BT-9 and BT-11 (Bombing Targets) reside in the Neuse River and the Pamlico Sound a few miles from Oriental and Cedar Island. Mariners are restricted from entering these areas. If you enter the bombing range territories when you’re boating or fishing in the Neuse River and the Pamlico Sound, you can be charged with a federal trespassing misdemeanor. The punitive consequences of the act vary.
Typical fines vary on the facts of each case, but $500 is not unusual for even a first time offender that claims mistake. As an added cost, violators could be required to report a federal conviction on their record in situations like future employment, court costs are a special assessment, and attorney fees could be in the thousands.
The spotting planes that fly out prior to bombing runs have a camera that can easily read hull numbers from altitude. If your picture is taken within the boundaries, no excuse beyond an emergency situation is going to protect you from liability.
Over the past couple of years, the hurricanes and nor’easters have taken down many of the markings indicating these areas. In a lot of instances, only wooden poles exist with no signs, and with the many remaining poles from abandoned duck blinds, it can be a little confusing where these BT’s start.
These aren’t valid excuses for entering, though. It is every boat’s responsibility to do their homework and know the CFRs. To understand the boundaries of these targets and the waters around Marine Corp Station Cherry Point, reference CFR 334.420 and CFR 334.430. Once you’ve read these Codes of Federal Regulations, get a navigational chart, Maptech #90, for further clarification. Also, some GPSs will have these BTs marked.
For the waters around Brant Island (BT-9) and between the mouths of the Bay and Pamlico rivers, a three-mile radius from the designated center of the range is closed at all times. It is marked in the water by a circular series of markers. Unfortunately, many of the signs are missing from their support posts and only the bare posts exist. However, it is indicated by a magenta circle on the aforementioned navigation chart and some GPSs. Again, get a chart to better understand this area and minimize some confusion.
The waters around Piney Island (BT-11) have four areas that are closed at all times. Some of these areas have markers present and some don’t. To better understand these areas, reference CFR 334.420.b.1. However, it does have an area that is closed only when in use, which is approximately five days per month. This sometime open area is referenced by some as the “outer band.”
To understand when the “outer band” area is closed, you will need to contact Marine Corp Station Cherry Point Range Notifications at (252) 466-0051.
All five of these Piney Island areas are noted on the aforementioned navigation chart and many GPSs. Again, get a chart to better understand this area and minimize some confusion.
This information is provided courtesy of Capt. Bobby Brewer, Baldheaded Bobby Guide Service.