GULFPORT -- The state Port of Gulfport is now one of only 17 in the nation designated as a "strategic port" by the U.S. Department of Defense, opening the door for a new class of cargo and shipments.
The port has been working toward the designation for years.
Gulfport can now become a shipping point for military cargo and personnel, not only from the numerous military installations in South Mississippi, Executive Director Jonathan Daniels said, but also those within a 400-mile radius.
He said the port will be able to handle mobilizations and demobilizations of military personnel and equipment used in overseas operations.
The closest of the nation's 125-odd ports with the strategic designation are in Jacksonville, Fla.; Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas; and Charlotte, N.C.
Coast installations such as Keesler Air Force Base and the Naval Construction Battalion Center and Hattiesburg's Camp Shelby have been using ports in other states, because the Port of Gulfport lacked the strategic designation, Daniels said.