Fifty years of service: Sunny Point meets milestone.
The Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point in Southport, N.C., plans, coordinates and executes the safe movement of munitions, explosives, and other hazardous cargo through common-user ammunition terminals and seaports in the United States. Its personnel also provide technical assistance to commercial strategic seaports and expeditionary ammunition terminal operations.
Safe and efficient movement of ammunition through the terminal has been, and remains, the cornerstone of operations, said MOTSU commander Col. Mike Babul.
Recognition of MOTSU's half-century milestone started in November as more than 200 people attended a ceremony at the Southport Community Center, Southport N.C. Representatives of the state's Governor Michael Easley, as well as North Carolina Senators Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr, Congressman Mike McIntyre, and State Senator R. C. Soles, Jr., attended or provided congratulatory letters.
State Representative Bonner Stiller attended the ceremony and was one of the guest speakers. The ceremony to recognize the terminal's military significance and impact on the community was open to the public and sponsored by Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation.
Col. Charles Sunder, main speaker at the ceremony and a former commander of MOTSU from 1972 to 1974, spoke proudly of his command tenure at MOTSU.
"I've known almost every commander who has been here and we all felt this was one of the highlights of our military career," he said. "One common thing was the people we had to work with out there. They were superb, dedicated. They made our jobs easier. It truly was a team effort. I am honored and proud."
Until World War II, ammunition was treated as all other commodities flowing through an ocean terminal. Expediency was the driving force in moving cargo and ammunition overseas. However, a 1944 explosion during ammunition loading operations at the Naval Magazine Port Chicago, Concord Calif., killed 320 sailors and injured 390 other people. An investigation of the disaster led defense planners to recognize the requirement for safer handling procedures and the establishment of terminals specifically designed to trans-ship ammunition.
A Government Land Office was established Jan. 15, 1952, in Southport to handle the land acquisition for MOTSU, and terminal construction began. The new Military Ocean Terminal was activated in November 1955 as the Wilmington Ammunition Loading Terminal. The terminal's name was changed in the 1970s to MOTSU.
"This was a unique new concept of the safe out loading of ammunition," said Eugene Tomlinson, former Director of Services and Engineering at MOTSU. "We had the best group of people during the early phases of construction. We were able to transfer a new concept into an eminently successful facility."
The new terminal went to full capacity during the Cuban Missile Crisis and subsequently loaded 85 percent of the Department of Defense's resupply munitions to Vietnam.
Sunny Point was once again called upon to operate 24 hours a day during Operation Desert Storm. More than 500 measurement tons of munitions sent to the Persian Gulf were trans-shipped through Sunny Point.
Since the early 1970s, the Department of Defense has been moving to 100-percent containerization of munitions. The terminal was the Army's test bed for containerization of munitions and has been leading the way in this critical component of the distribution process. Ninety percent of the ammunition that now comes through MOTSU is containerized.
The terminal's mission expanded in 1997 to include the Army and Air Force Pre-positioned Maintenance Program. Ammunition pre-position vessels return to Sunny Point for cargo maintenance cycles to inspect and test stocks and reconfigure loads as required. Pre-positioning afloat operations now comprise the greatest share of the workload at the terminal.
The terminal is continuing to posture to support warfighters for the next 50 years. In recent years, emphasis at MOTSU has been on a number of improvements, including upgrading operational processes, developing automated cargo management systems and procuring installation support equipment to improve efficiency of the terminal and support the near-exclusive use of containers.
Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom exports and the recent reconstitution of the Army and Air Force Ammo Pre-position Afloat programs have provided ample opportunity to use the new equipment and practice new processes. A 50-percent savings in time and money can be expected when the full complement of equipment is on hand and a center wharf expansion project is complete.
The long-standing safety record for the terminal is the result of command emphasis on safety and the professionalism and dedication of the MOTSU workforce, Babul said. MOTSU's partnership with U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers, professional commercial transportation providers, the North Carolina State Ports Authority, stevedoring contractors, and the International Longshoremen's Association has enabled the command to safely move in excess of 1.7 million tons of ammunition, unit equipment and supplies throughout the globe over the last several years. The flow of ammunition is constantly managed, documented, and secured; ammunition specialists check all explosive cargo for proper blocking and bracing and stowage for subsequent transport by sea, rail, or truck.
"We continue to modernize and improve the terminal to transform MOTSU into a state-of-the-art terminal, capable of large, complex munitions movements," Babul said. "While there have been many changes since 1955 to the terminal itself and its business processes, there has been one constant--the professionalism of the people at MOTSU. Their resiliency to adapt to evolving requirements over the last 50 years is a tribute to those who first envisioned the need for specialized ammunition terminals.
"The dedicated workers at Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point have earned the distinction of Terminal of Excellence," he said. "We honor the dedication and hard work of all who have contributed to an enduring legacy of an outstanding terminal that Handles With Care."
Lt. Col. Karen S. Conley
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|Title Annotation:||United States. Department of Defense|
|Author:||Conley, Karen S.|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2006|
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