To the praise of Pentagon officials, the union-crewed Cape Ray has finished its assignment of neutralizing the chemical agents released by Syria following an international agreement.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel contacted the vessel on August 18 to state his appreciation to the crew. According to a statement released by the Defense Department (DOD), the secretary said the crew, “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 DOD statement went on to read, “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 our international partners. The secretary commended the crew for conducting every aspect of the mission in a highly professional manner with strict adherence to safety and with no impact to the surrounding environment, and said that they should all be very proud of what they’ve accomplished to help reduce the threat posed by chemical weapons.”
According to Reuters, personnel aboard the Cape Ray neutralized more than 600 metric tons of chemicals while in the Mediterranean. The vessel will travel to Germany and Finland to offload the resulting effluent, which will undergo further treatment to make it safer, per a DOD spokesperson through Reuters.
Members of the MTD-affiliated Seafarers Union as well as the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association crew the vessel. Technicians serving aboard the Cape Ray include members of the MTD-affiliated International Association of Machinists.
The ship set sail in January for Spain awaiting the transfer of the chemicals which was delayed several months by the ever-changing situation and conditions within Syria. The chemicals were received by the Cape Ray in late June.