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

Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said the Northern Fleet's Neustrashimy (Fearless) is currently escorting the Malbec, flying a Marshall Islands flag, with 21 Russians among the crew, along with the Dutch Kent Locomotion, the Singaporean Maersk, and the Liberian-flagged ELB Jarmani.

A senior Navy official said on Thursday that the Pacific Fleet destroyer Admiral Vinogradov would be sent to the Horn of Africa in December to take over from the Neustrashimy, which will continue to escort commercial vessels through the dangerous waters until the end of the year.

During its current mission in the Gulf of Aden, the Neustrashimy had already escorted six convoys, comprising a total of 20 ships with tonnage of almost 570,000.

Russian Navy commander Vladimir Vysotsky said on Sunday that warships from all of the Navy's fleets will be involved in measures to fight piracy in the Horn of Africa region.

Russia dispatched the Neustrashimy to the region in October, due to a 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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