Cochran, Wicker and Palazzo support Navy plan to locate Seabee batallion in Gulfport

Thad Cochran

Thad Cochran

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and U.S. Representative Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), today said they support a U.S. Navy plan to station additional personnel at the Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport this year.

The Navy has informed the Mississippi lawmakers of its intent to relocate the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 14 (NMCB) to Gulfport, effective Oct. 1, to enhance and standardize skills and readiness training to support the Naval Construction Force. The permanent duty station plan is expected to affect a dozen officer and enlisted billets, with an estimated annual payroll of more than $1.0 million. The plan would also involve 31 officer and 546 enlisted selected reserve personnel.

“The Navy’s consolidation plans are increasing the Seabee presence in Mississippi,” said Cochran, vice chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. “The Seabees have a long and respected history, and I’m pleased that Gulfport will host additional personnel to advance the Navy’s naval construction missions.”

“Mississippi’s Seabee battalions have proven invaluable to our national security and image abroad,” said Wicker, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “The Navy’s announcement bolsters that tradition and solidifies the strategic importance of Gulfport. Further, the relocation of these key naval personnel underscores Mississippi’s ability to support our naval forces and military readiness.”

“Gulfport has proven an exceptional value for the Navy from the time the first Construction Battalion began operating here in 1942,” said Palazzo, a Marine veteran and member of the House Armed Services Committee. “This announcement is welcome news for the Gulfport Seabee family, and for the entire South Mississippi military community.”

The NMCB specializes in general engineering and limited combat engineering capabilities. It conducts engineering operations in support of combat operations, in addition to disaster recovery operations and contingency public works support during emergencies.

Last October, the Navy announced its plan to transfer two officer billets and 17 enlisted billets from the SEVENTH Naval Construction Regiment to Gulfport, as well as one officer billet and another 11 enlisted billets from the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion TWENTY SEVEN. These personnel moves are also expected to be effective Oct. 1.

The Gulfport base’s ability to support additional personnel has been enhanced by the recent construction of a new medical clinic, which was funded through $34.7 million in FY2012 military construction appropriations supported by Cochran, Wicker and Palazzo. Cochran first raised awareness of the need for a new clinic during the FY2011 budget cycle and advocated for military construction then.

Seabee and Navy facilities at Gulfport and the Stennis Space Center were also improved through more than $277 million that Cochran worked to secure to rebuild facilities following Hurricane Katrina. Another $131.7 million was provided for Navy housing at Gulfport, Stennis and the Naval Air Station at Meridian.

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