The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Ocean Science and Technology, in conjunction with the Mississippi State Port Authority, has broken ground on a new Marine Research Center in Gulfport.

The $10 million structure, set to be completed in early 2018, will serve as the marine operations and research facility for the School of Ocean Science and Technology, and enhance and beautify the industrial “front door” of the Port of Gulfport.

Southern Mississippi announced earlier this year the creation of the School of Ocean Science and Technology.

“The groundbreaking for USM’s new Marine Research Center at the Port of Gulfport is an exciting step toward the enhancement of the University’s impressive R&D portfolio," says said Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant. "The facility will play a significant role in growing Mississippi’s Blue Economy, which is a strong economic driver for the Gulf Coast region and the entire state.”

The Marine Research Center will be an extension of the university's 135-foot vessel, the R/V Point Sur, which is the only oceanographic research vessel home ported in the northern Gulf of Mexico, east of the Mississippi River.

The two-story building will encompass nearly 18,000 square feet. Upon completion, it will be the principal marine operations and support facility for the university's oceanographic research efforts. The building will include administrative offices, classrooms, laboratories and storage areas.

The architect is Eley Guild Hardy Architects.