Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


North Carolina's development in colonial times and in the early stages of statehood was greatly affected by her coastline. An abundant coastline did not translate into an abundance of good ports, in fact, difficult coastal and inland navigation hampered early commercial development. North Carolina's barrier islands and numerous inlets served as a haven for pirates in colonial days, for privateers during the Revolution, and later defied the North's blockade during the Civil War. There were several attempts by individuals to encourage maritime trade in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Shortly after World War II the state mobilized to promote maritime commerce. A $7.5 million bond issue financed the building of modern port facilities in Wilmington and Morehead City. The State Ports Authority's initiative paralleled North Carolina's transition from a strictly agricultural and textile economy to a more sophisticated industrial state. Current operations hail the first port-operated inland container staging and storage facilities in the nation. The Port Authority conducts an extensive marketing effort in this country as well as in London, West Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea. The cornerstone of the marketing strategy is the promotion of North Carolina's competitive edge in areas of cost, efficiency, and security. In 1987, the North Carolina General Assembly allocated $45 million for port improvement to ensure that the ports of Morehead City and Wilmington would continue to grow and be competitive into the 1990s. This capital injection solidified North Carolina's commitment to its ports and affirmed that state leaders believed that improved business in the 1980s indicated that North Carolina ports had overcome their inherent geographic constraints through technology, innovation and effective marketing. After a downturn in business in 1988, many question the optimistic predictions for the ports which prompted the ambitious undertakings of the previous year.