A Russian naval task force has arrived in the Gulf of Aden to patrol for pirates, replacing a previous flotilla that had been stationed in the area since September last year.
A spokesman for the Russian Pacific Fleet told RIA Novosti that the task force includes the Udaloy class destroyer Admiral Tributs, the Pechenega tanker and a rescue tugboat. The Admiral Tributs previously took part in the mission in 2009.
“The seventh task force has arrived in the designated area of the Gulf of Aden to join the international mission,” Captain 1st Rank Roman Martov said yesterday.
Martov said that the new task force would carry out several anti-piracy drills before forming its first international convoy on Sunday.
The task force replaces another Pacific Fleet flotilla, which on August 29 last year sent the Udaloy-class destroyer Admiral Penteleyev, a supply vessel and rescue tugboat, as well as a unit of marines, to the Gulf of Aden. They arrived there on September 28.
Russian warships have taken part in anti-piracy patrols since October 2008 and successfully escorted a total of 130 commercial vessels from various countries through the pirate-infested waters off the Somali coast.
The international community runs several seaborne anti-piracy missions off North Africa, with the European Naval Forces Operation Atalanta, NATO-led Operation Ocean Shield and Combined Taskforce 151 led by Americans. Atalanta was originally set up to safeguard the United Nation’s World Food Programme aid deliveries to Somalia but has expanded to take on a general anti-piracy role. Other nations like South Korea, China, Japan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and India also have ships off the East African coast.
Yesterday the European Union Naval Force said that Somali pirates tried to board the Spanish navy ship Patino off the Horn of Africa nation but it repulsed the attack and arrested six pirates.
Somali pirates are an increasing hazard to shipping in the region, posing a challenge to international navies patrolling the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.
The European Union Naval Force announced on Sunday that in the previous week in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean it had identified and neutralised two ocean going dhows that had been pirated and were subsequently being used as mother ships from which Somali pirates were intending to launch attacks on merchant shipping in the sea lanes off Somalia and the southern Arabian coasts. The Indian flagged dhow AL QASHMI and an Iranian vessel were boarded and their hijacked crew released and suspected pirates taken into custody.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday the MV Liquid Velvet, previously pirated and that may have been used as a mothership, was disrupted by naval counterpiracy forces and is no longer considered a threat to merchant shipping, according to NATO.
Piracy is a major problem in the Gulf of Aden region, costing the world economy and shipowners billions of dollars every year. However, a recently published study by British think-tank Chatham House, suggests piracy has led to widespread economic development in some parts of Somalia.
Regional centres have benefited from substantial investment funded by piracy, but coastal communities have missed out, the report says, adding that substantial amounts of ransom money are spent in regional centres, with the benefits being shared out between a large number of people due to the clan structures in place. This makes the political elite unwilling to tackle piracy