Russia mulls construction of 'anti-piracy' ship
MOSCOW, May 8 (RIA Novosti) - Russia could build at least one special-purpose ship to fight sea piracy in the next several years, the Pacific Fleet commander has said.
Vice Admiral Konstantin Sidenko said "special ships and vessels" were needed to ensure safety at sea and deal with sea piracy, which posed the greatest security threat.
He offered no details about its design or equipment but said that such a ship would be part of the Pacific Fleet, because its area of responsibility includes the Indian Ocean, in particular the Gulf of Aden.
The chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces said on Friday Russia had no plans to beef up its task force in the Gulf of Aden following a pirate attack on a Russian tanker.
"We have no plans to reinforce our deployment," said Gen. Nikolai Makarov, who is also first deputy defense minister.
A SWAT team from the anti-submarine destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov freed the Moscow University tanker and its 23 crewmembers on Thursday. The ship was hijacked by Somali pirates on Wednesday en route from the Red Sea to China.
One pirate was killed and several injured in a 22-minute operation. The pirates were captured, but later released. Makarov said Russia had "no legal grounds for detaining them" as they could not be prosecuted under international or national law.
A Russian special investigations committee spokesman initially said that all the detained pirates involved in hijacking the tanker would be sent to Moscow to face legal proceedings and prosecution.
The Russian task force comprising the RFS Marshal Shaposhnikov, the MB-37 salvage tug and the Pechenga tanker arrived in the Gulf of Aden on March 29 to join the anti-piracy mission in the region.
Somali pirates carried out a record number of attacks and hijackings in 2009. According to the International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Center, a total of 217 vessels were attacked last year, resulting in 47 hijackings.
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