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Russian warship escorts new convoy off Somali coast

RIA Novosti

16:48 11/08/2010

MOSCOW, August 11 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Admiral Levchenko destroyer is escorting a convoy of five commercial ships through pirate-infested waters off the Somali coast, the Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.

A task force led by the Admiral Levchenko, an Udaloy class guided-missile destroyer of the Northern Fleet, arrived in the Gulf of Aden on July 3 to join the international anti-piracy mission near Somalia. The Russian mission also includes the Olekma tanker and the SB-36 tugboat of Russia's Black Sea Fleet.

"The Admiral Levchenko is escorting a convoy comprising five ships through dangerous areas around the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden," the ministry said adding that there were 19 Russian sailors among the crews of commercial vessels.

The SB-36 tugboat thwarted on August 3 an attack of two pirate boats on the Russian-flagged Dafna tanker in the southern part of the Red Sea.

According to the London-based International Maritime Bureau, the number of pirate attacks worldwide decreased in the first half of 2010 by 34% year-on-year mostly due to the ongoing anti-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden.

The Russian Navy has maintained a presence off the Horn of Africa with warships operating on a rotation basis. Russia joined international anti-piracy efforts off the Somali coast in October 2008.

The previous task force in the Gulf of Aden was led by the Udaloy class guided-missile destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov, which took part in freeing the Russian Moscow University tanker hijacked on May 6 by Somali pirates.



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