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The union-crewed Cape Ray has set sail from Virginia on its mission to neutralize the chemical weapons that have been turned over in Syria to international peacekeepers.

Crewmembers aboard the U.S-flag vessel include those from the MTD-affiliated Seafarers International Union as well as the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association. In addition, technicians serving on the Cape Ray are members of the MTD-affiliated International Association of Machinists.

In a statement released January 27, the Department of Defense praised those on the Cape Ray as well as those who prepared the vessel and trained those working on board. The mission to eliminate the chemical weapons “could not have been possible without these remarkable contributions.”

Prior to setting sail, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sent his personal best wishes to the ship:

“All of America wishes you well as you prepare to depart on your historic mission.

“You are about to accomplish something no one has tried. You will be destroying, at sea, one of the world’s largest stockpiles of chemical weapons and helping make a safer world.

“As you all know, your task will not be easy. Your days will be long and rigorous. But your hard work, preparation and dedication will make the difference.

You are ready. We all have complete confidence in each of you. You represent the best of our nation, not only because of your expertise and commitment, but because of your willingness to serve when called upon. For that, we will always be grateful. We are also grateful to your families for the love and support they have given you.

“On behalf of our country and the American people, I wish you much success. Take care of yourselves. God Bless you all.

Sincerely,

Chuck Hagel

Secretary of Defense”