There was a story during the week in Mississippi that was picked up by the Associated Press about the concern in South Mississippi over a future round of base closings and realignments.
The story said that officials are gearing up to defend the bases: Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, the Navy's activities at NASA's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis and the National Guard's Trent Lott Training Complex in Gulfport and Camp Shelby to the north near Hattiesburg. They are all valuable facilities with unique missions.
But the story had information that made me grimace, and I hope the folks who are trying to protect the bases don't use it as part of the argument. The story said there are 750 companies in the three coastal counties, Harrison, Hancock and Jackson, that have had Department of Defense contracts. It said 321 contracts worth more than $1 billion were awarded in 2014 alone to companies in the three counties. That's true, but to connect this to the presence of the bases is misleading.
The vast majority of the money, $968 million, awarded in 2014 to companies in those three counties went to contractrors in just one county, Jackson County. And of that amount, $906 million was awarded to Huntington Ingalls, builder of expensive, massive ships for the Navy and Coast Guard. The bases in South Mississippi had nothing to do with the awarding of that money.
And there's another point to consider. Of the remaining amount awarded to companies in the three counties, a lot of it is for work outside of South Mississippi. True, the money awarded to South Mississippi companies benefits the local economy, but to make the connection to the local bases is a fallacy and detracts from the argument for keeping the bases.
What I don't know is if this is part of the argument South Mississippi officials plan to use or if the reporter simply put in the additional information about contracts to show the value of military spending to South Mississippi. I would hope it's the latter.
Now for your week in review:
Last week we went to see the movie "The Martian," in part because I've been a space nut since I was a kid and watched our early efforts in space. I've come to expect us to be the leader in exploring the final frontier.
NASA's Space Launch System program, which is the space agency's effort to send astronauts deeper into space then ever before, recently reached a major milestone when it completed its Critical Design Review.
This is the first time since the 1970s that NASA has completed CDR on a major new launch vehicle. Major subsystems such as Orion’s launch abort system and the SLS RS-25 engines have recently completed successful testing. Experts from NASA and industry validated that the SLS, as designed, meets all system requirements and is within cost and schedule constraints. It's a way of giving a "go" for production, assembly, integration and testing of the vehicle as a whole.
Boeing, Orbital ATK, Aerojet Rocketdyne and Lockheed Martin are building the SLS and Orion spacecraft for NASA’s crewed exploration missions that will travel beyond the moon and into deep space. And our region is a major player.
Boeing and Lockheed are using Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans to build the SLS core stage and Orion, respectively, and Aerojet Rocketdyne is using engine test facilities at Stennis Space Center, Miss., for the RS-25 tests. (Post)
Workers in Moss Point, Miss., are currently building the fuselages for Global Hawks that will be going to South Korea. Northrop Grumman will deliver the first pair of South Korea's four RQ-4B Block 30 Global Hawks in 2018. The second pair will be delivered in 2019. South Korea's $657 million acquisition of the Global Hawks was announced in December 2014. (Post)
Naval Air Station Whiting Field has been named one of two Navy Region Southeast nominees for Commander Navy Installation Command's national "Installation Excellence Award" in the small base category for 2015. The Santa Rosa base, along with NAS Pensacola, was CNIC's excellence award winner last year. The second base selected was Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga. (Post)
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded two contracts during the week that are of interest to the Gulf Coast region. It was awarded a $13 million modification to exercise the option on a previously awarded contract for F-22 air vehicle sustainment. Work will be performed at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and is expected to be complete by Dec. 31, 2015. The company also was awarded a $7.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract. It will provide F-22 sustainment for Reliability and Maintainability Maturation Program Project SE21, Stores Management System wrap around tester cable sets (quantity of 20) and self testers (quantity of 2). Work will be performed at Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be complete by Nov. 30, 2017. Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., is home of F-22 training and an operational squadron. … Jacobs Technology Inc., Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded a $45 million modification to a contract for global logistics and support services to the Army Sustainment Command Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) and Army Contracting Command-Rock Island (ACC- RI) LOGCAP and Reachback Divisions. Funding and work location will be determined with each order with an estimated completion date of Oct. 20, 2016. … L-3 Communications Corp., Systems Field Support, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $12 million modification to exercise the option on a previously awarded contract for C-12 contractor logistics support. Work will be performed in Maryland, California, Alaska, New Mexico, Texas, Ghana, Turkey, Thailand, Columbia, Brazil, Hungary, Argentina, Egypt, Botswana, Pakistan, the Philippines, Kenya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Honduras, and Japan and is expected to be complete by March 31, 2016.