Russian and British forces repelled a pirate attack on a cargo ship in the first action by a Russian warship sent to fight hijackings off Somalia, the two nations said Wednesday.

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MOGADISHU, Somalia — Russian and British forces repelled a pirate attack on a cargo ship in the first action by a Russian warship sent to fight hijackings off Somalia, the two nations said Wednesday.

Russian Navy spokesman Capt. Igor Dygalo said the Russian missile frigate Neustrashimy and the British frigate Cumberland each dispatched a helicopter and foiled pirates trying to seize the Danish vessel.

“The pirates tried to hit the ship with automatic weapons fire and made several attempts to seize it,” Dygalo said on state-run Vesti-24 television. He did not say whether the Russians or British opened fire.

The British Ministry of Defense said the incident occurred Tuesday and one of its warships had boarded a foreign-flagged dhow — a traditional wooden vessel — suspected of piracy.

Russia sent the Neustrashimy, or Intrepid, to protect its ships off Somalia’s coast after a Ukrainian freighter with three Russians aboard was hijacked in September.

The Russian navy said the Neustrashimy was escorting the CEC Commander, whose crew includes 15 Russians. The ship’s operator made an official request after pirate attacks that claimed another of the company’s ships.

Attacks have continued virtually unabated off Somalia, which has had no functioning government since 1991.

Turkish maritime officials said pirates had commandeered the Karagol, a Turkish tanker bound for India, on Wednesday 16 miles off the coast of Yemen. It was carrying 4,500 tons of chemicals and 14 Turkish personnel.

The total number of naval attacks off Somalia stood at 83 before the Karagol was seized, with 33 ships hijacked and 12 still in pirates’ hands, most notably the Ukrainian freighter.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution in June allowing ships of foreign nations that cooperate with the Somali government to enter their territorial waters. A NATO flotilla of seven vessels is also patrolling the Gulf of Aden to help the U.S. 5th Fleet in anti-piracy patrols and to escort cargo vessels.

The 5th Fleet said it has repelled about two dozen pirate attacks since Aug 22.

About 20,000 ships sail through the Gulf of Aden each year, compared with 13,000 that pass through the Panama Canal and 50,000 that traverse the Straits of Malacca — formerly the most pirate-infested waterway in the world.