MV Cape Ray returned to its home port

MV Cape Ray returned to its home port in Portsmouth, Virginia, Sept. 17 at the conclusion of its successful mission of neutralizing and destroying Syrian chemical weapons in the Mediterranean Sea.“We went around the Mediterranean while the specialists were processing the chemicals. The days soon began to go by and it became pretty much routine for us,” Squire added. “All in all though, it was a good trip.”

[June 25 Cape Ray departs Rota, MVArk Futura takes final Syrian shipment]

the MV Cape Ray left for the southern Italian port of Gioia Tauro to retrieve an estimated 560 tons of mustard blister agent and other materials extracted from Syria's war-fractured territory. The move took place two days after President Bashar Assad's regime delivered the last of its declared chemical-warfare stockpile into international custody, enabling the commencement of a destruction operation slated to take place in the Mediterranean Sea.

Defense Department spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said the boat's initial trip to Italy "is expected to take several days."   Upon arriving at Gioia Tauro, the Cape Ray would receive chemicals shipped from Syria on board the Danish vessel Ark Futura. The U.S. vessel would then embark for international waters, where it would employ a chemical process to render the substances largely harmless.

[April 10]

Captain of the MV Cape Ray, Rick Jordan, speaks to the press. 

The MV Cape Ray, which is on a mission to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons, will be held up indefinitely in Rota, Spain, while the international community waits for the Syrian regime to hand over the remainder of its stockpile,

[January 30] The MV Cape Ray left Portsmouth, Va., on January 27 and is due to arrive in the southern port of Gioia Tauro in about “two to three weeks.”

[January 30]

The Norwegian cargo ship Taiko docked in preparation for shipment of chemicals
 Norwegian cargo ship Taiko today has been a new turn in Syria and brought containers of chemical warfare agents. Photo: Rune Thomas Ege
Posted 01/27/14 - 6:48 p.m. , changed 27/01/14 - 7:03 p.m.

The Norwegian cargo ship Taiko went out to fetch the second shipment of chemical weapons and weapons as Monday was carried out from Syria.   A second shipment of chemical weapons materials has been removed from Syria under a deal to eliminate its arsenal, the joint U.N. mission overseeing the disarmament said January 27.

[January 16]

In the transfer of the primary agents at an Italian port from the Danish vessel to an American one, where they will be destroyed at sea, The Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro has been chosen for the chemical transfer, an Italian government source said.
HMS Montrose on anti-pirate patrol

A Royal Navy ship, HMS Montrose, is about to join the escort of the Danish and Norwegian vessels transporting the chemical stocks from Syria.

Class & type: Type 23 Frigate
Displacement: 4,900 tonnes, standard
Length: 133 m (436 ft 4 in)
Beam: 16.1 m (52 ft 10 in)
Draught: 7.3 m (23 ft 9 in)
Propulsion: CODLAG with four 1510 kW (2,025 shp) Paxman Valenta 12CM diesel generators powering two GEC electric motors delivering 2980kW (4000 shp) and two Rolls-Royce Spey SM1A delivering 23,190 kW (31,100 shp) to two shafts
Speed: 28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph) (higher speeds have been recorded in trials)
Range: 14,485 kilometres (9,001 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Complement: 185 (plus up to 20 augmentees (Royal Marines, etc))
Electronic warfare
& decoys: 4 x 6-barrel Seagnat decoy launchers
DFL3 offboard decoys
Anti-air missiles:
1× 32-cell Sea Wolf GWS.26 VLS canisters for 32 Sea Wolf missiles (range 1-10 km)
Anti-ship missiles:
2 × quad Harpoon launchers
Anti-submarine torpedoes:
2 × Twin 12.75 in (324 mm) Sting Ray torpedo tubes
1 × BAE 4.5 inch Mk8 gun 2 × 30mm DS30M automated guns, or, 2× 30mm DS30B guns 2 × Miniguns 4 × General-purpose machine guns
Aircraft carried:
1×Lynx HMA8, armed with; 4× Sea Skua anti ship missiles, or 2× anti submarine torpedoes or 1×Westland Merlin HM1, armed with; 4× anti submarine torpedoes
Aviation facilities:
Flight deck Enclosed hangar
Chinese sailor aboard Yancheng
Chinese guided missile frigate Yancheng arrived in Syrian territorial waters on January 7, proceeding to dock at Latakia Port and then escort the first batch of chemical weapons out of Syrian territory. Joining Yancheng in the escort of Danish and Norwegian ships was Russian missile cruiser Peter the Great. All four ships first rendezvoused in international waters off Syria before commencing the mission, during which China and Russia are reportedly working in coordination with, rather than under the command of, European forces.

[January 9]
Russian cruiser Pyotr Veliky
From the Russian side, the heavy nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser Pyotr Veliky (Peter the Great) is participating in the operation, Spokesman Eystein Kvarving said. Kvarving emphaszed that the Russian and Chinese ships would not be under the Danish-Norwegian command but would coordinate their actions with it. [January 7]

The Chinese frigate 运城/ Yuncheng docked at Limassol port on January 5, 2014, Cyprus. -- A Chinese ship arrived to escort ships picking up chemical weapons materials from Syria on January 7. The frigate Yancheng is working closely with other ships from Russia and Europe.

Type: Frigate
Length: 134.1 m (440 ft)(CCTV report)
Beam: 16 m (52 ft) (CCTV report)
Propulsion: CODAD, 4 x Shaanxi 16 PA6 STC diesels, 5700 kW (7600+ hp @ 1084 rpm) each
Speed: 27 kn estimated
Range: 8025 nautical miles estimated
Complement: 165
Sensors and processing systems:
Type 382 Radar (Upgraded from Type 381 Radar "Sea Eagle S/C") 3D air/surface search radar
Type 344 Radar (Mineral-ME Band Stand) OTH target acquisition and SSM fire control radar
4 x Type 345 Radar(MR-90 Front Dome) SAM fire control radars
MR-36A surface search radar, I-band
Type 347G 76 mm gun fire control radar
2 x Racal RM-1290 navigation radars, I-band
MGK-335 medium frequency active/passive sonar system
ZKJ-4B/6 (developed from Thomson-CSF TAVITAC) combat data system
HN-900 Data link (Chinese equivalent of Link 11A/B, to be upgraded)
AKD5000S Ku band SATCOM
Electronic warfare
& decoys: Type 922-1 radar warning receiver
HZ-100 ECM & ELINT system
Kashtan-3 missile jamming system
Armament: 1 x32-cell VLS HQ-16 SAM / anti submarine rocket launcher
2 x 4 C-803 anti-ship / land attack cruise missiles
1 x PJ26 76 mm dual purpose gun
2 x Type 730 7-barrel 30 mm CIWS guns
2 x 3 324mm YU-7 ASW torpedo launchers
2 x 6 Type 87 240mm anti-submarine rocket launcher (36 rockets carried)
2 x Type 726-4 18-tube decoy rocket launchers
Aircraft carried: 1 Kamov Ka-28 'Helix' or Harbin Z-9C
Aviation facilities: hangar

Danish Ark Futura across the bay

December 7, the UN confirmed that a small number of containers with “priority one chemical materials” were on board the Ark Futura cargo ship, one of two vessels in charge of collecting the materials. They will wait in international waters for additional chemicals to be delivered to Latakia for collection. A spokeswoman said the loading took only “a couple of hours”, but this delicate phase of the operation had been “months in the planning”.

[December 5]

Frank Kendall, undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, speaks to reporters during a visit to the Cape Ray, in Portsmouth, Va., Jan. 2, 2014, to discuss the ship`s upcoming mission to destroy chemical weapons from Syria. The Cape May is expected to depart for the mission about January 16 with 64 specialists from the Army`s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

Tent housing a filtration system.

Inside the plastic tent are two storage tanks, each containing a cistern where the lethal agents will be mixed with water and other chemicals.

The roughly 500 tonnes of highly toxic chemicals which Bashar al-Assad's regime had stockpiled for the manufacture of Sarin and VX nerve agents are still in 12 bases around the country, three days after they were due to arrive in Latakia for loading on to Danish and Norwegian ships. Those freighters – the Ark Futura and the Taiko – have returned to the Cypriot port of Limassol since it became clear how far the schedule laid down by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had slipped.

Some of the materials have been packed into US-provided drums, but none of them have been loaded, a diplomat said. It is not clear whether the armoured Russian trucks flown into Syria to transport the chemical weapons have reached all 12 locations. Meanwhile, US trucks carrying equipment like such as GPS tracking devices to help the movement of the chemicals have been held up at the Jordanian border, apparently by bureaucratic delays.

A handout picture taken on December 29, 2013, and released by Norwegian Armed Forces, shows a Norwegian officer on deck watching the cargo vessel "Taiko", IMO number: 8204975 earmarked to transport chemical agents from war torn Syria.

Ark Futura IMO: 9129598

 Syria apparently has not begun to move weapons toward the port staging areas.   An official from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said security concerns and bureaucracy are the primary reasons President Bashar al-Assad's government missed Tuesday's deadline.

Bad weather and a complex multinational procurement effort for equipment have also delayed the operation.

For now, the delay is not raising concern in Washington, which characterized the deadline as ambitious. The State Department said it was satisfied to see "forward progress."

HDMS Esbern Snare (L17) is an Absalon-class support ship, and is along with her sister ship, the HDMS Absalon, the largest combat vessel currently commissioned in the Royal Danish Navy.

Two cargo ships and their warship escorts are waiting at Cyprus’ Limassol port for word on when they can travel to Syria to begin hauling out more than 1,000 tons of chemical agents. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the U.N. said Saturday that a Dec. 31 deadline to remove the most toxic chemicals was unlikely to be met. They urged President Bashar Assad’s government to “intensify efforts” to meet internationally set deadlines

[December 27] Danish chemical expert Bjorn Schmidt speaks to reporters aboard the Danish frigate HDMS Esbern Snare in Cyprus’ Limassol port on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. Schmidt said that Danish and Norwegian cargo vessels can safely ferry up to 500 tons of Syria’s most dangerous chemical weapons out of the strife-torn country. He said sealed containers full of chemical compounds that when mixed can create lethal Sarin and VX gasses will be loaded at opposite ends of the two cargo ships.(AP Photo/Pavlos Vrionides)(Credit: AP) Esbern Snare has since October been pirate hunting on the Somali coast during NATO's Operation Ocean Shield.

Italy has agreed to let the Norwegian and Danish ships use one of its ports — it has not yet said which port — to transfer the most toxic chemicals to a U.S. ship.
The United States is supplying nearly 3,000 container drums, loading, transportation, and decontamination equipment. Washington also is providing GPS locators that will let authorities track the chemicals. Russia is providing large capacity and armoured trucks, water tanks, and other logistical supplies. It has also indicated the possibility of helping with security for cargo operations at the port and in Syrian territorial waters. China is providing surveillance cameras and 10 ambulances.

Denmark and Norway are providing cargo vessels and military escorts in the form of two navy frigates to ship the chemicals out of Latakia. They first will take the most toxic chemicals, which are the top priority for destruction, and later return to pick up hundreds of tons of less dangerous chemicals. Finland will provide a chemical weapons emergency-response team

[December 7]

The MV Cape Ray, a retired cargo ship currently docked at a Virginia private shipyard on the Elizabeth River near the Midtown Tunnel, December 5th, 2013. The Cap Ray is preparing for a high-profile mission to destroy Syria's chemical weapons

The Cape Ray was activated twice in the past decade, each time to help move military supplies for the Iraq war.

It was buzzing with activity again on December 5. Department of Defense civilians began mounting the two mobile hydrolysis units below deck, defense officials said. The units will be enclosed in a special tent equipped with an advanced filtration system, ensuring that any chemical leaks would be contained. The entire neutralization operation would take place below deck, defense officials said.

If it gets the green light on the mission, the ship would come under the control of the Navy's Military Sealift Command. It would be staffed with a crew of about 100 people - a mix of Defense Department civilians and private contractors, defense officials said.

Under the working plan, several hundred tons of chemicals would be loaded into shipping containers in Syria, moved to Latakia, a Syrian city on the Mediterranean Sea, and transferred to a non-Syrian port. To avoid docking in the war-torn country, the Cape Ray would pick up the containers from a third country, destroy the chemicals while at sea, then offload the waste at a commercial treatment facility, defense officials said.

The Pentagon began developing the field-deployable hydrolysis system in response to the Syrian civil war. The system - which takes an existing technology and makes it mobile - went through final testing this summer.

Neutralization is achieved by mixing hazardous chemical agents with water and other chemicals, and then heating the mixture.

[December 5]

frigate "Helge Ingstad"

Norwegian frigate will, December 9, sail for Syria, to assist in the work of freighting chemicals from the Syrian weapons programme. Norway has also offered the use of a transport vessel.

The frigate "Helge Ingstad" will be used to escort the freighters which will be used to transport the chemicals to the US, where they will be destroyed.

Bestykning 1 × Mk 41 VLS for missiler
32 × RIM-162 ESSM SAM
8 × Naval Strike Missile
4 × 324 mm torpedorør for Sting Ray torpedoer
1 × 76 mm OTO Melara SR kanon
4 × 12,7 mm Browning M2HB mitraljøser
Sensorer AN/SPY-1F (luft/overflate)
CAPTAS MK II V1 aktiv/passiv tauet sonar
MRS 2000 skrogmontert sonar
Kommandokontroll Link 16, Link 11
Mannskap ca. 120
Fly NH90 Nato Frigate Helicopter

Norway has granted NOK 90 million in support to the UN's work to destroy Syria's store of chemical weapons.
Destruction of so-called "category 3" chemical weapons, which are unfilled munitions, has proceeded at a rapid clip, and has been completed well before the target date of January 31st. At least for now, it is unlikely that Syria has the capacity to make or fill any new weapons.

However, another looming deadline is proving rather harder to meet. By the end of this month, 500 tonnes of the deadliest chemicals in Syria’s arsenal are meant to have been removed from the country for destruction elsewhere. Known as "priority chemical weapons", including nerve agents, such as sarin and mustard gas, these are deemed too dangerous to take into a third-party country for commercial reprocessing (in fact, Albania was approached to host their destruction, but refused).

First, the weapons must be sealed and packaged in special containers brought across the border from Lebanon by Syrian technicians who have been trained there by OPCW specialists. Then they must be transported by road from multiple sites to Syria’s biggest port, Latakia, some 225 kilometres (140 miles) north of Damascus, the capital. Once there, they will be loaded on to ships provided by Norway and Denmark and taken to an American government-owned vessel, the Cape Ray, a 200-metre (650-foot) cargo ship that is part of a reserve fleet used for transporting military hardware at short notice. The Cape Ray is being fitted with a mobile unit that has been developed for breaking down lethal chemical agents into a sludge similar to industrial toxic waste. This will eventually be treated for disposal by commercial firms in a number of different countries, according to Ms Kaag. When the Cape Ray arrives in the Mediterranean it will be escorted by several American navy warships.

MV Cape Ray (AKR-9679)

Built in 1977, the ship was delivered to Saudi Arabia's National Ship Co. as MV SEASPEED ASIA. Later renamed SAUDI MAKKAH, she was purchased by the Maritime Administration in 1993 and was subsequently converted for military use. Renamed MV CAPE RAY (T-AKR 9679), she was assigned to the Ready Reserve Force on December 17, 1994. Since then, she is maintained in reduced operating status in a layberth at Portsmouth, Va. If required, she can be fully activated within 5 days.
General Characteristics:    Built: 1977
Builder: Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd., Japan
Purchased by MARAD: 1993
Propulsion system: two Diesel engines
Propellers: one
Length: 648 feet (197.5 meters)
Beam: 105 feet (32 meters)
Draft: 32 feet (9.75 meters)
Displacement: approx. 35,350 long tons full load
Speed: 16+ knots
Aircraft: none
Armament: none
Crew: 9 civilian mariners in ROS; 29 civilian mariners when activated
Homeport: Portsmouth, Va.

  There appear to be 3 phases to the plan, firstly, to move the 1330 tonnes to the Port of Latakia, secondly to transport these chemicals to the MV Cape Ray presumably in the Mediterranean somewhere, and to commercial toxic waste destruction facilities and finally to destroy the most toxic by hydrolysis on the MV Cape Ray and the rest by normal convention toxic waste destruction at civilian facilities, by mid 2014 – all possible, well apparently, until yesterday’s 11th hour request by Minister Mekdad.

It is understood that most of the CW is North of Damascus and will have to move through a number of contested areas before it reaches Latakia.


[December 2]
The United States is donating a ship and destruction equipment, but it has not yet reached agreement about where the naval vessel will anchor while it processes the toxic chemicals. Latakia, is likely the northern port from which Syria will export hundreds of tons of toxic chemicals to a floating destruction facility. 

Under a deal worked out between the United States and Russia, Syria will relinquish control of its chemical weapons and destroy its entire stockpile of 1,300 tons of sarin, mustard gas and other lethal agents. The size of the stockpile, including 800 tons of industrial chemicals destined for incineration at commercial toxic waste plants, means it can only be transported by land and sea. Syrian forces will have to transport the chemicals through contested territory to Latakia. For the program implementation and the removal out of country it is necessary the roads are open and safe to be used.

[October 31]

amphibious warfare ship Admiral Nevelskoi
Israeli aircraft have carried out a strike near the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, a US official says.

The official said the strike targeted Russian-made missiles intended for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.   One unnamed US official told the Associated Press that the missiles targeted by Israel were Russian-made SA-125s.   Since Russia replaced all of its S-125 sites with SA-10 and SA-12 systems, they decided to upgrade the S-125 systems being removed from service to make them more attractive to export customers

“I think we’ve made it crystal clear we would prefer that Russia was not supplying assistance ” to the Syrian regime in its war against opposition forces, US Secretary of State John Kerry said in Rome May 9.   Russia is not planning to supply Syria with any weapons beyond the current contracts that are nearing completion, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said refuting speculations that Moscow was going to sell S-300 air defense systems to Damascus.
[June 10]
 U.S. intelligence agencies have identified three Russian amphibious warships in the eastern Mediterranean that are believed to be carrying weapons shipments that might be used to resupply the Syrian regime, according to a Pentagon official.

The United States has been tracking the ships since they left Russian ports several days ago. U.S. satellites were able to see some indications of containers being loaded onto the ships. It's believed the ships may be carrying some components of the controversial Russian S-300 air defense missile system and other weapons for the regime.
The destroyer Admiral Panteleyev, the amphibious warfare ships Peresvet and Admiral Nevelskoi, the tanker Pechenga and the salvage/rescue tug Fotiy Krylov left the port of Vladivostok on March 19 to join the task force.

[May 30]

The first shipment of Russian anti-aircraft S-300 rockets has arrived there according to  Syrian president Bashar al-Assad
There had been a "bank transfer" in connection with the S-300 transaction but that Russian banks were becoming increasingly nervous about dealing with Assad.   Russian newspaper Kommersant reported today that Russia expects to deliver the long range surface-to-air missile systems by the second quarter of 2014..Most likely this is bluff, To complete its Syrian contract, Russia will need at least seven-to-nine months for first S-300 to be delivered

There were some problems with payments because big Russian banks were scared of dealing with Assad, but there was a bank transfer.There are also not big banks and banks that are not based in Moscow. Beyond the down payment there was almost certainly a second payment, maybe a third.
[May 29]
Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said he could “neither deny nor confirm” the reports claiming that the delivery had already been finalized, 
[May 28]
Russia says it will go ahead with deliveries of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Syria, and that the arms will help deter foreign intervention.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the missiles were a "stabilising factor" that could dissuade "some hotheads" from entering the conflict.



Shipping from St. Petersburg to the Syrian port of Tartus is expected. 2011 annual report by S-300’s manufacturer,mentioned a contract for the missile systems for Syria. The report has since vanished from the plant’s website, but was cited by the respected Vedomosti business daily at the time as saying that the contract was worth $105 million and that an unspecified number of S-300 systems were slated for delivery between 2012 and early 2013.. The report has since vanished from the plant’s website, but was cited by the respected Vedomosti business daily at the time as saying that the contract was worth $105 million and that an unspecified number of S-300 systems were slated for delivery between 2012 and early 2013.  The manufacturer is unlikely to have ready-to-ship S-300 systems lying on the shelves: Whatever leftovers there were from a deal with Iran, scrapped in 2010, were long ago snatched up by other customers such as Algeria. This means the systems would need to be produced and test launches conducted, a job that would take about a year. Furthermore, dozens or even hundreds of staff would have to be trained to operate the complicated machinery, which should take about six months. This would push Assad’s most optimistic deadline of owning fully operable S-300 complexes to November 2013 at best, with spring of 2014 being a more realistic estimate.

Alexandria Egypt

 Israeli and American officials have urged Russia not to proceed with the sale of advanced S-300 air defense weapons. The Kremlin has yielded to American entreaties not to provide S-300s to Iran. But the denial of that sale, analysts say, has increased the pressure within Russia’s military establishment to proceed with the delivery to Syria.
[September 2 2010]
Defense Minister Ehud Barak is said to be concerned over the possibility that Russia will follow through with the delivery of the S-300 surface to- air defense system to Iran via Syria.

Russia has issued mixed messages regarding the future of the 2005 deal in recent months, first saying that the new round of sanctions on Iran passed by the United Nations in June would not impede the deal and later saying that it would.

Despite the Israeli objections, a top Russian official issued a statement on Sunday saying that Moscow would honor its deal with Syria.

“I would like to emphasize that the Russian Federation is fully honoring its earlier agreements with Syria,” Russian presidential aide Sergey Prikhodko told the Interfax news agency.

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