China asked the U.S. on March 16 for help removing the ships from the U.N. blacklist.
About 500 people were on board two sinking ships.
After the shots, the cargo vessel turned to the national waters of the United Arab Emirates, where that country protected it using its coast guard.
Air crews raced to rescue as many of the hundreds trapped on board as possible before nightfall as storms hampered seaborne operations.
The Australian defence ministry confirmed that a small fleet of Russian ships was heading for eastern Australia, ahead of the G20 conference in Brisbane