TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- A group of Iranian warships steamed into the Gulf of Aden, joining an expanding list of navies sent to protect shipping routes from Somali pirates, state-run media reported Saturday.
The report from Fars News Agency comes just weeks after the European Union launched its first naval operation to protect vessels and just days after China revealed its own plans to patrol the Horn of Africa's volatile coastline.
Iran, along with other countries, has seen commercial ships fall prey to pirate attacks that have dramatically increased in recent months.
This year, pirates have attacked almost 100 vessels off Somalia's coast and hijacked nearly 40, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
The attacked vessels include freight and cargo ships, cruise liners and private yachts.
In many of the hijackings, pirates have taken the crew and passengers hostage while they demand a ransom.
CNN's Shirzad Bozorgmehr contributed to this report.