U.S. Vessel to Play Key Role in Neutralizing Syrian Chemical Weapons

The painstaking process of destroying Syria's giant chemical weapons stash is set to begin next week. U.S. vessel MV Cape Ray is scheduled to leave the Spanish port of Rota for Gioia Tauro, Italy, Wednesday where it will play a key role in the delicate mission. First, it will meet Danish vessel Ark Futura, which is carrying Syria's entire stockpile of chemical weapons and precursor chemicals.

Sign up for breaking news alerts from NBC News

Approximately 560 tons of the deadly chemicals will be transferred to MV Cape Ray on July 2 and 3. The U.S. ship will then head into international waters in the Mediterranean where the deadly chemicals, including mustard and sarin nerve agent precursors, will be pumped through two hydrolysis systems, mixed with hot water and rendered harmless. Syria handed over its final acknowledged stockpile of weapons, totaling 1,300 tons, this month. The remaining 740 tons will be transported to disposal sites in the U.K., Finland and Port Arthur, Texas.