India Destroys Suspected Pirate 'Mother Ship'

NEW DELHI -- An Indian naval vessel sank a suspected pirate "mother ship" on Wednesday in the Gulf of Aden and chased two attack boats into the night, officials said.

Separate bands of pirates also seized a Thai ship with 16 crew members and an Iranian cargo vessel with a crew of 25 in the Gulf of Aden, where Somalia-based pirates appear to be attacking ships at will, said Noel Choong of the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Malaysia.

"It's getting out of control," Choong said.

A multicoalition naval force has increased patrols in the region and scored a rare success Tuesday when the Indian warship, operating off the coast of Oman, stopped a ship similar to a pirate vessel mentioned in numerous piracy bulletins. The Indian navy said the pirates fired on the INS Tabar after the officers asked it to stop to be searched.

"Pirates were seen roaming on the upper deck of this vessel with guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers," said a statement from the Indian navy.

Indian forces fired back, sparking fires and a series of onboard blasts -- possibly because of exploding ammunition -- and destroying the ship.

They chased one of two speedboats that had been shadowing the larger ship and that fled when the larger one sank. One was later found abandoned. The other escaped, according to the statement.

Larger "mother ships" are often used to take gangs of pirates and smaller attack boats into deep water and can be used as mobile bases to attack merchant vessels.