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A look inside the world’s largest military terminal

A cargo vessel prepares for ammunition loading on the wharf at Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point in Southport, N.C., April 25, 2022. MOTSU is SDDC’s East Coast strategic ammunition port and is DOD’s primary ammunition seaport supporting the European, African and Middle Eastern areas of operation. (U.S. Army photo by Alyssa Crockett)

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SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. — On the west bank of the Cape Fear River lies the largest military terminal in the world: Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point (MOTSU). While MOTSU encompasses over 16,000 acres in Brunswick County, North Carolina.


But its gates opened recently, welcoming U.S. Transportation Command’s (USTRANSCOM) leadership for a rare tour of the facility and an inside look into how MOTSU supports the command’s global mission.


“We’re excited to host Gen. Van Ovost [USTRANSCOM commander] and Fleet Master Chief Donald Myrick [USTRANSCOM senior enlisted leader] to see the great work we do here at MOTSU,” said Steven Kerr, the MOTSU deputy to the commander.


Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point is located in Sunny Point, N.C. MOTSU serves as a transfer point between rail, trucks, and ships for the export of ammunition, explosives, and military equipment for the Department of Defense. (U.S. Navy photo by LaShawn Sykes)


MOTSU, run by the U.S. Army, is the nation’s largest ocean terminal for receiving and delivering military equipment like rockets, missiles, howitzers, grenades, projectiles, pyrotechnics and more. The terminal is also the Defense Department’s East Coast strategic ammunition port. 


“Wherever we’re fighting is where we’re likely sending or receiving cargo,” Kerr said. 


Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, commander of U.S. Transportation Command, receives a briefing on crane operations at Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point, Southport, North Carolina. (U.S. Army photo by William Stratton)


With this being Van Ovost and Myrick’s first time visiting the terminal, they took time to speak with the men and women operating at the busy port. She also recognized several key performers with a military coin as a token of appreciation, one of whom was Susan Apke, who helped modernize MOTSU’s information management networks.


Apke’s 40-year career with MOTSU is a testament to her tremendous work ethic and unwavering dedication to the mission, noted Van Ovost. In the past 12 months, Apke oversaw several critical information management projects, provided continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic, and addressed network failover problems, increasing the IT support throughout the port.


During the East Coast trip, Van Ovost and Myrick visited ROTC cadets and midshipmen at the Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. During the visit, Van Ovost discussed her career with the cadets, explaining that she never expected to be where she is today.


Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, commander of U.S. Transportation Command, talks with Old Dominion University ROTC cadets and midshipmen in Norfolk, Virginia, Feb. 22, 2023. She spoke on the importance of resiliency, mentorship and overcoming barriers. (U.S. Transportation Command photo by Ali Soika)


“Reflecting on my career, and I believe Fleet feels the same way, we didn’t expect to serve as long as we have – almost 35 years now for me and 37 for Fleet,” Van Ovost said to the cadets. “I can promise, back when I was an Air Force Academy cadet, I never dreamed of serving as a general officer, let alone COCOM [combatant commander].


“The skills you’re developing now represent the foundation you’ll build upon as you progress through your career – whether that is four years or over 30,” she continued. “Let me thank you all for taking the first steps towards to improving yourselves by participating in a commissioning program. Our nation will always have need of leaders of character and I will be proud to serve alongside you.”


USTRANSCOM exists as a warfighting combatant command to project and sustain military power at a time and place of the nation's choosing. Powered by dedicated men and women, TRANSCOM underwrites the lethality of the Joint Force, advances American interests around the globe, and provides our nation's leaders with strategic flexibility to select from multiple options while creating numerous dilemmas for our adversaries.


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