The Return of the M/V Cape Ray to Portsmouth, Virginia

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
September 21, 2014

I am proud to welcome home the men and women of the M/V Cape Ray, the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration vessel and salute all the dedicated professionals who worked on the Cape Ray, carrying out a critical national security mission, the first time that chemical weapons were removed from a live conflict and destroyed aboard a ship on the open sea.

After the call for a novel ship-board hydrolysis system, the Cape Ray was prepared for the mission in just five months. Despite initial projections that the work would take as long as three months, the operations on board took only 42 days.

Thanks to the work of those aboard the Cape Ray, 600 tons of chemical weapons material, including sulfur mustard agent, and components for the nerve agent sarin—material that would have been capable of killing untold numbers—were rendered harmless.

In addition to those who served at sea, I want to thank those who supported them at home. This includes not only the crew's family members, who made their own sacrifice on behalf of their country, but the hundreds of employees working tirelessly to support this important mission at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, U.S. European Command, U.S. Transportation Command, Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center, the Joint Program Executive Office—Chemical and Biological Defense, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Departments of Commerce, Homeland Security, and State, and the Environmental Protection Agency.