VLADIVOSTOK, September 18 (RIA Novosti) - Russian and Chinese warships have begun live firing drills in the Gulf of Aden as part of anti-piracy exercises, a Pacific Fleet official said on Friday.
The three-day exercises will include Russia's Admiral Tributs destroyer and two Chinese warships, the Zhoushan and Xuzhou, along with a number of support vessels, and will focus on seek and detain operations.
"A new element in these exercises will be the search, location and detention of a dummy pirate vessel," the official told RIA Novosti.
After the exercises end on September 20, the Russian warship will resume its work to escort commercial vessels through waters off the Somali coast.
The third Russian task force from the Pacific Fleet, led by the Admiral Tributs with two helicopters on board, arrived in the Gulf of Aden on July 30.
The previous two task forces from the Pacific Fleet were led by the Admiral Vinogradov and Admiral Panteleyev destroyers.
The fleet's warships have escorted over 100 Russian and foreign commercial ships and thwarted several attacks by pirates since January 2009.
The Pacific Fleet will send a fourth task force, comprising a missile destroyer, two support ships and a naval infantry unit, to the Gulf of Aden after Admiral Tributs finishes its current anti-piracy mission in the region at the end of October.
Around 35 warships from the navies of 16 countries are currently deployed off Somalia's coast to counter frequent pirate attacks on key trade routes.
Pirate attacks on commercial vessels in the Gulf of Aden and off the east coast of Somalia have amounted to 148 since the beginning of the year, with over 40 ships captured and at least 270 taken hostage.