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Russian warship passes through Suez on way to Somalia coast

Russian warship passes through Suez on way to Somalia coast 20.10.2008 Source: en.rian.ru

A missile frigate from Russia's Baltic Fleet will pass through the Suez Canal on Tuesday en route to the Somalia coast to join an international naval group fighting sea piracy in the region, a senior Navy official said.

The Neustrashimy (Fearless) missile frigate left the main naval base in Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad in late September and participated in joint drills with a Russian naval task force in the Mediterranean.

"The ship's task is to escort and protect Russian vessels or ships with Russian crewmembers on board from pirate attacks [off the Somali coast]," the source said.

The ship'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.

In the beginning of October, Somali Ambassador to Russia Mohamed Handule said his country's president, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, had given permission for Russia's military to tackle pirates both off Somalia's coast and on land.

Pirates are increasingly active in the waters off Somalia, which has no effective government and no navy to police its coastline. According to foreign estimates Somali pirates have seized more than 60 ships so far this year off the coast of the east African nation demanding a ransom in exchange for their release.

They recently hijacked a Ukrainian ship, the MV Faina, carrying at least 33 tanks and other heavy weaponry. Six U.S. warships are currently in the area around the Faina and are monitoring the situation.

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