Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel this week congratulated the crew of the U.S. ship MV Cape Ray for completing the work of neutralizing Syrian chemical weapons components.
Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby issued a statement saying Hagel called Navy Captain Rich Dromerhauser aboard the ship to congratulate the crew on finishing their unprecedented work of neutralizing, at sea, the most dangerous chemicals in Syria’s declared stockpile.
The secretary said that by ridding the world of these materials, they – as part of an ongoing international effort to eliminate the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal – have helped make an important and enduring contribution to global security.
The core technology that made the mission possible was the Field Deployable Hydrolysis System (FDHS), which adds heat, water and neutralizer to a chemical weapon to neutralize its effectiveness. Originally intended for use on land, the system was rapidly adapted for ship-borne operations due to the nature of the conflict on the ground in Syria.
With the dedication of designers from the U.S. Army’s Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center (ECBC), working with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the FDHS was installed on the Cape Ray in just 5 months.
The accomplishments onboard the Cape Ray represent the first time chemical weapons have been destroyed aboard ship on the open sea.
“I want to congratulate the dedicated team of professionals aboard the Cape Ray, as well as our interagency and international partners, on the successful completion of Cape Ray’s mission to destroy approximately 600 metric tons of chemical weapons materials,” said Kenneth A. Myers, Director, DTRA/SCC-WMD. “These materials could have been used to make countless chemical weapons, and now have all been eliminated in an environmentally safe and effective way. This historic mission would not have been possible without the herculean efforts of all our partners and our DTRA/SCC team.”
Secretary Hagel expressed his gratitude for the crew’s service, dedication, and expertise, noting that with the world watching, they performed flawlessly every step of the way – despite a very long deployment, and a complex operation that required careful coordination with international partners.
Image: MV Cape Ray (T-AKR-9679) sails off after completing flight operations. Cape Ray is tasked with the neutralization of specific chemical materials from Syria in accordance with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) guidelines while operating in international waters. Credit: Desmond Parks, U.S. Navy