The first batch of chemical weapons left Syria on a Danish ship on January 7, according to newspaper VG. The passage of the chemicals through international waters is being safeguarded through the provision of ‘naval escorts’ from Russia, Denmark, Norway and China.
Under a deal worked out between the United States and Russia, Syriawill relinquish control of its chemical weapons and destroy its entire stockpile of 1,300 tonnes of sarin, mustard gas and other lethal agents.
Norway and Denmark in December offered naval frigates and specialized cargo vessels to transport chemical weapons out of Syria, as part of an international deal that averted U.S. missile strikes on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. Denmark would lead the operation, while Norway would act as deputy commander.
The Norwegian vessel escorting the dangerous goods is the frigate “Helge Ingstad”. Since it was put into service in 2009, the vessel has visited Northern Fleet’s main base in Severomorsk twice in connection with the Norwegian-Russian naval exercise POMOR.
The Russian vessel escorting the Danish cargo ship is the missile cruiser “Petr Veliky”, says Eystein Kvarving, spokesperson for the Norwegian Navy. The vessel left its home base in October for a mission to the Mediterranean, as BarentsObserver reported. Together with other vessels from all four Russian fleets it has been conducting different tactical drills in the area before becoming part of the mission organized by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
The cruiser will probably be sailing in the area after the campaign is finished, as a part of the security around the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi in February 2014, a source close to the Navy General Headquarters told newspaper Izvestia.