US readies ship to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons

5 January 2014 (Last Updated January 5th, 2014 18:30)

US officials have said that the MV Cape Ray ship which has capability to destroy some of Syria's chemical weapons will depart for the Mediterranean in about two weeks for new sea trials.

US officials have said that the MV Cape Ray ship, which has capability to destroy some of Syria's chemical weapons, will depart for the Mediterranean in about two weeks for new sea trials.

The MV Cape Ray vessel has been equipped with two field deployable hydrolysis systems, which cost $5m apiece.

The treatment units are expected to neutralise 700t of chemical weapons and mustard gas, as well as a form of sarin nerve gas precursor.

The Cape Ray will set sail with a crew of 35 with 63 engineers from Edgewood, and will spend 45 to 90 days at sea.

US Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Frank Kendall, said this is essentially the same chemical process they have used to destroy some of their own materials.

Kendall noted that it's a slightly different scale here.

"We'll change them chemically into compounds that are no longer usable."

"What we'll do is convert materials that are chemical weapons themselves or precursors for chemical weapons. We'll change them chemically into compounds that are no longer usable for that," Kendall said.

"They're still hazardous materials in some cases, and they'll have to be destroyed and dealt with, but there are numbers of installations in many countries around the world who deal with hazardous chemicals, industrial chemicals, if you will, like that all the time."

"We're working to finalise who's going to actually take the chemicals that result from the process you're going to see."

The Cape Ray's Captain Rick Jordan said the ship is designed to absorb rough seas, but, if it becomes unmanageable, they will have to shut down production.

Defence Technology