U.S. Chemical-Destruction Ship Departs for Syria Mission

Global Security Newswire Staff
Add to Briefcase
Global Security Newswire Staff
Jan. 28, 2014, 6:41 a.m.

A spe­cially equipped U.S. ves­sel em­barked on Monday for a mis­sion to neut­ral­ize Syr­ia’s dead­li­est war­fare chem­ic­als, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­ports.

The MV Cape Ray would need about two weeks to reach the Itali­an sea­port of Gioia Tauro, where it is ex­pec­ted to pick up hun­dreds of tons of chem­ic­al-war­fare stocks re­moved from Syr­ia by Dan­ish and Nor­we­gi­an trans­port ships. The U.S. ves­sel would carry the weapon agents and arms in­gredi­ents out to sea, where they would be com­bined with hot wa­ter and oth­er ma­ter­i­als in ma­chinery de­signed to gen­er­ate a re­l­at­ively harm­less waste.

The De­fense De­part­ment on Monday stated that end ma­ter­i­als “will be safely and prop­erly dis­posed of at com­mer­cial fa­cil­it­ies,” and stressed that none would be “re­leased in­to the sea or air.”

Ap­prox­im­ately 35 non­mil­it­ary crew mem­bers and a num­ber of op­er­a­tions ex­perts were on the ves­sel, AP quoted De­fense De­part­ment spokes­man Col. Steve War­ren as say­ing on Monday. The Navy’s Mil­it­ary Seal­ift Com­mand as­sumed over­sight of the ship this week from the Trans­port­a­tion De­part­ment’s Ready Re­serve Force.

The Cape Ray is slated to ul­ti­mately take on more than five dozen people trained to run its chem­ic­al-de­struc­tion tech­no­logy, as well as pro­tec­tion per­son­nel and oth­er crew.

U.S. De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel said in a state­ment that ship per­son­nel are “about to ac­com­plish something no one has tried.”

As they pre­pared to set sail, Hagel told the work­ers, “You will be des­troy­ing, at sea, one of the world’s largest stock­piles of chem­ic­al weapons and help­ing make a safer world.”

Pri­or to de­struc­tion, though, the chem­ic­als must be trans­por­ted through Syr­ia by forces loy­al to Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad. Dis­arm­a­ment of­fi­cials have placed high im­port­ance on pro­tect­ing the stocks dur­ing ship­ment through the war-rav­aged Middle East­ern na­tion.

As­sad’s re­gime on Monday placed its second load of the dan­ger­ous sub­stances on for­eign ships. En­voys and non­pro­lif­er­a­tion sources pegged the size of that cache at 15 to 20 tons, which means that about one-twen­ti­eth of As­sad’s most dan­ger­ous chem­ic­al stocks are now in in­ter­na­tion­al cus­tody, the New York Times re­por­ted.

Yet, As­sad’s gov­ern­ment “should be way down the road by now” in turn­ing over the ma­ter­i­als, said Chris­ti­an Charti­er, a spokes­man for the Or­gan­iz­a­tion for the Pro­hib­i­tion of Chem­ic­al Weapons. In­ter­na­tion­al au­thor­it­ies are un­der a self-im­posed dead­line to des­troy Syr­ia’s en­tire chem­ic­al ar­sen­al by the middle of 2014.

The Syr­i­an re­gime ad­mit­ted pos­sess­ing a chem­ic­al ar­sen­al and agreed to its de­struc­tion last year, after a nerve-gas strike al­legedly killed more than 1,400 people in a rebel-held Dam­as­cus neigh­bor­hood.

What We're Following See More »
NRA Chief: Leftist Protesters Are Paid
1 days ago
Trump Still on Campaign Rhetoric
1 days ago
Trump Rails On Obamacare
1 days ago

After spending a few minutes re-litigating the Democratic primary, Donald Trump turned his focus to Obamacare. “I inherited a mess, believe me. We also inherited a failed healthcare law that threatens our medical system with absolute and total catastrophe” he said. “I’ve been watching and nobody says it, but Obamacare doesn’t work.” He finished, "so we're going to repeal and replace Obamacare."

Trump Goes After The Media
1 days ago

Donald Trump lobbed his first attack at the “dishonest media” about a minute into his speech, saying that the media would not appropriately cover the standing ovation that he received. “We are fighting the fake news,” he said, before doubling down on his previous claim that the press is “the enemy of the people." However, he made a distinction, saying that he doesn't think all media is the enemy, just the "fake news."

Report: Trump Asked FBI to Deny Russia Stories
1 days ago

"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate."


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.