MOSCOW: Russia’s Admiral Panteleyev missile destroyer has detained a boat carrying 29 suspected pirates off the Somali coast, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.
A new task force from Russia’s Pacific Fleet led by the destroyer joined anti-piracy operations on Monday off the Horn of Africa.
“A search of the detained vessel resulted in the discovery of seven Kalashnikov assault rifles, several handguns, portable navigation equipment, fuel canisters, and a large number of spent cartridges,” the ministry said in a statement.
“This leads us to believe that these pirates could have been involved in two unsuccessful attacks on a Liberian-flagged tanker with a Russian crew on board, which passed through this area on Tuesday with a shipment of oil en route to Singapore. The total number of people detained is 29,” the statement said.
The Russian maritime journal Sovfrakht reported on Tuesday that the NS Commander tanker, partly owned by Russia’s Novoship company, had been attacked by Somali pirates on Monday about 120 miles east of the Yemeni island of Sokotra.
The 23-men crew successfully repelled the attempted hijack and the ship continued on its way to its destination.
At the time of the attack, the tanker was about 130 miles from the Admiral Panteleyev, which is an Udaloy-class missile destroyer armed with anti-ship missiles, 30-mm and 100-mm guns, and Ka-27 Helix helicopters.
A senior Russian navy official said later on Wednesday the navy was holding talks with littoral states along the Gulf of Aden as it looked to hand over the pirates.
“We are holding talks with foreign officials on the pirates,” the official said. “We plan to hand them over to a regional country soon for investigation.”
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.