A Greek submarine, frigates from Germany, Italy and Turkey, and other warships of the U.S. 6th Fleet take part in the Task Force-64 (CTF-64) that will escort and protect the U.S. flagship MV Cape Ray where the destruction of Syria’s chemicals will take place in the international waters of the Mediterranean between Sicily (Italy), Malta and Greece.
It was announced by the U.S. Navy that the ship sailed from the base of Rota in Spain and is already on its way to the port of Gioia Tauro in Italy, where the ship will receive the Syrian chemical weapons transferred from the Danish vessel Ark Futura. Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, announced that the ship’s stay in Italy is expected to last several days.
After the transfer is complete, the Cape Ray will depart Gioia Tauro for international waters between Sicily, Malta and Greece to begin neutralization of the chemical agents using the field-deployable hydrolysis system. Kirby stated that “neutralization will be conducted in a safe and environmentally sound manner,” adding that nothing will be released into the environment.
The Cape Ray and the field-deployable hydrolysis system are part of the U.S. contribution to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons — U.N. Joint Mission to eliminate Syria’s declared chemical materials stockpile. The vessel is part of the Transportation Department Maritime Administration’s Ready Reserve Force program.
In 2013 Syria accepted a plan for the removal of chemicals after an alleged attack with chemical gases by the Assad regime that caused the death of almost 1,500 civilians, including women and children, in the suburbs of the capital known as Ghouta.