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    Russian warships head to the Atlantic, Caribbean

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    A Russian naval task force departed Monday on a tour of duty in the Atlantic Ocean, including joint naval drills with the Venezuelan navy in November, a Navy spokesman said.

    MOSCOW, September 22 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian naval task force departed Monday on a tour of duty in the Atlantic Ocean, including joint naval drills with the Venezuelan navy in November, a Navy spokesman said. (Russian Navy modernized - Image gallery)

    "A naval task force from the Northern Fleet, comprising the nuclear-powered missile cruiser Pyotr Velikiy, the large ASW ship Admiral Chabanenko, and support ships, left the Severomorsk base early Monday to conduct training exercises in the Atlantic," Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said.

    Pyotr Velikiy is a Kirov (Orlan) class nuclear-powered guided missile heavy cruiser, which has practically unlimited operational range and carries 20 SS-N-19 Shipwreck surface-to-surface missiles with either nuclear or high-explosive warheads and about 500 surface-to-air missiles of different types, supplemented by a large number of other weaponry.

    Dygalo said that during the tour of duty the Russian warships would participate in joint naval exercises with the Venezuelan navy on November 10-14, in line with the 2008 training program and in order to expand military cooperation with foreign navies.

    "During the exercise, ships and naval aircraft will practice coordinated maneuvering, search-and-rescue, and communications," Dygalo said.

    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez earlier confirmed that Venezuela would hold joint naval exercises with Russian warships in the Caribbean and said the Russian navy would receive a warm welcome in the Latin American country.

    Russia announced last year that its Navy had resumed and would build up a constant presence in different regions of the world's oceans.

    A task force from the Northern Fleet, consisting of the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, the Udaloy-Class large AWS ships Admiral Levchenko and Admiral Chabanenko, as well as auxiliary vessels, conducted from December 2007 to February 2008 a two-month tour of duty in the Mediterranean Sea and North Atlantic.

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