Friday, September 18, 2009

China, Russia to hold anti-piracy naval drills off Somali coast


Chinese and Russian naval task forces currently on an anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden will hold joint exercises on September 18, Xinhua news agency has reported.The exercises, dubbed Blue Peace Shield 2009, will take place in the western part of the Gulf of Aden and include the practice of communications links, simulated missions to identify ships from helicopters, coordinated resupply efforts, and live firing of on-board weaponry.

The Chinese task force comprises two missile frigates and a support ship, while the Russian Navy is represented by the Admiral Tributz missile destroyer, a tug boat and a tanker from the Pacific Fleet.Admiral Tributs and the Chinese Zhoushan frigate have jointly escorted a convoy of 18 commercial ships in the Gulf of Aden this week.

Around 35 warships from the navies of 16 countries are currently deployed off Somalia's coast to counter frequent pirate attacks on key trade routes.Pirate attacks on commercial vessels in the Gulf of Aden and off the east coast of Somalia have amounted to 156 since the beginning of the year, with over 40 ships captured and at least 270 taken hostage.

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