Videos Highlight Cape Ray Mission


August 2015


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The U.S Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) has released a series of videos documenting the historic mission undertaken by the M/V Cape Ray and her crew of SIU mariners, other seafarers and members of the military in 2014. The mission, to destroy deadly chemical weapons surrendered by Syria, required a unique environment that converted the Cape Ray, operated for the Ready Reserve Fleet by Keystone, into a floating chemical weapons destruction facility.


In order to create safe working conditions, equipment known as a field deployable hydrolysis system (FDHS), designed to convert the deadly chemicals into a harmless effluent, was assembled on the main deck of the ship. The chemicals were enclosed in specially designed tents, which were kept under negative pressure to avoid any accidents.


The three-part video series (produced by MaritimeTV and available on MARAD’s website, documents the vessel’s unprecedented modification and the role U.S. citizen mariners played in enabling personnel from the U.S. Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center to safely and successfully neutralize almost 500,000 liters of chemical agent.


SIU members were previously honored on their return home with an award ceremony on Sept. 19, 2014 in Portsmouth, Virginia. There, the crew members were presented with Merchant Marine Medals for Outstanding Achievement by MARAD Administrator Chip Jaenichen for their efforts in completing the mission successfully and professionally. The Merchant Marine Medal for Outstanding Achievement is awarded to U.S. Merchant Mariners who have participated in an act or operation of humanitarian nature, according to the agency.


Jaenichen said during the ceremony, “Thanks to dedicated U.S. mariners like those we honor today, people around the world continue to see the American flag as a symbol of hope. This vessel and her crew show that MARAD’s fleet of Ready Reserve ships stand ready to support the nation’s armed forces and most importantly, national and economic security.”


As stated in the MARAD-released videos, “The rapid response of MARAD’s Ready Reserve Force to the Syrian chemical weapon threat was both well-planned and flawlessly executed. As one of 46 vessels currently on stand-by to respond to national and humanitarian emergencies, the M/V Cape Ray and its crew performed admirably to ensure our national and international safety – once again cementing the U.S. Merchant Marine as an irreplaceable national asset.”



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