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27 Apr, 2009 10:44

Changing of the guard: pirate patrol replacements arrive

Changing of the guard: pirate patrol replacements arrive

Four vessels of the Russian Navy have arrived to the Gulf of Aden with a pirate deterrent mission. They will replace combat ships currently on duty in the region.

The naval group headed by BPK (Udaloy class destroyer) “Admiral Panteleyev,” and supported by tankers “Izhora” and “Irkut,” and a rescue tugboat, left their base at the port of Vladivostok in the Far East on March 29.

“Panteleyev” will replace “Admiral Vinogradov," a similar warship that had been on patrol mission since January.

The anti-submarine ship is armed with Rastrub missile-torpedoes, Kinzhal air defense systems, and other weaponry. She carries two helicopters, and a unit of marines trained in anti-pirate operations is stationed on each vessel of the group.

“At the moment an international convoy of six merchant vessels, including several from Russia, is being formed in the Gulf of Aden. Once it’s formed, Russian military ships will escort it through the secured corridor,” 1st rank captain Roman Martov, Deputy Commander of the Pacific Fleet, told ITAR-TASS news agency.

In summer 2008, the UN Security Council gave foreign naval forces free access to Somali territorial waters to repel increasing numbers of pirates operating there. Since then, military forces from Russia, India, China, Japan, and South Korea and NATO countries have been patrolling the area, and defending merchants from pirate attacks.

The problem is far from being solved though, with pirates expanding their zone of operation to international waters. Since the beginning of the year, Somali pirates have attacked dozens of vessels.