The Defense Department issued the following statement from Secretary Hagel and the related news release (also below) Monday night, Jan. 27.
The Cape Ray is an SIU-crewed ship, operated by Keystone.
To Captain Jordan and the crew of the MV Cape Ray:
All of America wishes you well as you prepare to depart on your historic mission.
You are about to accomplish something no one has tried. You will be destroying, at sea, one of the world’s largest stockpiles of chemical weapons and helping make a safer world.
As you all know, your task will not be easy. Your days will be long and rigorous. But your hard work, preparation and dedication will make the difference.
You are ready. 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.
Secretary of Defense
Today the Department of Defense announced the deployment of M/V Cape Ray from Portsmouth, Va. M/V Cape Ray is the primary contribution of the Department of Defense toward international efforts to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons material program. Over the last several months, hundreds of government and contract personnel have worked tirelessly to prepare the vessel to neutralize Syrian chemical materials and precursors using proven hydrolysis technology. This achievement could not have been possible without these remarkable contributions.
The United States remains committed to ensuring its neutralization of Syria’s chemical materials prioritizes the safety of people, protects the environment, follows verification procedures of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and with applicable standards. All waste from the hydrolysis process on M/V Cape Ray will be safely and properly disposed of at commercial facilities to be determined by the OPCW. No hydrolysis byproducts will be released into the sea or air. M/V Cape Ray will comply with all applicable international laws, regulations, and treaties.
It is the responsibility of the Assad regime to transport the chemical materials safely to facilitate their removal for destruction. The international community is poised to meet the milestones set forth by the OPCW, including the June 30 target date for the total destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons materials. The United States joins the OPCW and the United Nations in calling on the Assad regime to intensify its efforts to ensure its international obligations and commitment are met so these materials may be removed from Syria as quickly and safely as possible.