Mother-ship of Somalian pirates sunk by Indian Navy, 15 held



New Delhi: The Indian Navy has sunk a mother-ship of Somalian pirates and arrested 15 of them in the Arabian Sea after a gun-battle off the coast of Lakshadweep Islands.

The Thailand-registered 'Prantalay' was intercepted by Navy's Fast Attack Craft (FAC) INS Canskaro yesterday and the two vessels exchanged fire after which the pirate vessel was engulfed in flames, a Navy spokesperson said here.

The vessel was being used for piracy by Somalians at various locations in the Arabian Sea since April 2010 and posed a grave threat to merchant vessels passing through there. The pirates' mother-ship was under constant watch of the Navy since yesterday morning when a Coast Guard Dornier saved a merchant vessel from two skiffs of the Prantalay in the area.

At about 1700 hours on Friday, Cankarso closed Prantalay and made all efforts to establish communication but the vessel didn't respond and continued to proceed westwards in the hope of escaping, officials said.

The Navy craft also fired warning shots ahead of the Cankarso to compel her to stop but it opened fire at it. After the exchange of fire, "it was observed that a fire had broken out on Prantalay and personnel were also seen jumping overboard," they said.

After the incident, the Cankarso apprehended 15 pirates and also rescued the 20-member original crew of the Thai trawler, which was hijacked by pirates in April this year.

Cankarso was deployed in the area for anti-piracy patrol, was directed to intercept and investigate Prantalay.

It was subsequently joined by INS Kalpeni and CGS Sankalp and they searching for any other fishermen or pirates in the area. In addition to the anti-piracy patrols being sustained in the Gulf of Aden since Oct 2008, in view of the dangers from vessels such as Prantalay, the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard have been maintaining vigil West of the Lakshadweep Islands for the last two months leading to a 75 per cent decline in piracy related incidents in the area since December 2010.

South Eastern Arabian sea is a focal point of international traffic and the security of these sea lanes in the Arabian Sea is critical to the flow of global trade.

PTI