Navy, coast guard ships sink pirate mother-vessel

Saturday, January 29, 2011

NEW DELHI - A pirate mother ship of Somali pirates was sunk by an Indian naval fast-attack craft in a gun battle in the Arabian Sea off Lakshadweep Islands Friday evening, an official said.

Indian warships were chasing the pirates’ mother-vessel, identified as a Thai fishing trawler Prantalay, when the two sides engaged in a gunfight leading to the latter going up in flames, a navy spokesperson said here Saturday.

Prantalay had been captured by the sea brigands in April last year and since then the pirates have been using it as their mother vessel to which skiffs (smaller motor boats) are fastened so that attacks on merchant vessels can be launched out in the high seas.

Prantalay had been noticed by a Coast Guard Dornier patrol aircraft while responding to a mayday call from Bahamas-flagged merchant container vessel, CMA CGM Verdi, at 10.30 a.m. Friday when two pirate skiffs were noticed closing in to carry out an attack.

Though the pirates fled from the area on noticing the coast guard aircraft flying down and making a pass over the container vessel, the navy and coast guard sent their ships to track Prantalay.

The navy and coast guard ships closed in on Prantalay around 5 p.m. and INS Cankarso fired the warning shot. The pirates returned fire, forcing the navy fast attack craft to respond in equal measure, resulting in the fishing trawler going up in flames.

The pirates on board Prantalay were noticed jumping off the fishing trawler into the waters, the spokesperson said, adding that Cankarso picked up 20 original crew members of Prantalay of Thai and Myanmarese nationalities. The 15 pirates, who jumped overboard from Prantalay, too were captured by the naval craft

INS Cankarso was subsequently joined by INS Kalpeni and CGS Sankalp. Naval and coast guard ships and aircraft are at present in the area searching for any other fishermen and pirates.

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