On Thursday the US Fifth Fleet announced the establishment of a new international naval force to fight off pirates in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean following a wave of hijackings off the coast of Somalia.

The force is expected to be fully operational in late January and will have the backing of more than 20 nations.

According to the International Maritime Bureau the number of highjackings has decreased since December last year.

Last year there were more than 100 attacks.

Ships from other navies, including Canada, Iran, India and China, have also been patrolling one of the world's busiest sea lanes - the waters of the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean leading to and from the Suez Canal.