Coast Guard commandant visits ERDC

Published 12:16 pm Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Coast Guard’s top admiral visited the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineering Research and Development Center Wednesday to get a close look at the facility’s storm surge, river models and operation.

He was accompanied by U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.

“This is where (the Coast Guard) can get smarter on natural disasters,” Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft said. “Right now, we’re in the teeth of hurricane season so the work they do, and bringing the Coast Guard here makes us much better prepared for these worst case scenarios.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“Here they do all the modeling of the worst case scenarios (for storms) and the point is to see the difference between the (storm) category and the storm surge are completely different, and (to see) are we better prepared today than we were 10 years ago for Katrina, and the answer is, with the work being done here, absolutely.”

ERDC director Dr. Jeff Holland said the Coast Guard is a good partner for ERDC.

“We share an enormous amount of common interests (and) the applications of our technology are very similar between the Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard in many, many ways. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get to talk about things of very common interest to the nation from the standpoint of commercial navigation and the standpoint of homeland security.

The Coast Guard has a station at the Port of Vicksburg with the cutter Kickapoo, responsible for maintaining the channel in the Mississippi River.

“Our biggest responsibility here is aid to navigation,” Zukunft said. “This (the Mississippi) is a major thoroughfare which helps commerce so right now we’re able to meet those requirements with the forces we have now.”

“The river is important to Vicksburg, and anytime you can have the commandant of the Coast Guard to come (it is a plus),” Thompson said.

He said Zukunft met with Port of Vicksburg Port Director Wayne Mansfield at lunch and discussed projects in and around the port, “and how the river is a vital part of Vicksburg’s and Warren County’s economy.”

He said the visit to ERDC was designed “to show the good work that ERDC is doing in navigational awareness in terms of bridges along the river.

“We’re continuing to demonstrate the excellent work the people at ERDC are doing on a daily basis, and so much of it is tied to homeland security and the other part is tied to the economic health of this country because if our river becomes impassable for any reason, we have a problem,” Thompson said.

“The Coast Guard is an integral part of homeland security as it relates to our rivers and stream in this country, and no better place to come than to this area.”


About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

email author More by John