Battle off Minicoy Island

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Battle off Minicoy Island
Part of the Piracy in Somalia, Operation Island Watch
Date January 28, 2011
Location off Minicoy Island, India, Indian Ocean
Result Indian victory
Belligerents
 India Somali Pirates
Commanders and leaders
India Arun Bahuguna unknown
Strength
1 fast attack craft 1 trawler
Casualties and losses
none 10 killed
15 captured
1 trawler sunk

The Battle off Minicoy Island was a single ship action in January 2011 between Indian naval forces and Somali pirates, during Operation Island Watch. Pirates in the former Thai fishing trawler Prantalay 14 resisted and attacked the Indian Navy warship Cankarso and, in a long surface action off Minicoy Island, the Indians sank the hostile ship and rescued twenty captives.1

Battle

The Prantalay 14 had operated as a pirate mothership in the Indian Ocean for several months before her sinking. Early in the morning of January 28, Indian Coast Guard Dornier aircraft on a routine patrol detected two skiffs and the Prantalay 14 chasing the Bahamian container ship MV Verdi 300 miles west of the Lakshadweep Islands. The pirates in the skiffs spotted the aircraft and immediately abandoned the attack and sailed back to the Prantalay 14. The aircraft reported the sighting and three Indian Navy ships were dispatched, including the 325 ton INS Cankarso. A Car Nicobar fast attack craft under the command of Commander Arun Bahuguna. Cankarso was armed with a 30-millimeter CRN 91 naval gun and two 12.7-millimeter machine guns. A few hours after receiving the Coast Guard's report Cankarso found the Prantalay 14 about 100 nautical miles north of Minicoy. The Cankarso's radioman tried to contact the pirates, but was ignored, so a warning shot was fired towards the pirates, who returned fire with rocket propelled grenades and AK-47s. An exchange of fire commenced and lasted for twelve hours before shots from the CRN 9 heavily damaged the trawler.23

Fuel drums that were stowed on the upper deck ignited and the Prantalay 14 began to burn. At that point the survivors abandoned ship so the Indians ceased firing. Thirty-five men went into the water, of whom fifteen were pirates and twenty were Thai and Myanmarese sailors on the vessel when the pirates captured it. Ten pirates were killed in the engagement, and the rest were taken to Mumbai in the Cankarso as prisoners. There are no indications that any Indian sailors were harmed. Mumbai Police have confirmed that they have registered a case against the pirates for attempt to murder and various other provisions under the Indian Penal Code and Foreigners Act after entering national waters without authorization. Prantalay 14 burned for hours before sinking, during which the INS Kalpeni and the Coast Guard ship CGS Sankalp arrived and assisted in rescue operations. A week or so later, Indian naval forces of Operation Island Watch captured the Prantalay 11, another former Thai trawler which had been captured by pirates.456

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