The Corps was asked to stabilize Ocean City Inlet once it opened. They responded by building jetties to hold open the inlet's entrance. Jetties block wave energy and prevent sediment from clogging the inlet. They also focus the tidal currents in the channel, thereby making them faster.
The north jetty was built in 1934 at the very southern tip of Ocean City. This started impounding sediment immediately since the dominant direction of longshore sediment transport is from north to south. The south jetty was built in 1935 at the very northern tip of Assateague Island. Dredging of the inlet and a channel in Sinepuxent Bay took place in 1935, and it resulted in the creation of Ocean City Harbor at the southwest end of Fenwick Island.
The Corps raised the north jetty in 1937 because it had blocked so much sediment that the excess was spilling over the structure and into the inlet. Sediment that passed around the jetties was moved by the currents going through the inlet, which led to the creation of ebb-tidal and flood-tidal shoals. The ebb-tidal shoal on the ocean side grew particularly large, and by the 1960s it was almost a mile wide.
The changes in sediment transport that took place at the inlet caused significant shoreline alterations for northern Assateague Island. It was being deprived of sand because the jetties physically blocked sediment from the longshore currents, and what did make it around the jetties was often deposited in the ebb-tidal and flood-tidal shoals, rather than reaching the northern end of the island.
Northern Assateague began to erode very quickly, reaching a rate of over 20 feet eroded per year. By the mid-1950s, this erosion caused the south jetty to become disconnected from the land, so large amounts of stone were added to reconnect it with the shoreline in 1956. The north jetty was also raised again that same year to keep sediment out of the inlet.
But these actions didn't address the root cause of the shoaling problem or the growing erosion at northern Assateague, which was the disruption of sediment transport. The rate of shoreline retreat along the northern end had reached 30 feet a year by the 1960s. When the Five-High Storm struck in 1962, the eroded north end breached in two places, and the Corps had to place an emergency beach fill to repair them.