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25 Nov, 2008 12:35

Man-of-war wasted on Somali pirates?

Russia may send its state-of-the-art warship, the Yaroslav Mudry, to the pirate-infested waters off the coast of Somalia. It’s still at the shipyard, but naval sources expect it to be fully built and ready for service by next spring.

The Commander of the Baltic Fleet, Viktor Mardusin, has said the frigate is undergoing mooring tests, but will be operational early next year.

On Tuesday, another frigate successfully escorted two Russian ships past the horn of Africa, where pirate attacks have intensified in recent weeks.

The Neustrashimy is part of a multi-nation coalition fighting pirates in the region, and Russia has pledged to establish a regular presence in the area.

Maritime expert Mikhail Voitenko has said all “attempts to co-ordinate efforts have failed so far. The world community is demonstrating that it is helpless and at a loss.”

Speaking at a news conference in Moscow on Tuesday, Voitenko said: “either all will fight, or things will deteriorate into an utter mess.”

He added that coordination between warships from different nations needed to improve urgently. 

The anti-pirate ships in the area include about 15 from NATO and individual vessels from Russia, India, Malaysia and elsewhere.

“They have not been under a single command, and there are more questions than answers here,” Voitenko said.

He also pointed out that piracy has undergone a significant evolution in recent times: “Previously, they would attack at night. Now they attack everything they see, in the daytime and at night,” he said.

There’s one more interesting thing about the issue – the coalition ships are currently in control of the Red Sea and most of the Gulf of Aden. But as recent events show, pirates have switched to attacks in the open waters of the Indian Ocean – a move the international community seems unable to counter.  

So far this year, Somali pirates have seized 39 vessels.  The latest is a Yemeni cargo ship, taken on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, negotiations are ongoing aboard the Sirius Star, a Saudi oil tanker, which is transporting 100-million-dollars worth of crude oil.