Russia, India begin joint anti-piracy operations off Somalia

Jamal Osman, Somalia Correspondent – Defence Professionals GmbH

18:28 GMT, January 27, 2009 The two nations have revealed on Tuesday that they will make naval drills off Somalia, where by pirates have been operating for the past 3 years.

The Russian and Indian navies have started joint naval exercises in the Arabian Sea off the Indian coast, as well as they will start an other operation in the Gulf of Aden, an Indian military source said today.

The operation was named as (INDRA) and it is a biennial Russian-Indian exercise aimed at practicing cooperation in enforcing maritime law and countering piracy, terrorism and drug smuggling. INDRA-2009 is the fourth such exercise since 2003 and will involve a number of live-fire drills.

India and Russia have been doing anti piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and sent warships off Somali waters, briefly after UN endorsed an anti piracy mission off Somalia last year.

pyotr-velky

Russia’s Pyotr Veliky missile cruiser (pictured above) from the Northern Fleet and the Indian guided-missile destroyer INS Delhi are taking part in the first stage, which will last until January 29, the sources added. An Udaloy class destroyer, a tugboat and two fuel tankers, which are carrying out anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden will be sent to Somalia before the end of this month.

On the other hand the commander of a U.S.-led fleet Rear Admiral Terry McKnight said that an increased naval presence in the Gulf of Aden has “dramatically” cut piracy off the coast of Somalia.

There have been four successful pirate attacks in or around the Gulf of Aden since the start of December, Rear Admiral Terry McKnight said in a telephone interview today from the USS San Antonio in the Gulf of Aden. There were at least 12 successful attacks in November alone, he says.

“The pirates can look out and see a lot of navy ships out there and it’s been a deterrent,” he said. “This is a coalition of many nations. We are out there and we are working together.”

Pirates have been increasingly active in the waters off Somalia, where over 110 ships were attacked in 2008, with 42 vessels seized and 815 crew members abducted. Up to 20 warships from the navies of at least 10 countries are involved in anti-piracy operations off the coast of the lawless East African nation.



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