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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

New Russian Navy task force to patrol Somali waters

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, January 12 (RIA Novosti) - A new task force from Russia's Baltic Fleet will join international efforts to fight piracy off the Horn of Africa, a Russian Navy spokesman said on Tuesday.

The task force led by the Neustrashimy (Fearless) frigate will replace the Admiral Chabanenko destroyer from Russia's Northern Fleet, the spokesman said, adding that Russian warships would continue regular patrols near the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden in 2010.

"This is due to continued pirate attacks on peaceful civilian vessels, and also a real threat for sailors who are Russian nationals," the spokesman said.

The Neustrashimy completed an anti-piracy mission in February 2009. The upcoming deployment will be the Neustrashimy's second tour. The frigate's armament includes SS-N-25 Switchblade anti-ship missiles, SA-N-9 Gauntlet SAM, a 100-mm gun, torpedoes and depth charges. The frigate also carries a Ka-27 ASW helicopter.

The Russian task force comprising the Admiral Chabanenko and a support ship arrived in the Gulf of Aden in late November for Russia's anti-piracy mission.

The Russian Navy has maintained a constant presence off the Horn of Africa, with each fleet dispatching warships on a rotational basis. Russia joined international anti-piracy efforts off the Somali coast in October 2008.

Pirates based in Somalia, which has been without an effective government since 1991, hijacked more than 35 vessels in 2009, and have already seized two this year.

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