Russia sends destroyer to protect shipping off Somali coast

A Russian task force led by Northern Fleet’s destroyer Severomorsk will start patrolling pirate-infested waters in the Gulf of Aden in June, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The Udaloy class destroyer left its home base in northern Russia on May 8, and will be joined on route to the Gulf of Aden by the Yelnya tanker from the Baltic Fleet and a tug boat from the Black Sea Fleet.

“A task force led by Northern Fleet’s Severomorsk destroyer will start escorting commercial ships in the Gulf of Aden and off the Horn of Africa in the first half of June,” the ministry said.

The Russian Navy has maintained a presence off the Somali coast since October 2008, with warships operating on a rotation basis.

The latest Russian anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden was carried out by a Pacific Fleet’s task force led by the Admiral Vinogradov destroyer.

During its four-month-long patrol duty, which ended on April 17, the task force successfully escorted 14 convoys of commercial vessels.

According to the UN, the number of pirate attacks on merchant ships reached 400 in 2010. A total of 790 sailors and crew members were captured by pirates last year.

MOSCOW, May 13 (RIA Novosti)

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