The Iranian Navy has dispatched two warships to the Gulf of Aden to ensure security in the pirate-infested waters, Press TV reported on Monday.

It quoted Iran''s Deputy Naval Commander, Gholam-Reza Khadem, as saying the warships would replace aging vessels and protect Iranian merchant vessels and oil tankers from Somali pirates in the volatile region.

The deployment comes a week after the Iranian Navy defended one of its giant oil tankers from Somali pirates.

"Pirates have stepped up attacks on Iranian merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden, so we have decided to send two more warships to patrol the area and help keep everything under control," Khadem said.

The Iranian Navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since November when Somali raiders hijacked the Iranian-chartered cargo ship, Delight, off the coast of Yemen.

Around 35 warships from the navies of 16 countries are currently deployed off Somalia''s coast to counter frequent pirate attacks on vital commercial lanes. According to the United Nations, Somali pirates carried out at least 120 attacks on ships in 2008 alone.

Somalia has been without an effective government since the Revolutionary Socialist Party was overthrown in 1991. The internationally recognized federal government controls only the capital Mogadishu and part of central Somalia.