By Lt. Col. Rob Manning, Under SecArmy Public Affairs January 3, 2014
WASHINGTON (Jan. 3, 2014) -- Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal accompanied Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall, and other key officials from the Department of Defense, to meet with Army civilians responsible for installing the Field Deployable Hydrolysis Systems aboard the U.S. Navy's MV Cape Ray, in Portsmouth, Va., yesterday.
The recently outfitted Cape Ray will participate in a United Nations mission to destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpile. Approximately 60 Army civilians will be aboard the vessel when it receives an official order to support this joint mission.
"We are very proud of what our Army civilians have done to get us where we are today and what they will continue to do to prepare our joint force for this very critical mission," said Westphal while commenting on the expertise and professionalism of Army civilians aboard the Cape Ray.
The 648-foot Cape Ray, built in 1977, is generally used to transport vehicles to war zones from the United States. Army civilian employees outfitted the ship with two portable hydrolysis systems designed to neutralize chemicals weapons in Syria's arsenal.
"The team that put this together is a government team. It was an Army team primarily, Army civilians working together," said Kendall as he addressed the media. "And if you want to applaud anybody as you go around today and get a chance to talk to any of these people, the Army [civilians] that are going to deploy for the next few months to go out and conduct this mission are heroes."
Under the United Nations-backed plan, some 700 metric tons of chemicals will be loaded into shipping containers and moved to Latakia, a Syrian city on the Mediterranean Sea, where they will be placed onto cargo ships and eventually transferred to the Cape Ray. Once the chemicals are destroyed aboard the vessel, the waste, some 1.2 million gallons' worth, will be offloaded at an unspecified commercial treatment facility.