State to take over Singing River Island from Navy Monday

The U.S. Navy will formally hand over ownership of Singing River Island to the state of Mississippi on Monday.

The ceremony - which will be attended by Secretary of State Eric

Clark and Navy officials - will held on the island, where Naval

Station Pascagoula was located for 14 years. It housed 900 sailors

and provided a total annual economic impact of $100 million before

being closed Nov. 15 by the federal Base Realignment and Closure


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 437-acre island has 100 developed acres and another 100 that

could be developed. The rest are wetlands that cannot be destroyed.

Northrop Grumman Ship Systems has shown interest in the

property, including using the naval station's buildings and other

facilities to help the shipyard facilitate operations that were

damaged by Katrina.

The shipbuilder is the state's largest private employer.

The Naval Station Pascagoula Redevelopment Planning Authority,

comprised of county, city, industrial and other leaders, has worked

with Clark's office on reversion plans and possible uses.

"The island may be used for a combination of purposes,

including commercial fishing and also industrial, port and

government activities," Clark said Friday in statement.