Major General Ruwais Mujawar, Commander of the Yemeni Navy, said on a Defense Ministry Website that the boat ignored several warning shots as it sped towards the warships. It sank after navy ships fired at it. He gave no further details.
Islamist militants whom the government says are part of Al Qaeda's Yemen-based arm have taken over at least 3 southern towns in recent months, including a provincial capital, while protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh drag on.
Al Qaeda has used boats in the past to attack sea-borne targets. In 2000, suicide bombers rammed an explosive-laden boat into the US navy destroyer USS Cole in the port of Aden, killing 17 sailors and wounding 40.