News Stories

District builds strategic tower at Sunny Point

Published March 20, 2012

   The Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point (MOTSU) serves as the nation's largest ammunition terminal.  Operated by the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command’s 596th Transportation Brigade, MOTSU ships ammunition for Operation Enduring Freedom, and is the primary terminal for DoD and Foreign Military Sales ammunition shipments around the world. 

   Security at MOTSU is tight, and the Wilmington District has built a well-fortified tower that will help security officials keep watch along MOTSU’s Cape Fear River waterfront. 
   “The tower will provide a high vantage point to entry points at Sunny Point on the waterfront for guards to be able to have a clear view of the entrance channels and the surrounding waters that access the area,” said Wilmington District Project Engineer Rolando Serrano.  “Previously they were dependent on patrol boats operating from the river level.”   

   Serrano said the 47-foot tower was built to withstand major storm activity.  It is fortified and ballistic resistant.   

   “It’s pretty stout.  It’s designed to withstand a category three hurricane (111-130 mph winds) and a water surge of 13 feet or more,” he explained.  “Being built so close to the water there were some foundation issues, especially when we were trying to design for hurricane force winds.  We had to beef up the foundation, more so than a typical structure of that size.”   

   Serrano said the Wilmington District is also busy with work on MOTSU’s Center Wharf Project.    The wharf is slightly over 50 years old, and he said a number of the piles that hold the wharf up are deteriorated and need repair.

   “So we’re removing previous repairs and doing a much more advanced repair to the understructure piles and the deck. 

   Improvements to the 2,000-foot center wharf include having expanded its width by 20 feet and tearing down the high dock on the waterfront side to accommodate two new 80-foot ship-to-shore container cranes that will be installed this summer. Rails for the cranes run the full length of the wharf, allowing full use of the wharf's length for simultaneously loading multiple ships.

  “There’s a lot of weight on the wharf, especially from train traffic and even more weight when the new cranes will be installed.  There are three rails that support trains that bring cargo to load onto ships, and there are always multiple trucks that perform various functions.” 

  Serrano said trains now handle three and four containers at a time compared to only two before.  The trains are much larger to handle more containers, so their turning radius has grown. 

   “The current turning radius can’t handle these new railcars which is why we’re modifying them.”