The Mississippi State Port Authority (at Gulfport) (MSPA) is responsible for operations at the Port of Gulfport. The Port of Gulfport is one of two of the 16 public ports in Mississippi that are owned and operated by the MSPA. The mission of the Mississippi State Port Authority at Gulfport is to provide a self-sufficient, profitable, and world-class terminal service for seaborne cargo and customers and to promote growth in international trade and economic growth in the State of Mississippi.
The Port of Gulfport is governed by the Board of Commissioners of the Mississippi State Port Authority, a five-member panel containing cross-section of representatives from the City of Gulfport (one representative), Harrison County (one representative), and three members appointed by the Governor.
Covering about 204 acres, the Port of Gulfport averages more than two million tons of bulk, breakbulk, and containerized cargo (in 200 thousand TEUs) a year. The Port of Gulfport is the third major container seaport on the United States shores on the Gulf of Mexico, and it is the country's second busiest importer of green fruit. In 2011, the Port of Gulfport handled over 2.2 million tons of cargo and more than 216 thousand TEUs of containerized cargo.
The traditional market for products moving to and from the Port of Gulfport is Central America. Primary cargo carriers that use the Port of Gulfport include the Great White Fleet (Chiquita) that serves Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala; Crowley Maritime serving Honduras and Guatemala; and Dole Fresh Fruit Company. Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) 92, the Gulfport/Biloxi Foreign Trade Zone is located near the custom's port of entry at the Port of Gulfport. Carriers can unload, exhibit, store, repackage, and manipulate goods in the FTZ.
The channel to the Port of Gulfport is about 250 meters (250 feet) wide with a depth of 11 meters (36 feet). The Port of Gulfport consists of the North Harbor at a depth of 9.8 meters (32 feet) and the South Harbor and Turning Basin with a depth of 11 meters (36 feet).
The Port of Gulfport contains a total of 1829 meters (6000 feet) with ten berths ranging from 160 to 228.6 meters (525 to 750 feet), including a roll-on/roll-off ramp. While most of the facilities are operated through leases or agreements with private operators, all of them are public piers. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, only nine of the ten berths were operational.
With both dockside and off-dock storage, the Port of Gulfport contained more than 9.2 acres of covered storage before Hurricane Katrina, and there are many privately-operated warehouses in the city that support cargo storage. The Port of Gulfport also contains a Container Freight Station and open storage for containers with reefer plug outlets. There is also a bulk material unloading system and open storage for bulk and breakbulk cargoes in the Port of Gulfport. There are two Gottwald mobile harbor cranes in the Port of Gulfport. Two stevedoring companies work for the Mississippi State Port Authority in the Port of Gulfport: Stevedoring Services of America and Ports America Group.
When Hurricane Katrina struck, it destroyed almost all of the 6.5 hectares (700 thousand square feet) of storage in the Port of Gulfport. While some 3.7 hectares have been rebuilt, the Port of Gulfport has a clear need for additional storage as its throughput continues to grow.
Hurricane Katrina caused serious damage to Port of Gulfport facilities in 2005. In rebuilding the port, the port authority has an opportunity to design a port of the future at the Port of Gulfport with increased capacity for one million TEUs of containerized cargo. The rebuild is expected to create about 2100 new jobs and to generate $1.6 billion in revenues to the local economy.
One hour after departing the Port of Gulfport, ships can be within international waters. Strategically located on the Gulf of Mexico, the deep-water Port of Gulfport is just 9.3 kilometers (five miles) from the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and only 25.7 kilometers (16 miles) from the shipping lanes. Trucks can easily reach three-quarters of the United States' consumer market, as the Port of Gulfport has direct access to US Route 49, and it is ten minutes from Interstate Highway 10.
Intermodal cargo transfers in the Port of Gulfport include vessel-to-vessel, vessel-to-rail, and vessel-to-truck transfer. Up to 45 truck lines serve the Port of Gulfport each day. Rail services are provided to the Port of Gulfport by CSX and Kansas City Southern Railways which provides access to Canadian National and the Illinois Central Railroad.
The Mississippi State Port Authority owns and operates the Port of Gulfport's West Pier Berth 6 to ship and receive both foreign and domestic containerized and conventional cargo and to receive mineral ore and other dry bulk cargoes. Port of Gulfport West Pier 6 has by two surface rail tracks serving two railcar-loading chutes that connect with the Kansas City Southern Railway. West Pier Berth 6 in the Port of Gulfport has over nine hectares of paved open storage at the rear of the berth. DuPont, the world's third largest chemical company, has four storage tanks with capacity for 95 thousand tons of ore located at the rear of the berth. The Port of Gulfport West Pier Berth 6 has berthing distance of 213.4 meters (740 feet) with alongside depth of 11 meters (36 feet) MLW.
The Mississippi State Port Authority owns and operates the Port of Gulfport's East Pier Berth 2 to ship and receive both foreign and domestic conventional general cargoes like steel products and lumber and to board passengers. Two surface rail tracks and three platform-level rail tracks are located at the transit sheds at the rear of the pier and connect with the Kansas City Southern Railway. Within Transit Shed No. 2, a 1300 square meter (14 thousand square foot) section is used as a passenger terminal. The Port of Gulfport East Pier Berth 2 has berthing distance of 213.4 meters (740 feet) with alongside depth of 9.8 meters (32 feet) MLW.
The Mississippi State Port Authority owns and operates the Port of Gulfport's East Pier Berth 3 to ship and receive both foreign and domestic conventional general cargoes like steel products and lumber. Two surface rail tracks on the apron, and one rail track in the center of the transit shed connects with the Kansas City Southern Railway. The faces of the east and west piers are parallel and form a 402.3-meter (1320-foot) wide harbor basin. The Port of Gulfport's East Pier Berth 3 has berthing distance of 213.4 meters (700 feet) and with alongside depth of 9.8 meters (32 feet) and 11 meters (36 feet) MLW.
The Mississippi State Port Authority owns and operates the Port of Gulfport's East Pier Berths 4 and 5 to ship and receive both foreign and domestic conventional general cargoes that include refrigerated and frozen foodstuffs. Two surface rail tracks on the apron and two platform-level tracks at the rear of the transit shed connect with the Kansas City Southern Railway. Divided into two sections by a firewall, the transit shed is used as a freezer. East Pier Berths 4 and 5 in the Port of Gulfport have total berthing distance of 335.3 meters (1100 feet) with alongside depth of 11 meters (36 feet) MLW.
The Mississippi State Port Authority at Gulfport owns the Commercial Small Craft Harbor Piers which it operates jointly with Boat Fresh Seafood to receive seafood and moor fishing vessels. These Port of Gulfport piers have berthing distance of 152.4 meters (500 feet) with alongside depths of 2.4 and 3.0 meters (8 and 10 feet) MLW.
The Mississippi State Port Authority at Gulfport owns the Commercial Small Craft Harbor Seafood and Transient Piers which it operates jointly with Sea King Seafood and the Gulfport Purchasing Company to receive seafood and to moor, fuel, and ice fishing vessels. Gulfport Purchasing Company has a fuel-oil pipeline from the wharf to a storage tank at the rear with capacity for 240 barrels, and it operates a hose for icing fishing vessels that connects the wharf to an ice plant at the rear of the pier. With alongside depths of 2.4 and 3.0 meters (8 and 10 feet) MLW, the Port of Gulfport Commercial Small Craft Harbor Seafood and Transient Piers have berthing distances of 164.6 meters (540 feet) and 48.8 meters (160 feet).
The United States Government owns, and the US Coast Guard operates the Gulfport Station Pier to moor and fuel Coast Guard Vessels. Additional space is available for vessels at a boathouse on the north side of the pier. This Port of Gulfport pier has two fuel-oil pipelines connecting the wharf with three storage tanks at the rear of the pier with total capacity for 100 barrels. The Gulfport Station Pier has berthing distances of 27.4 meters (90 feet) and 57.9 meters (190 feet), both with alongside depth of three meters (10 feet) MLW.
Cruising and Travel
With almost 11 kilometers (6.7 miles) of white sand Gulf of Mexico beaches and several gambling casinos, the Port of Gulfport is a popular tourist destination. The Port of Gulfport has hosted the "World's Largest Fishing Rodeo," the classic car celebration "Cruisin' the Coast," and speedboat races. In addition to gambling, the thriving residential community of the Port of Gulfport has a strong commercial center offering a variety of shopping and lodging options as well as historic homes and neighborhoods. Golfers and water sportsmen also visit the Port of Gulfport frequently.
The Port of Gulfport has a humid subtropical climate with hot humid summers, mild winters, and year-round precipitation. Temperatures range from an average high of °C (82°F) in July and August to an average low of °C (50°F) in December and January. Humidity levels range from a high of over 90% in the late summer to a low of about 82% in the winter. The Port of Gulfport is vulnerable to tropical storms and hurricanes.
Ship Island is an outdoor-lover's paradise about 18 kilometers (11 miles) off the coast. Visitors find an old fort, restrooms and showers, a covered picnic area with a snack bar, and a boardwalk. Visitors should expect lots of sun and heat, especially from June to August, and cannot take glass containers to this popular Port of Gulfport natural attraction. The Ship Island Ferry offers passengers one-hour passage from the Port of Gulfport to Ship Island at 9am and noon and from the island to the port at 2:30 and 5pm seven days a week from mid-May through mid-August. Round trip fares are $27 for adults and $17 for children aged three through ten, with discounts for seniors and active military.
The Port of Gulfport's Marine Life Oceanarium is an education and entertainment attraction with interactive exhibits, shows, train tours, and fun. Visitors will meet sea creatures like sea urchins, sea stars, and crabs in the Touchpool or find a shark tooth in the fossil dig. Presentations educate visitors about reptiles and birds. Bottlenose dolphins, Bo and Buster, love to meet visitors at the Dolphin Encounter. Reservations are required, as the Marine Life Oceanarium in the Port of Gulfport is open to the public on a limited basis. Visitors should call ahead to schedule a visit. Open for 9:30am and 1:30pm visits, admission to the Oceanarium is $8 for adults and $6 for children under 12.
The US National Park Service manages the Gulf Islands National Seashore located on the Gulf of Mexico barrier island of Mississippi and Florida and the Gulf Islands Wilderness in Mississippi. The area near the Port of Gulfport has natural beaches, bayous, wildlife sanctuaries, historic sites, and islands that can only be reached by boat. Within the Seashore, visitors will find nature trails, campgrounds, and picnic areas. The National Park Service insists that visitors adhere to the "Leave no trace" principles.