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Russian frigate escorts another convoy along Somali coast

10.12.2008 Source: en.rian.ru

A Russian frigate currently protecting civilian ships from Somali pirate attacks near the Horn of Africa is escorting another convoy of four vessels in the area, a Navy spokesman said.

Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said the Northern Fleet's Neustrashimy (Fearless) is currently escorting the Russian Nadezhda (Hope), the Fesco Yenisey flying a Marshall Islands flag, along with the Panamanian Symphony, and the Cayman Islands-flagged Nanami.

The Neustrashimy will continue to escort commercial vessels through the dangerous waters off the Somali coast until the end of the year when it will be replaced by the Pacific Fleet's destroyer Admiral Vinogradov, which left a naval base near Vladivostok on Tuesday on course for the Indian Ocean.

During its current mission in the Gulf of Aden, the Neustrashimy had already escorted seven convoys, comprising a total of 24 ships.

Russian Navy commander Vladimir Vysotsky earlier said that warships from all of the Navy's fleets will be involved in anti-piracy measures in the region.

Russia dispatched the Neustrashimy to the region in October, following the surge in pirate attacks.

According to the UN, Somali pirates have attacked over 120 ships so far this year, resulting in the seizure of 39 vessels and the capture of at least 600 merchant seamen for ransom. There are 280 merchant seamen from 14 different ships currently being held by Somali pirates.

The east African nation has been without a functioning government since 1991 and has no navy to police its coastline.

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