SINGAPORE - Singapore is joining international anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden for the ninth time since 2009.
On Monday, 151 sailors, soldiers and airmen left for a three-month stint to protect merchant ships against pirate attacks in the waters off Somalia. They set off on board the Republic of Singapore Navy's stealth frigate RSS Tenacious carrying a Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk naval helicopter.
The contingent is being led by Colonel Ken Cheong Kwok Chien, the commander of the RSN's 1st Flotilla, who has commanded previous anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden. He and his men will join the multinational Combined Task Force 151, which includes the United States, Britain and Pakistan, to patrol the area.
Speaking at Monday's send-off ceremony in Changi Naval Base, navy chief Ng Chee Peng said that by supporting international counter-piracy efforts, Singapore is being "a responsible member of the international community and a maritime nation".
"These piracy attacks disrupt key sea lines of communication and maritime trade as well as affect the safety of seafarers," added Rear-Admiral (two star) Ng.
The latest Singapore Armed Forces mission comes on the back of figures from the International Maritime Bureau showing that piracy incidents off Somalia dropped to a seven-year low last year. The Gulf of Aden, which connects the Red Sea with the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, saw 15 attacks, down sharply from 75 in 2012 and 237 in 2011.
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