U.S. Ship Sails Off to Destroy Syrian Weapons at Sea

GIOIA TAURO, Italy (AP) -

A United States cargo vessel loaded with hundreds of tons of Syria’s chemical weapons left an Italian port Wednesday to destroy the arms at sea as part of the international effort to rid Syria of its chemical weapon stockpile.

The MV Cape Ray steamed out of the southern Italian port of Gioia Tauro after a 12-hour operation to transfer the chemicals from a Danish ship, the Ark Futura.

It is expected to head into the open sea where it will neutralize the chemicals — including mustard gas and the raw materials for sarin nerve gas — with special machinery outfitted in its cargo hold.

The chemicals had crossed the Mediterranean aboard the Ark Futura, which steamed into Gioia Tauro as the sun rose Wednesday.

Italy’s environment minister, Gian Luca Galletti, proclaimed the mission a proud moment for Italy, saying that the country was contributing to international security in a “transparent and environmentally secure operation.”

The resulting waste will be disposed of on land in dumps equipped to handle hazardous materials.

U.S. officials say no vapor or water runoff will be released into the atmosphere or the sea as a result of the process.