Russian frigate escorting nine ships from Somali pirates

November 21st, 2008 - 8:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Nov 21 (RIA Novosti) Russia’s Neustrashimy (Fearless) missile frigate was escorting an international convoy of nine vessels past the Horn of Africa to protect them from Somali pirate attacks, a Russian Navy spokesman said Friday. Captain Igor Dygalo of the Russian Navy, said the Neustrashimy is escorting one vessel each from Russia, the Marshall Islands and the Cayman Islands, and six Liberian ships.

“The Russian Navy will continue its presence in the Horn of Africa region with the aim of providing safe shipping,” Dygalo said.

However, he rejected Russian media reports saying the navy plans to deploy a large group of warships in the area.

“Talk of the possible presence of a large Russian Navy grouping on a regular basis in the Horn of Africa area is premature, as the Russian Navy does not have permanent bases in the area,” he said.

International concern over shipping safety in the region has risen since a Saudi supertanker carrying up to two million barrels of crude oil was seized Saturday.

Somali pirates have attacked around 83 ships till date this year, resulting in the seizure of around 33 vessels, including 200 crew members. The East African nation has been without a functioning government since 1991.

The Neustrashimy recently joined an international naval group that has surrounded a Ukrainian ship, the MV Faina, seized by Somali pirates almost two months ago.

The Faina’s Russian captain died following a heart attack after the vessel was seized.

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