Pirate Attack Foiled By Russian Warship

Warships.ruThe warship Admiral Vinogradov, which thwarted a pirate attack Tuesday.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A Russian warship helped foil a pirate attack on a Dutch container ship in the dangerous Gulf of Aden, a maritime watchdog and the Russian Navy said Wednesday.

Six pirates fired rocket-propelled grenades Tuesday at the ship, which took evasive maneuvers while calling for help, said Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Malaysia.

The pirates chased the vessel for about 30 minutes in the waters off Somalia but aborted their attempt to board after a Russian warship and helicopter arrived, Choong said.

Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said a Ka-27 helicopter was sent from the Admiral Vinogradov warship on patrol off the Horn of Africa and fired at three suspected pirate speedboats that were trying to attack the Dutch ship.

He said three pirates were wounded.

Dygalo said one of the speedboats was halted near Yemeni waters and Russian teams from the Admiral Vinogradov boarded the other two, finding ropes with grappling hooks and gas canisters but no fishing equipment.

Pirates last year attacked 111 ships and seized 42 off the Horn of Africa, many in the Gulf of Aden. An international flotilla including U.S. warships has stopped many attacks, but the area is too vast to keep all ships safe in the vital sea lane that leads to the Suez Canal and is the quickest route from Asia to Europe.

Choong said it was nevertheless getting harder for Somali pirates to hijack ships because of increased naval patrols and the vigilant watch kept by ships that pass through the area.

"The attacks are continuing, but successful hijackings by pirates have [been] reduced," he said.

There have been 11 attacks in Somali waters so far this year, with two ships hijacked. In total, 11 vessels with 210 crew members remain in pirate hands, Choong said.

Russia sent a warship to the area in September after Somali pirates hijacked a Ukrainian freighter, the Faina, with a cargo of battle tanks and three Russian crew members. One of the crew members has since died of an illness, but the ship remains under the control of the hijackers.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, and its lawless coastline is a haven for pirates. The multimillion-dollar ransoms are one of the only ways to make money in the nation.