The MV Cape Ray left Portsmouth, Va., on Monday on a mission to neutralize Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons and their precursor materials at sea, the Pentagon said.

The Cape Ray houses the Field Deployable Hydrolysis System, which was developed by the U.S. military as the crisis in Syria escalated. The engineers who built the FDHS took existing chemical weapons neutralization technology and made it mobile.

This mission is the first of its kind. The U.S. and other countries have years of experience destroying chemical weapons on land, but this will mark the first time anyone has attempted to perform the task on a seagoing vessel. The ability to neutralize the dangerous materials in international waters made the disarmament effort led by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations politically possible because none of the countries involved wanted the chemicals on their soil. […]