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Anti-piracy watch continues

15.04.2013 16:09

Alexander Novik

Warships of the Russian Navy have been fighting against Somali pirates for five years. In this period they have made 13 trips to areas of increased pirate activity, ensured the safety of navigation to 733 Russian and foreign vessels. They ensured the safety of 359 Russian citizens who were on board these ships. Over the years 2008-2012 Russian navy sailors have stopped more than a dozen pirates' attempts to seize ships sailing under the flags of different countries.

The Russian Navy ships fulfill the task of combating piracy off the Horn of Africa in cooperation with naval ships of the EU and NATO, which are fighting against pirates within the Atalanta and Ocean Shield operations. According to a statement by the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Political Military Affairs Thomas Kelly, the government of the United States appreciates Russia's participation in efforts to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia.

For the exchange of information, off the Horn of Africa for four years there have been forty meetings of commanders of warship detachments of the Russian Navy with commanders of naval task forces of foreign states. In order to improve the interaction of the Russian ships with the ships of NATO and the EU, all the ships are equipped with uniform navigation and communication aids; there are negotiations on mutual refueling of ships, using the resources of both sides.

To ensure the safety of navigation in the pirates' operating zone, combat patrol is conducted by ships of India and a number of other countries.

The Russian warships anti-piracy watch will continue in 2013 too. The Main HQ of the Russian Federation Navy has developed a plan of the Russian Navy ships' regular presence near Somalia. As stated by a speaker of the Russian Ministry of Defence, this year it is planned to organize at least three campaigns of ship detachments off the Horn of Africa. To accomplish this task the ships of all the Russian Navy fleets will be involved. In this case, with a glance to the acquired experience of meeting the challenges of combating piracy those ships will be used that are intended to act in off-shore maritime and oceanic zones, armed with a helicopter system – the appearance alone of a helicopter in the air has more than once turned the pirates' junks back.

Currently, counter piracy operations are carried out by a big antisubmarine warfare ship of the Northern Fleet "Severomorsk". But the Neustrashimy patrol ship of the Russian Baltic Fleet is already coming up to take its place with an antiterrorism group of the marines on board. Together with the Neustrashimy the Yevgeny Khorov sea tug and the Yelnya tanker set off to the shores of Somalia.

For the Neustrashimy it is the third anti-piracy watch off the Horn of Africa. The first watch was in late 2008/early 2009. Note, then the crew of the Neustrashimy fulfilled the combat mission against pirates for the first time in the recent history of the Russian Navy. The Neustrashimy's fighting experience has become the property of its followers. The second anti-piracy march of the Neustrashimy was made in 2010. For five years the Russian seamen have gained vast experience of sailing off the coast of Africa and fighting against pirates. Russian sailors perform their tasks adequately, contributing to a common cause of ensuring maritime security off the African coast.

Currently the main problem in combating pirates is still the creation of an international mechanism of criminal prosecution of persons seized on suspicion of piracy. Accordingly, the persons detained when trying to capture the civilian ship, have to be disenthraled.

The same problem is for the Russian Navy ships. With fulfilling the task of combating piracy at considerable distances from the Russian territory, a mechanism of pirates prosecution under the law of the Russian Federation is not developed for ships. In this regard, the use of ships does not allow to comply with regulations of the Criminal Procedural Code of the Russian Federation in relation to detainees, i.e. the suspects can be detained for up to 48 hours, and then - under the court decision; the absence of judicial instances and lawyers, places for detainees on shipboard. All these difficult questions need to be resolved.