Very Local History: It’s Always Sunny at the Ammunition Depot


Episode 025 | Very Local History: It's Always Sunny at the Ammunition Depot

Just upstream from the mouth of the Cape Fear River is a restricted military base, occupying thousands of acres of sprawling and undeveloped wetlands. Within it runs miles and miles of railway that leads to nowhere.

The base is Sunny Point, also known as MOTSU, and the story of its creation begins with three catastrophic explosions in the early and mid twentieth century.


Show Summary


Three Shipping Explosions

  • The Halifax Explosion
  • Port Chicago Disaster
  • Texas City industrial accident

Sunny Point: Military Logistics Center

  • Primary ammunition depot of the United States
  • Started in 1951, finished in 1955
  • Occupies 8500 acres in Brunswick County and 2100 in New Hanover County
  • The secret of the railway tracks
  • “Containerized ammunition”
  • Designed to avert disaster

MOTSU and Latter-Day Wars

  • Exercise Reforger, training for mass redeployment to Europe
  • Airlift can’t outcompete shipping capacity
  • Vietnam and Iraq
  • Nukes?

Controversies and Inconveniences

  • The 1970 nerve gas boat
  • Nuclear waste from Europe in 1994
  • The Town of Carolina Beach versus MOTSU

Wrap Up

  • A strange environmental conservation side effect
  • Planning a Very Merry Dawson Christmas

Links has a writeup on MOTSU.

Our State Magazine on the secrets of Sunny Point.

A good old fashioned Wikipedia link: Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point.

The Port City Daily reports in 2017 on the cleanup costs for the Town of Carolina Beach related to MOTSU land use.

An editorial from 2014 in the Island Gazette regarding the prison wall / bike path debacle.

And again in 2017 Carolina Beach runs afoul of MOTSU with a lake dredging project (Port City Daily).

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