A U.S. cruise line company said one of its ships outran pirates who tried to attack it in the Gulf of Aden.

Miami-based Oceania Cruises said the MS Nautica was sailing through the Gulf on Saturday when two small skiffs tried to intercept it.

The captain, Jurica Brajcic, increased the Nautica's speed and took evasive maneuvers.  Oceania said one skiff closed to within 300 meters and fired eight rifle shots at the vessel before giving up the chase.

It said none of the ship's reported 680 passengers and 400 crew were injured.

Somalia-based pirates have hijacked several large ships in recent weeks despite increasing international patrols in the Gulf of Aden and off eastern Somalia.

Today, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said negotiations to release a cargo ship carrying 33 Russian-made tanks are nearly complete.  But there was no word on when the ship may be released.

Ministry spokesman Vasyl Kyrylych said the crew of the MV Faina is in "satisfactory" condition.  The pirates holding the ship initially demanded a $35 million ransom, but they later lowered their demand to a reported $3 million.

Somali pirates have hijacked some 40 ships this year, and are currently holding about 15 ships along with their crews, including a giant Saudi oil tanker.  

Kenya plans to host a regional meeting on the pirate situation December 9 in Nairobi.