Russian tanker thwarts Somali pirate attack

Moscow, April 28 (Inditop) The crew of a Russian tanker has successfully repelled an attack by pirates off the Somali coast, the Russian maritime journal Sovfrakht reported Tuesday.

The NS Commander tanker, partly owned by Russia’s Novoship company and sailing under the Liberian flag, was attacked Monday by three pirate boats about 120 miles east of the Yemeni island of Sokotra.

“Using evasive manoeuvres and water from fire hoses, the tanker repelled the attack. Pirates fired at the ship with small arms but failed to cause any significant damage. The ship is on its way to the destination port in Singapore,” the journal said.

At the time of the attack, the tanker with 23 Russian crewmembers on board was about 130 miles from the Russian Admiral Panteleyev missile destroyer, which arrived in the Gulf of Eden Monday to take part in patrolling pirate-infested waters off the Somali coast.

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.

Around 20 warships from the navies of at least a dozen countries are involved in anti-piracy operations off Somalia. According to the UN, Somali pirates carried out at least 120 attacks on ships in 2008, resulting in combined ransom payouts of around $150 million.

On Sunday, an Indian warship along with a French warship and a Spanish frigate intercepted and arrested nine alleged pirates suspected of attacking the Italian cruise ship MS Melody.

The operation took place north of the Seychelles when the alleged pirates were detected near the position where the attack on the MS Melody took place late Saturday. The attackers abandoned one of their two boats, which was found by the Indian warship Nirdeshak.