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