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Russian warship en route for anti-piracy mission off Somalia

Russian warship en route for anti-piracy mission off Somalia 27.10.2008 Source: en.rian.ru

A missile frigate from Russia's Baltic Fleet arrived at the port of Aden in Yemen on its way to join an international naval group fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia, the Russian Navy said.

"After water and food replenishments, the warship will carry out measures to protect shipping in the coastal waters of Somalia where sea pirates are active. In particular, the Neustrashimy frigate may escort passenger and merchant vessels," the Russian Navy said, adding that the warship had the right to use force, including weapons, against pirates.

The Neustrashimy (Fearless) frigate is to join an international naval group, which has surrounded a Ukrainian ship, the MV Faina, after it was seized by Somali pirates on September 25. The Faina, which was carrying tanks and heavy weapons, has a crew of 17 Ukrainian nationals, two Russians, and one Lithuanian on board.

The Faina's Russian captain died of a heart attack after the vessel was seized. The pirates holding the ship have demanded an $8 million ransom, and have threatened to kill the hostages if a military operation is launched against them.

The Neustrashimy'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.

Pirates are increasingly active in the waters off Somalia, which has no effective government and no navy to police its coastline. Somali pirates have seized around 30 ships so far this year off the coast of the east African nation.

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