elevation of Singing River Island and the Naval Station, susceptibility of the Mississippi Sound area to storm surge which could inundate the Naval Station as well as the causeway to/from the Naval Station, the absence of sheltered anchorages, narrow channels cut through shallow bay waters vulnerable to blockage if a ship should sink or go hard aground during a storm, and the always present danger of damage from other vessels that may break loose from their moorings at the Port of Pascagoula, Ingalls Shipbuilding or other locations near Pascagoula during strong winds.
During the hurricane season, 01 June -30 November, when high winds and severe weather conditions are most frequently experienced, all ships must be extremely weather conscious and take necessary precautions as a matter of routine. This applies particularly to the security of ships moored or berthed in nests and to the safety of ship's boats. Guidance for heavy weather operations is included in references (a) through (d) and other traditional Naval/Seamanship publications. While the following precautions are by no means all inclusive, they are considered of sufficient importance to stress herein.
Ships will fuel to 85% capacity within 24 hours of returning to port during hurricane season. Likewise, the topping off of potable water tanks is recommended.
Current directives have eased the number of personnel required onboard to less than a full steaming watch. Thus, prudent judgment must be exercised by the Commanding Officer in allowing personnel to go ashore on liberty when hazardous weather is forecast. The Commanding Officer should not be reluctant to reduce the number of duty sections on liberty, the number of duty sections, the size of the liberty party, the expiration of liberty or any combination of the above to ensure the safety of his ship. The Personnel Recall Bill must be up-to-date and reliable. Drills to test the effectiveness of the recall bill will be periodically conducted. There will be onboard an Officer of the Deck (underway) and an engineering Officer of the Watch who are qualified in all respects to take the ship to sea in the case of an emergency sorties.
The decision to sortie will be promulgated by SOPA Pascagoula after carefully considering the strength, location, and track of the topical cyclone, after coordination with the COMNAVSURFGRU TWO. Due to Pascagoula's location, any decision to sortie will be made 72 to 96 hours in advance of the storm. All units must be ready to begin sortie preparations at short notice.
Mooring lines must be in good condition to withstand the strain imposed by heavy winds. Badly frayed or spliced lines will invariably part. Spring and bow lines must be doubled up with at least three standing parts, and the slack must be kept out of liens to allow for an even strain on all lines. Nylon lines are preferred to wire lines. It is recommended that when nylon and wire are both used that the strain be on the nylon with the wire containing slight slack, but acting as a back-up. Such lines must be tended constantly as nylon tends to stretch. All lines must have adequate chafing gear. Additional mooring lines should be readily available to replace weekend or parted lines. The above conditions generally apply when nylon and Aramid (KEVLAR) lines are used together.
In so far as possible nesting should be restricted to ships of the same hull forma and limited to two ships. Ships moored together in heavy weather usually sustain damage to side plating in the region of contact. Vulnerability to this type of damage reaches a maximum under conditions wherein the wind and sea are approximately at right angles to each other. The resultant forces will usually cause the nest to ride to the wind while the seas will produce rolling and surging between the ships in the nest. Damage in this situation is aggravated when mooring lines are slack and ships are permitted to separate by several feet and then crash together. Damage can be prevented or kept to a minimum when mooring lines are tended and kept taut. Fenders should be in good condition, since a fender which is worn and crushed flat has little shock absorbing value. They should be placed in the way of main transverse bulkheads if possible, or abreast of the strongest frames. This is especially true of smaller ships. Fenders must be adjusted to obtain best results and not be merely rigged once and forgotten. Additional fenders or jury rigged fenders should be available to replace those worn our by chafing and crushing during a storm. Fenders rigged along upper decks may help to prevent damage to superstructure.
Secretary of Defense Recommendations: Close Naval Station Pascagoula, MS. Relocate its ships along with dedicated personnel, equipment, and support to Naval Station Mayport, FL. Relocate the ship intermediate repair function to Shore Intermediate Maintenance Activity Mayport, FL.
The total estimated one-time cost to the Department of Defense to implement this recommendation would be $17.9M. The net of all costs and savings to the Department during the implementation period would be a savings of $220.0M. Annual recurring savings to the Department after implementation would be $47.4M with an immediate payback expected. The net present value of the costs and savings to the Department over 20 years would be a savings of $665.7M. This recommendation indicates impacts of costs at the installations involved, which reported $0.02M in costs for waste management and environmental compliance. These costs were included in the payback calculation. Assuming no economic recovery, DoD estimated that this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 1,762 jobs (963 direct jobs and 799 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Pascagoula, MS, Metropolitan Statistical Area, which would be 2.6 percent of economic area employment.
Secretary of Defense Justifications: This recommendation would affect the U.S. Coast Guard, a non-DoD Federal Agency. In the absence of access to credible cost and savings information for that agency or knowledge regarding whether the agency would remain on the installation, the Department assumed that the non-DoD Federal agency would be required to assume new base operating responsibilities on the affected installation. The Department further assumed that because of these new base-operating responsibilities, the effect of the recommendation on the non-DoD agency would be an increase in its costs. As required by Section 2913(d) of the BRAC statute, the Department had taken the effect on the costs of this agency into account when making this recommendation.
This recommendation will reduce excess berthing capacity while allowing for consolidation of surface ships in a fleet concentration area. Sufficient capacity and fleet dispersal is maintained with East Coast surface fleet homeports of Naval Station Norfolk and Naval Station Mayport, FL. Gulf Coast presence can be achieved as needed with available Navy ports at Naval Air Station Key West, FL, and Naval Air Station Pensacola, FL. The Guided Missile Cruisers (CG-47 Class) at Naval Station Pascagoula are scheduled for decommissioning prior to FY 2006 and will not relocate. This recommendation also supports mission elimination at Shore Intermediate Maintenance Activity Pascagoula and reduces excess repair capacity. The Defense Common Ground Station-Navy 2 facility can be relocated to another Naval activity or remain in its present location as a tenant of the US Coast Guard, if the Coast Guard elects to assume property ownership of some or all of the Pascagoula facility.
Community Concerns: Community advocates, criticized what they regard as DoD's built-in bias in favor of mega-bases (fleet concentrations) during calculations of excess capacity and overall military value; DoD failed to fully consider the importance of the base's secure and cost-effective design in supporting DoD's emerging role in Homeland defense and security; strategic cost of losing a permanent Navy homeport on the Gulf of Mexico; and degradation of DoD's ability to defend against threats to maritime approaches and regional infrastructure. They noted that while some bases seem to have been recommended for closure because they are old or too costly to maintain and recapitalize, Naval Station Pascagoula appears to have been penalized for being one of the Navy's newest, best designed installations. They claimed DoD's proposal would unfairly burden the local hotel market and will not result in actual budget savings because most of the annual savings would result from eliminating military personnel without reducing end strength.
Commission Findings:The Commission found no reason to disagree with the recommendation of the Secretary of Defense, as reuniting these isolated ships with the rest of the fleet will enhance military value and achieve cost savings by eliminating excess capacity. None of the issues raised by the community rose to the level of a substantial deviation.
Commission Recommendations The Commission found the Secretary's recommendation consistent with the final selection criteria and the Force Structure Plan. Therefore, the Commission approves the recommendation of the Secretary.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|