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The Russian crew of a tanker
The Russian crew of a tanker in the Gulf of Aden prevented Somali pirates from boarding their vessel by using onboard fire hoses, a sailors' union spokesman in Russia's Far East said on Wednesday.

The Russian crew was delivering a brand new tanker, the Handytankers Magic, from China to Europe when Somali pirates approached it in the Gulf of Aden on Sunday, firing a rocket-propelled grenade that landed on the deck but failed to detonate. The Russian sailors reacted quickly, using powerful fire hoses to deter the pirates.

"The tanker's watch crew noticed a ship with black sails in the Gulf of Aden from which a speedboat had left and was heading straight for the tanker," the spokesman said. "The four pirates in the speedboat were preparing an aluminum ladder to climb aboard the vessel. Captain Yury Suponin ordered the crew to attack the pirates using high-pressure fire hoses."

The pirates managed to fire a grenade-launcher from their boat onto the deck of the Handytankers Magic, however were unsuccessful in the attack as the shell simply fell to pieces, the spokesman added.

The Handytankers Magic was built in China for the Greek company Roxana Shipping and sails under the Marshall Islands' flag.

Suponin radioed the Far East Russian port of Nakhodka to inform the authorities that none of the Russian sailors were injured during the pirate attack.

The tanker has since left the pirate-infested waters of the Gulf of Aden and is passing through the Suez Canal on its way to Europe.

Around 20 warships from the navies of at least a dozen countries are involved in anti-piracy operations off Somalia. According to the United Nations, Somali pirates carried out at least 120 attacks on ships in 2008, resulting in combined ransom payouts of around $150 million.

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