TEHRAN, (Reuters) – Iran said on Saturday it had dispatched a warship to the Gulf of Aden to protect Iranian vessels against pirates hijacking ships, state radio reported.
Pirates have caused havoc in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes this year, hijacking dozens of ships including a Saudi Arabian supertanker loaded with $100 million worth of oil.
An Iranian-chartered vessel was seized near Yemen on Nov. 18. Another vessel, the Iran Deyanat, was seized in August and released in October.
“An Iranian warship entered the Gulf of Aden to protect Iranian commercial ships against pirates there,” state radio quoted an unnamed Iranian navy official as saying.
More than a dozen foreign warships are in the area trying to guard shipping, but analysts say the area the pirates operate in is enormous.
Iran, a major oil exporter, has repeatedly said it could use force against pirates hijacking ships if deemed necessary. “The Gulf of Aden is an international area … Iran’s armed forces will carry out any decision made by their superiors,” said the official.
The sharp increase in attacks this year off Somalia has been fuelled by a growing Islamist insurgency onshore and the lure of multi-million-dollar ransoms.