A U.S cargo ship loaded with sophisticated equipment is setting sail today for the Mediterranean Sea, where it will be used to destroy dozens of containers of deadly chemical weapons being removed from Syria.
The MV Cape Ray was scheduled to leave in the afternoon for what is expected to be a roughly two-week trip to the Italian port of Gioia Tauro, where chemicals will be transferred to the ship.
The chemicals include raw materials for making sarin and mustard gas, and they will be destroyed on board the Cape Ray at sea.
On Monday, a second shipment of chemical weapons was loaded onto Danish and Norwegian ships at the port of Latakia in Syria, according to a statement from the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The ships are expected to stay in international waters off Syria waiting for additional loads.
Security challenges in Syria have slowed the transport of the materials to the port where they are loaded onto the ships. The Danish and Norwegian cargo vessels will transfer the chemicals onto the Cape Ray at the Gioia Tauro port.
Officials have said about 700 tons of chemical weapons will be destroyed.
The confirmed use of chemical weapons in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on Aug. 21, in which the U.S government said 1,400 people died, prompted a U.S.-Russian agreement to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons by mid-2014.
In a message to the crew today, Defense Secretary "Chuck Hagel" called the mission historic.