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U.S. Navy frigate captures pirate mother ship

U.S. Navy frigate exchanges fire with pirates, captures 5 and confiscates mother ship.
/ Source: NBC News and news services

U.S. naval forces said Thursday they've captured five pirates after exchanging fire with them, sinking their skiff and confiscating a mother ship.

The USS Nicholas was just west of the Seychelles in international waters Thursday when crew began taking fire from a suspected pirate skiff, NBC News reported. The Nicholas returned fire and disabled the pirate boat, then pursued the skiff until it finally broke down.

The U.S. sailors were able to board the skiff and arrest three suspected pirates. On board, the sailors found ammunition and several cans of fuel, NBC News reported.

A short time later, the sailors were able to take control of a nearby mother ship and detained two more suspected pirates.

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.

The U.S. Africa Command said the five pirates seized would remain in U.S. custody on board the frigate. The Nicholas is home-ported in Norfolk, Va.

International naval forces have stepped up their enforcement of the waters off East Africa in an effort to thwart a growing pirate trade.

Experts say piracy will continue to be a problem until an effective government is established on Somalia's lawless shores. The country has not had a functioning government for 19 years.