MOSCOW, December 19 (RIA Novosti) - A naval task force from Russia’s Northern Fleet left the Severomorsk base on Wednesday and set course for the Horn of Africa on a new anti-piracy mission, the Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.
It includes the large antisubmarine ship Severomorsk, the salvage tug Altai, and the tanker Dubna, as well as a contingent of naval infantry subunits.
The force will travel the length of the Mediterranean, pass through the Suez Canal and relieve the Pacific Fleet task force that has been there on an anti-piracy mission since November.
Meanwhile a Baltic Fleet task force set sail on Tuesday for the eastern Mediterranean where it will relieve a group of Black Sea warships.
The force includes the frigate Yaroslav Mudry, the large landing ships Kaliningrad and Alexander Shabalin, the salvage tug SB-921 and the tanker Lena.
The new anti-piracy mission is expected to reach the region by mid-January.
Russia keeps a naval task force in the Gulf of Aden as part of the international effort to fight piracy off the Somali coast.
Russian warships have successfully escorted hundreds of commercial vessels from various countries through Somali coastal waters since 2008, when Russia joined the international anti-piracy mission in the region.
A recent study estimated the cost of piracy to the world economy from disruption to international trade at between $7 billion and $12 billion.
In February 2011 the United Nations launched an action plan to combat piracy off the Somali coast, calling for greater support from national navies to fight a “global menace” that threatens not only international trade but the world body’s delivery of vital food aid to millions of hungry people.
According to latest UN reports, pirates carried out 291 attacks and hijackings in the first 10 months of 2012, taking at least 293 hostages.