WASHINGTON (July 7, 2014) -- Teams aboard the MV Cape Ray have begun neutralizing Syrian chemical materials, a Pentagon spokesman said.

U.S. military and civilian specialists aboard the ship are neutralizing the chemical materials in international waters, Col. Steve Warren told reporters. The mission is now underway, after about a six-month delay in getting the chemicals out of Syria.

Many of the chemical specialists onboard the Cape Ray are from the U.S. Army's Edgewood Chemical Biolgical Center, near Aberdeen, Maryland. They will use two new "field deployable hydrolysis systems" to neutralize the chemicals.

The ship left Gioia Tauro, Italy, with about 600 tons of chemicals.

"The Cape Ray is tasked with neutralization of specific chemical material from Syria," Warren said, noting that the teams are following United Nations and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons guidelines.

If all goes well, he said, neutralization will take about 60 days. Weather could affect the process, he added.

Onboard the ship, an environmentally-sealed tent contains two field deployable hydrolysis systems capable of operating 24 hours a day in parallel to complete the chemical warfare agent neutralization mission.

Each unit costs about $5 million, and contains built-in redundancy and a titanium-lined reactor for mixing the chemical warfare agents with the chemicals that will neutralize them.

"When neutralization is complete, Cape Ray will deliver the result effluent by-products to Finland and Germany for destruction ashore," Warren said.

Italian officials loaded 78 containers of Syrian chemical materials aboard the Cape Ray on July 2. The Cape Ray teams will neutralize HD sulfur mustard gas and DF, a sarin gas precursor.

(Army News Service senior correspondent C. Todd Lopez contributed to this report.)