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Oct 27, 2021
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“Admiral Kulakov” slapped the pirates cuffs: “Jolly Roger” drooped in front of the Russian sailors

BOD "Vice-Admiral Kulakov", from which the Russian marines disembarked on the container ship "Lucia".  The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation reported that on October 25 in the Gulf of Guinea the container ship Lucia, flying the flag of Panama from Togo to Cameroon, was attacked by pirates

BOD “Vice-Admiral Kulakov”, from which the Russian marines disembarked on the container ship “Lucia”. The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation reported that on October 25, in the Gulf of Guinea, the container ship Lucia, flying the flag of Panama from Togo to Cameroon, was attacked by pirates (Photo: Press Service of the Russian Ministry of Defense / TASS)

The waters of the Gulf of Guinea are literally teeming with pirates. And this is not an unfounded statement – the Piracy Tracking Center (IMB) provides statistics on attacks on ships, which has doubled recently. In 2020, 84 naval attacks happened here, this year, although the result has not yet been “knocked out”, there may be even more of them. Therefore, the current attempt by pirates to hijack the container ship Lucia, sailing under the Panamanian flag, did not come as a surprise. It was not surprising that it was the Russian sailors who helped to recapture the ship.

Now a detachment of ships and vessels of the Northern Fleet of the Russian Navy operates in the Gulf of Guinea, which ensures the safety of civil navigation by monitoring the surface situation with the help of deck aviation, as well as pilotage of the ships themselves.

It includes the rescue tug “Altai”, the medium sea tanker “Akademik Pashin” and the large anti-submarine ship (BOD) “Vice-Admiral Kulakov”. It was the latter who took part in the rescue operation of the container ship “Lucia”, the crew of which consisted of 20 Ukrainian sailors, a Russian and a Romanian.

Having received a message from the International Bureau of Anti-Piracy Activities about the seizure of the ship, the commander of the Northern Sea combat detachment, Captain 1st Rank Stanislav Varik decided to go to the rescue. Taking into account that the distance was more than 80 kilometers (the VPK “Vice-Admiral Kulakov” overcame it in 2.5 hours) a K-27PS helicopter quickly flew to the container ship. His only appearance from the wall of rain – in the area there was a strong tropical downpour, plunged the pirates into a state of panic. They preferred to retreat – their fast boat, actively maneuvering, swiftly retired.

However, some of the pirates could remain on board the Lucia, so when the Kulakov approached the vessel 300 meters, high-speed boats with groups (assault and cover) from the anti-terrorist activity group, which includes the marines, were launched from it. A helicopter was also raised into the air for fire support. The operation went smoothly and smoothly, the container ship was carefully inspected, the crew, locked for safety in the hold, was free. It is clear that the joy of the sailors knew no bounds, and they could thank the saviors in a well-known language.

By the way, since 2019, the warships of the Navy have been accompanied by a Marine Corps unit, nicknamed “boarding groups”, on each voyage. Used to attract “black berets” for anti-piracy activities before – when ships were in close proximity to the zones of military conflicts in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa. Specialists of maritime counterterrorism are trained at the Marine Corps Training Center in St. Petersburg – the training process includes not only combat training (including firing from various types of small arms in a confined space), but also technical and legal. While staying in ports, these groups (their number on board depends on the class of the ship or the naval vessel) are engaged in anti-sabotage and anti-diving work. However, the main work is anti-piracy.

It is only in a children’s song that innocently sung: “We are funny pirates, we are happy to rob ships. We are not afraid of anyone, with anyone we will fight. Let’s unfold the pirate flag, take the gold. ” Modern pirates have become a serious threat to maritime shipping and earn tens of millions of dollars from their “business”. It seems that it is impossible to stop them – they are too nimble and dexterous, and it is impossible to have firearms on civilian ships. Perhaps – there would be a desire.

Not so long ago, everyone was hearing about Somali pirates, who felt at ease in the Gulf of Aden and in the waters near the Horn of Africa. Over a decade, more than 200 ships have been captured there. Now – silence, in reports of robbery seizures of ships, the Gulf of Aden has somehow ceased to appear. Now the epicenter of the “pirate freemen” has shifted to the West coast of Africa, in particular to the Gulf of Guinea, where they have now tried to seize the container ship “Lucia”. It can be assumed that the Somali pirates changed their “registration” and moved to a “fat” corner of the World Ocean, becoming Nigerian pirates.

From the Gulf of Aden, the “cheerful guys” were literally squeezed out by force – as a result of the anti-piracy operation Atalanta, in which by the end of 2009 several dozen ships from 16 countries, including Russia, were involved. Then the first successes were achieved – an Indian Navy ship destroyed a large pirate base ship, the British Navy captured and handed over several suspected Somalis in piracy to the Kenyan authorities. The pirates “identified” in the dark, who mistook the French naval tanker for a civilian dry cargo ship, were also deeply disappointed.

But the main factor in the decrease in piracy activity was the appearance of Russian warships in the region. In addition to the constant escort of tankers and bulk carriers in dangerous waters, Russian sailors are remembered for their decisive and sometimes tough measures to counter Somali pirates. Presumably, they didn’t turn up on the yard, but lethal fire was used regularly, which, however, was not particularly advertised in front of the eyes of tolerant Western colleagues.

The operation to free the tanker “Moscow University” flying the Liberian flag but with a Russian crew on board in the Gulf of Aden on May 6, 2010 became a resonant one. The day before, an oil tanker was attacked by pirates at a distance of 500 nautical miles (930 km) from the coast of Somalia in neutral waters. The Russian BOD Marshal Shaposhnikov came to the rescue and received a signal for help.

The navy and the marines got down to business. When the Ka-26 helicopter flew out for reconnaissance was fired upon by pirates, machine-gun fire was opened on them – the pilots knew that the crew was in cover. In the morning, high-speed inflatable boats went on the assault and after a small skirmish, special forces took the ship under control and disarmed the pirates. The entire operation took less than half an hour.

The fate of the pirates was sad – none of them reached the Somali coast. According to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, they were released – they were landed in an inflatable boat with a small supply of water and food, but without means of communication and navigation. It is likely that they could not reach the coast and drowned in the sea. According to another version, already of the Somali side, which was voiced by an unnamed representative of the pirates, they were shot, and their floating craft were sunk. However, there was no global scandal – they settled on the Russian version.

More “humane” can be considered the actions of another Russian BOD – “Admiral Panteleev”, carrying out a mission to combat pirates off the coast of Somalia. Having detained the vessel with the Jolly Roger, which the day before had tried to seize the Russian tanker NS Commander, and after making sure that it had weapons, assault ladders, a large number of spent cartridges on the deck in a pirate vessel’s accessories, it was simply blown up. The pirates themselves, including one wounded in the buttocks (they knew where to target), were handed over to the local authorities. “Admiral Panteleev”, by the way, more than once detained robber ships, including with the help of a helicopter, from which the inspection group was disembarking. The vessels were destroyed on the spot – for the edification of others.

It is no accident that Kenyan pirates in the Gulf of Guinea turned their shafts when a Russian helicopter appeared over the hijacked ship. They knew that a warship would come next, but such a meeting was clearly not part of their plans. And the armament of the Ka-27PS, despite the fact that it is a search and rescue helicopter, would be enough to send the pirate vessel to the bottom.

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