Portsmouth, Va. - The M/V Cape Ray has returned to Portsmouth following a successful mission destroying Syrian chemical weapons in the Mediterranean Sea.
The ship left Hampton Roads on January 27 after the United Nations approved it as a chemical weapons destruction facility.
"When we initially tried to do this mission, we looked for an international partner to be able to destroy those weapons on their soil. We were unable to find one. So we gravitated to a shipboard mission where we could actually neutralize these chemical weapons," USDOT Maritime Administrator Chip Jaenichen told NewsChannel 3 Friday.
Over the course of 42 days at sea, the Cape Ray destroyed more than 600 tons of Mustard gas and the precursor agent for Sarin.
"They were not sailing point to point. They had to sail around for a month and a half as the chemicals were being neutralized," Jaenichen explained.
The all volunteer U.S. Merchant Mariners crew of the Cape Ray was honored during a ceremony Friday in Portsmouth, receiving the Outstanding Achievement Medal.
"Those chemicals that we’ve removed from the Syrian weapons stockpile that they’ve declared, the 600 tons that were neutralized onboard this ship. That will make the world a safer place," Jaenichen declared.