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HMS Northumberland ends piracy mission

DEVONPORT, England, March 26 (UPI) -- The British Royal Navy's HMS Northumberland has concluded a six-month deployment protecting aid ships from piracy in the volatile Gulf of Aden.

HMS Northumberland returned to Devonport, England, after its deployment supporting the European Union's Atalanta mission escorting World Food Program ships to Somalia.

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During the operation, the HMS Northumberland, a Type 23 frigate in the Royal Navy fleet, successfully helped to escort enough food to feed approximately 2.5 million people for a month, the British Ministry of Defense reported.

The EU Atalanta operation was part of an effort to counter the ongoing threat of piracy off the coast of Somalia. In 2008 pirates were responsible for attacking approximately 100 vessels. Additionally, as many as 40 ships were hijacked, which prompted millions of dollars in ransom to be paid.

"We had many successes in the Gulf of Aden on counter-narcotics duties and general policing of the sea to counter destabilizing activities, basically anything illegal on the water," Cmdr. Martin Simpson, HMS Northumberland commanding officer, said in a statement.

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