In between Onslow Beach and Hammocks Beach State Park lies Browns Island, one of three major Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune impact areas that have existed since the base’s establishment.
This impact area has been in use since the 1940’s for military training including naval gunnery practice and live fire from mortars, machine guns, rockets and artillery. Due to impacts from Hurricane Florence last September, more previously-buried unexploded ordnance (UXO) has been exposed on the island.
“Although you may not see something on the surface, after the wind and water movement from a storm, that stuff comes up. Whether you know you’re disturbing it or not, it can still explode,” said Nicholas Klaus, deputy director, range control branch and range control officer.
According to Chief Warrant Officer 5 Michael Pickartz, base explosive ordnance disposal officer, there were four Mark 82 bombs found on the island in October while conducting a sweep. Each of the bombs has approximately 192 pounds of high explosives in them, totaling 788 pounds discovered in one day alone.
“At no time should anyone approach or move any ordnance on the island,” Pickartz said. “Just because something looks old and rusty does not mean it will not blow up.”
Officials emphasize the importance of not trespassing on Browns Island and remind users of the Atlantic-Intracoastal Waterway of the restrictions to the creeks and tributaries leading to and around Browns Island to protect them from the frequent live-fire training exercises conducted in the area and the danger of UXO.
All rules and regulations originate and comply with the Code of Federal Regulations 334.440.
• Absolutely no unauthorized people are allowed on any part of the island.
• Boaters traversing the Atlantic-Intracoastal Waterway in close proximity to the island may not stop, tie up or disembark their vessels.
• No crab-pots, fishing with bottom dragging nets, anchoring, or any bottom disturbing activities are allowed anywhere in the vicinity of Browns Island.
• All navigable waters in the area between the south bank of Bear Creek and the north bank of Brown's Inlet are base property and are strictly off-limits due to highly sensitive unexploded ordnance in this area.
• Bear Creek and Muddy Creek leading to the Intracoastal Waterway to Bear Inlet are open to unrestricted navigation; however an unknown element of risk exists in this area due to the possible presence of unexploded projectiles.
• Boaters may proceed through Browns Inlet without stopping during periods of nonmilitary use. For safety reasons, due to the presence of unexploded projectiles, any contact with the bottom of the waterways or any bottom disturbing activity is strictly prohibited. Caution should be used through these waters.
• Military Police in concert with U.S. Coast Guard will continue to regularly patrol the area and issue citations to trespassers that will require an appearance before the federal magistrate in Wilmington, N.C. Violators can be imprisoned up to six months and fined a maximum of $5,000.
For more information, visit: www.lejeune.marines.mil/Visitors/Browns-Island-Policy.