368 Thai naval personnel leave for international anti-piracy mission off Somali coast

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CHON BURI, July 12 – The second deployment of the Royal Thai Navy anti-piracy unit with 368 naval personnel left Thailand Tuesday morning to join the international operations countering piracy off the coast of Somalia for a 140-day deployment in the Giulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.

Royal Thai Navy Commander-in-Chief Adm Kamthorn Pumhiran presided over the embarkation of the anti-piracy squadron at Sattahip Naval Base in Thailand’s eastern province of Chon Buri.

Two ships assigned to the mission, HTMS Similan and HTMS Narathiwat, have sailed for the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, and the Indian Ocean off the Somali coast and are set to return to the kingdom in November.

The latest departure followed the successful anti-piracy missions by the first assigned Thai naval unit in 2010.

Last year’s operations successfully protected  numbers of Thai owned and flagged cargo ships from robbery as well as helped the 23-member crew of a Thai fishing vessel who were robbed and floated in a life raft in those waters. They later returned to Thailand safely.

In addition, the duties and tasks of the Thai anti-piracy operations by the first  Thai naval unit were acknowledged by other nations joining the mission.

The Gulf of Aden is located in the Arabian Sea between Yemen and Somalia. It connects with the Red Sea and is part of the important Suez Canal shipping route with some 21,000 ships passing through annually.

Rising piracy and armed robbery in the designated waters have resulted in economic problems to many countries, especially those whose economies depend on maritime commerce.

Thai-flagged ships have been seized by Somali pirates on several occasions.