Vietnam's Navy remains on-guard against pirates

By Mai Thanh Hai, Thanh Nien News

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The siren on the Ly Thai To blared as the frigate entered the pirate-prone Malacca Strait one afternoon in mid-November.
A warning from the speaker summoned the crew to battle stations as “a possible pirate vessel has been spotted.”
Soldiers who had been cleaning and cooking disappeared at once, before another order instructed a Thanh Nien reporter to “step inside and close the door.”
Noises of doors shutting, sirens blaring, and shipmen running on deck with their guns clattering rang through the ship's interior.
After a while, Lt. Col. Nguyen Van Hien, the frigate's second-in-command stepped inside with a smile.
It was only a drill.
“We make the crew practice regularly so they are accustomed to the situation,” Hien said.
The precaution is performed and repeated the same way on the Dinh Tien Hoang, a frigate of the same make that's accompanying the Ly Thai To on several friendly port calls throughout the ASEAN bloc.
The two Gepard-class frigates were built by the Zelenodolsk shipyard in Russia and delivered to Vietnamese Navy in 2011 under a US$350 million contract. They were named after King Dinh Tien Hoang (924-979) and King Ly Thai To (974-1028).
Vietnam will receive a second pair of the Russian-made frigates with antisubmarine weapons in late 2016.
The crew of the Thai To appeared to stiffen its guard after entering international waters.
Hien said they became more cautious about pirates after a Vietnamese tanker was attacked and robbed of half of its 5,200 ton diesel cargo while making its way from Singapore to Vietnam on October 2.
One of the Ly Thai To's shipmen said a light machine gun, a heavy machine gun and a canon were ready for use at any time.
“We are not going to be attacked by surprise,” he said.
The two Gepard-class frigates were built by the Zelenodolsk shipyard in Russia and delivered to Vietnamese Navy in 2011 under a US$350 million contract. They were named after King Dinh Tien Hoang (924-979) and King Ly Thai To (974-1028).
Vietnam will receive a second pair of the Russian-made frigates with antisubmarine weapons in late 2016.

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