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Russian warships sail to Horn of Africa on anti-piracy mission


VLADIVOSTOK, March 29 (RIA Novosti) - A task force from Russia's Pacific Fleet left Vladivostok on Sunday for the Gulf of Aden to take part in ongoing anti-piracy operations.

The Admiral Panteleyev destroyer, a salvage tugboat, and a tanker will replace a task force led by the Admiral Vinogradov destroyer, which has been involved in the anti-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia since the beginning of January.

"Russia has again entrusted sailors of the Pacific Fleet with the task to participate in a difficult but honorable international operation to thwart piracy off the Horn of Africa. This is a complex task because pirates are acting aggressively and understand only the language of weapons," Vice Admiral Konstantin Sidenko, commander of the Pacific Fleet, said at the departing ceremony.

The Admiral Panteleyev is an Udaloy class missile destroyer, armed with anti-ship missiles, 30-mm and 100-mm guns, and Ka-27 Helix helicopters.

The Admiral Vinogradov and the Boris Butoma tanker have completed their anti-piracy mission around the Horn of Africa and are expected to return to their home base in Vladivostok at the beginning of April.

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.

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