US Ship Will Dispose of Syrian Chemical Weapons

The US military is preparing to dispatch the specially configured merchant ship Cape Ray to the Mediterranean Sea in the next several weeks to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. This marks the first time ever that the United States will neutralize chemical weapons at sea, according to a Jan. 3 Pentagon release. Cape Ray is scheduled to depart from Portsmouth, Va., to the Mediterranean after its sea trials, with some 35 merchant mariners and 64 chemical specialists aboard as well as a US European Command contingent and a security team. There, at a yet-to-be-determined location, Cape Ray will take on around 700 tons of Syrian mustard gas and DF compound, an ingredient in sarin gas, from Danish and Norwegian vessels. Using field-deployable hydrolysis systems installed on Cape Ray, the specialists will neutralize the chemicals over the course of some 90 days. The ship is equipped with stabilizers to dampen roll on the ocean. The United States has utilized the FDHS process at locations on land to neutralize chemical agents, including at the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, according to the release. (AFPS report by C. Todd Lopez)