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British frigate supports safe aid shipment

MOGADISHU, Somalia, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- The first large multi-ship escort protecting critical humanitarian aid to Somalia has been completed by a British Royal Navy frigate.

The first escort, as part of the European Union's Atalanta operation deployed to the Gulf of Aden, has been completed by the Royal Navy's HMS Northumberland frigate, the British Ministry of Defense reported.

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HMS Northumberland and a detachment of Royal Marines escorted four merchant vessels carrying critical humanitarian aid for the World Food Program's distribution to the war-torn Somalia.

The deployment of the Royal Navy frigate is an initiative by the European Union to counter the escalating threats off the coast of Somalia where a growing number of multimillion-dollar cargo ships have been taken hostage by pirates.

"This has been the first large multi-ship escort task during Operation Atalanta, and I am pleased to say that, like our previous escort missions, this one was successful and without incident," Martin Simpson, HMS Northumberland commanding officer, said in a statement.

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