Russian Rear Admiral Assesses Pirate Threat

MOSCOW, January 26 (RIA Novosti) – At least five well organized pirate groups are currently operational off the Somali coast, Rear Admiral Vasily Lyashok said in an interview with the Ekho Moskvy radio station on Saturday.

Stressing the organizational level of these groups, Rear Admiral Lyashok said they “have satellite communications, shore bases, depots, arsenals, training facilities for their pirates, and a single leader.”

He underlined the fact that today’s pirate groups are a well organized, well armed, and well equipped foe boasting considerable infrastructure and logistics support in the Gulf of Aden region.

He also said that pirate groups have proved themselves an agile, flexible enemy, capable of quickly modifying their behavior in response to strategies used against them.

Lyashok also drew attention to the fact that the anti-piracy coalition currently uses the secure, internet-based, Mercury communications system. “Back in 2009, during a meeting with NATO in Bahrain, we signed an agreement on fitting out our vessels with this apparatus,” he explained, adding that it was standard procedure for vessels operating in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean to use it.

“Our vessels will now be fitted with the latest Semarkom+ systems which also provide internet-based secure communications lines,” Lyashok said, adding that this system improves both vessel-to-vessel links and those with HQ.

He also said that issues of fuel compatibility between NATO and Russian Naval vessels are being examined, and that piracy as a phenomenon is not limited to that geographical area. He also stressed that incidents of piracy – in the form of fuel-theft rather than hostage-taking – had been recorded in the Gulf of Guinea, and that an international anti-piracy force was working in the area.

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