Russian destroyer escorts 2 commercial ships off Somalia

MOSCOW, January 7 -- A Russian Pacific Fleet destroyer on Wednesday started escorting two commercial ships in the Gulf of Aden, where pirates based in Somalia have been active, a Russian Navy spokesman said.

"The Admiral Vinogradov destroyer is currently escorting the Anatoly Kolesnichenko and the Cherkassy vessels to protect them against pirate attacks," Captain 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said.

Admiral Vinogradov 554 (Photo @Maritimequest)

Another Russian warship, the Neustrashimy (Fearless), has been operating off the Horn of Africa since the end of October to protect commercial ships from pirate attacks.

With the arrival of the Vinogradov, the Neustrashimy is expected to end its anti-piracy mission, although the Navy spokesman said it would remain in the region until further notice.

The Baltic Fleet frigate on Wednesday finished towing a fishing vessel to Yemen, Dygalo said. The boat, which had been adrift for four days, was carrying nine Somalis and two citizens of Yemen.

One of the passengers was a pregnant woman who was given medical assistance.

Pirates have been increasingly active in the waters off Somalia, where over 120 ships were attacked in 2008, with around 40 vessels seized. The navies of at least 10 countries are involved in anti-piracy operations off the coast of the East African nation. @ RIA Novosti

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