Navy Plans Pirate Patrol Near Africa

The Navy said Thursday that it would keep a presence off the coast of East Africa to patrol against Somali pirates.

The Navy dispatched the warship Neustrashimy to the Gulf of Aden after a Ukrainian ship with Russian tanks and sailors was hijacked in late September. The Neustrashimy, which belongs to the Baltic Fleet based in Kaliningrad, has scared off pirates trying to capture ships this month.

"After the Neustrashimy, ships from other fleets of the Russian Navy will head to the region," Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky said, RIA-Novosti reported.

Military forces across the world are trying to protect cargo ships using the sea corridor around the Horn of Africa linking Europe and Asia -- one of the busiest trade routes in the world.

The Russian Navy wants to improve its image after a series of deadly accidents. This month, 20 people died on a nuclear submarine when fire-extinguishing equipment went off, releasing a toxic gas that asphyxiated them.

It was the worst Russian naval accident since an explosion on a submarine killed 118 sailors in 2000.

Russia's ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, said Wednesday that naval action alone -- even involving a large fleet from a powerful nation -- would not be enough to defeat the pirates and that NATO, the European Union and others should launch land operations in coordination with Russia.

Reuters, MT