Cape Ray Arrives in Spain to Await Syrian Chemical Mission
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2014 – The MV Cape Ray has arrived at Rota, Spain, for a port visit while en route to aid in removal of Syrian chemical materials, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said.
The vessel -- part of the Transportation Department Maritime Administration's Ready Reserve Force program -- left Portsmouth, Va., Jan. 27. Hundreds of government and contract personnel worked for several months to prepare the vessel to neutralize Syrian chemical materials and precursors using hydrolysis technology.
"When Syria has completed removal of its chemical materials, MV Cape Ray will depart Rota and proceed to the transloading port in Italy, where she will take the chemicals on board," Warren said in a statement announcing the vessel's arrival in Spain. "Our ship is prepared and our crew is trained to safely neutralize Syria's chemical materials. We stand ready to fulfill our contributions to this international effort; it is time for Syria to live up to their obligations to the international community.'
By offering Rota for a port of call before MV Cape Ray receives a load of chemical materials and embarks on the destruction phase of its mission, Spain is making a contribution to the United Nations-sanctioned multinational effort to rid Syria of its chemical weapons materials, officials at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid said.
The United States plans to neutralize the chemicals at sea in international waters using proven hydrolysis technology, embassy officials added. All waste from the hydrolysis process aboard MV Cape Ray will be safely and properly stored on board until it is disposed of at commercial facilities to be determined by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, they added, emphasizing that no hydrolysis byproducts will be released into the sea or air.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sent a message to the Cape Ray's crew, wishing them well as they left Portsmouth.
"As you all know, your task will not be easy," Hagel wrote. "Your days will be long and rigorous. But your hard work, preparation and dedication will make the difference.
"You are ready," the secretary continued. "We all have complete confidence in each of you. You represent the best of our nation, not only because of your expertise and commitment, but because of your willingness to serve when called upon. For that, we will always be grateful. We are also grateful to your families for the love and support they have given you. On behalf of our country and the American people, I wish you much success. Take care of yourselves. God bless you all."
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