VLADIVOSTOK, April 27 (RIA Novosti) - A new task force from Russia's Pacific Fleet has joined operations against Somali piracy off the Horn of Africa, a fleet spokesman said on Monday.
The Admiral Panteleyev destroyer, a salvage tug and two tankers have replaced a task force led by the Admiral Vinogradov destroyer, which has been involved in the anti-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia since the beginning of January.
"The task force led by the Admiral Panteleyev destroyer has arrived in a designated area in the Gulf of Aden and started to form a convoy of commercial ships to be escorted to a secure shipping lane," Capt. 1st Rank Roman Martov said.
During its recent mission in the Gulf of Aden, the Admiral Vinogradov destroyer escorted 12 convoys comprising a total of 54 ships from 17 countries, and thwarted several pirate attacks on various vessels.
Both ships are Udaloy-class missile destroyers, armed with anti-ship missiles, 30-mm and 100-mm guns, and Ka-27 Helix helicopters.
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.