Cape Ray Neutralizing Syrian Chemicals


August 2014


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The SIU-crewed Cape Ray is helping dispose of materials from Syria's chemical stockpile.

SIU members aboard the Keystone-operated Cape Ray are continuing their work in support of a lengthy international mission to safely get rid of materials from Syria’s chemical stockpile.

In a briefing with reporters July 18 in Washington, D.C., Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby stated, “As of this morning, the crew has neutralized just over 15 percent of the DF (methylphosphonyl difluoride), which is a sarin precursor. This amount has been verified by the international Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).”


As previously reported, the Cape Ray – part of the U.S. Maritime Administration’s Ready Reserve Force – left Portsmouth, Va., in January with a crew of 36 civilian mariners, more than 60 chemical weapons specialists from the U.S. Army, security personnel and representatives from the U.S. European Command. The ship sailed to Rota, Spain, and remained docked there from February to late June, when it headed for the Italian port of Gioia Tauro.


In Italy, the Cape Ray received 600 tons of chemicals from Danish and Norwegian ships before taking the materials to an undisclosed location at sea. Using state-ofthe- art equipment that had been installed aboard the Cape Ray beginning last year, shipboard personnel in early July started the process of neutralizing the chemicals.


The neutralizing technique uses fielddeployable hydrolysis systems that mix the chemicals in a titanium reactor so they become inert, the Department of Defense (DOD) reported. A safe pace of neutralization operations is expected to increase gradually, Pentagon officials added, and the total process is expected to take about 60 days.


According to the DOD, the second material scheduled to be neutralized is sulfur mustard, also known as HD.


While the Cape Ray’s exact location isn’t being publicized, the Pentagon is posting periodic updates about the mission online, and has a portion of its website dedicated to the operation. In the most recent post before press time for the LOG, the DOD reported, “Syria delivered 1,300 metric tons of chemical materials for neutralization. The Cape Ray teams will neutralize 600 tons, and the byproducts, called effluent, will be sent to Finnish and German facilities to be destroyed. The remaining 700 tons of material will be delivered to commercial and government facilities in Europe and the United States for neutralization.


“While the leftover neutralized material will be considered hazardous waste, it cannot be used to make chemical weapons,” the post continued. “Joint chemical weapons teams from the OPCW and the United Nations began securing Syrian chemical sites in early October, and the Syrian government gave up the last of its declared chemical stockpiles June 23.”


SIU members sailing aboard the Cape Ray include ABs Walter Ott, Jerry Sobieraj, Shaun Wood, Timothy Squire, William Lima, and Mark Brownell, QEEs Kevin Quinlan and Mark Maduro, Oilers Joel Bell, Fatim Rashed and John Gryko, GVA Alexander Rodriquez, Steward/Baker Edward Banks, Chief Cooks Alba Ayala, Marcus Logan and Anthony Rutland, and SAs Cornelius Taylor, Kevin Arroyo, Sheneisha Thompson, and Naziruddin Patankar.

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