U.S. military and civilian specialists aboard the ship are neutralizing the chemical materials in international waters, Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters.
The ship left Gioia Tauro, Italy, with 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.
The U.S. ship has two field-deployable hydrolysis systems in its holds. The systems mix the chemicals in a titanium reactor to render them inert.
“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.