July Meeting — “Sunny Point” and the Buffer Zone

Monday, July 15, 2019   7:30 PM

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, July 15, 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

What exactly is “Sunny Point?”  Why do we have a “Buffer Zone?”

A member of the US Army Command Staff at the Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point (MOTSU) will join us to talk about the major international port that lies quietly across the Cape Fear River in Brunswick County.

Questions will also be answered about what the Buffer Zone does on this side of the river.

The 16,000 acre (25 sq. mile) facility is bordered on both the east and south by the Cape Fear River and on the west by South East River Road. The northern border of Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point is marked by Orton Pond and the Brunswick Town State Historic Site, a major pre Revolutionary War era colonial port. The topography of the installation is heavily wooded and removed from populous urban areas. The base has several bodies of water within its borders including Governors Creek, Fishing Creek, the Cape Fear River and several small ponds. The coastal area of North Carolina where MOTSU is located, is classified as humid subtropical and generally experiences year round warm weather. The coast is prone to flooding with storm surges and is occasionally battered by Atlantic storms and hurricanes.

The area around Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point has been used as a strategic shipping and military hub since 1725 when then colonial governor, George Burrington, operated a plantation and small dock on the Cape Fear River.

In the pre-Revolutionary War era, the coastal area was used as a strategic point for British troops and merchants and then by Colonial forces. During the Civil War, the area served as a Confederate artillery battery protecting the Cape Fear River from Union naval forces. During this time its potential as an ammunition transportation point was realized due to its remote location, deep water, ocean access and predictable tides.

The Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point as it exists today, was established in 1955 by the Department of The Army. In every armed conflict since its creation MOTSU has played a role in supporting deployed units. During the Gulf War operations of Desert Shield, Desert Sortie and Desert Storm the Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point was tasked with handling over 90% of the resupply munitions for US forces. This task included everything from small arms ammunition up to 750 pound M 117 bombs.

The primary mission of the Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point to be the key ammunition shipping point on the Atlantic coast for United States forces worldwide.

Under command of the 1303rd Major Port Command and 596th Transportation Brigade, the Sunny Point Terminal is tasked with storing and shipping Department of Defense ammunition, dangerous cargo and explosives including but not limited to, small arms ammunition, artillery shells fuses and propellants, ammunition for vehicle systems and aircraft bombs and ammunition. The Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point is the only facility in the Department of Defense network that is equipped for and authorized to handle containerized ammunition.

The Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point is the largest military terminal anywhere in the world and can handle up to six ships simultaneously in its docks. The facility incorporates a network of railroad tracks covering 62 miles to move munitions across the area. The transportation infrastructure of Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point allows it to seamlessly transfer munitions between trucks, rails and ships.

In addition to serving as a munitions transfer point the Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point supports the 82nd Airborne Division of Fort Bragg North Carolina. In the event of rapid deployment, which the 82nd Airborne is designed for, Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point handles transportation of all its equipment and supplies. The command of Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point is also responsible for supervising the deployment of joint forces through the North Carolina State civilian ports of Morehead City and Wilmington.