The Royal Australian Navy says two of its frigates have helped stop pirates attacking ships in the Gulf of Aden.
HMAS Sydney and HMAS Ballarat were off the Yemeni coast last night (Australian time) when they heard a distress call.
The merchant ship MV-Dubai Princess was being attacked by pirates using rocket-propelled grenades, and another was also being harassed in the same area.
The Navy says the pirates fled when the Australian ships and a Sea Hawk helicopter arrived in the area.
"It appears the scene de-escalated once Sydney and Ballarat asserted their presence," the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, said.
"Their actions were swift and decisive and have contributed to intentional counter-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden."
The merchants ships were escorted to safety and the two Australian frigates have now sailed though the gulf.
Meanwhile, Somalia has asked the international community for help in setting up a coastguard to stop pirates attacking ships off its coast.
But the government says it does not want foreign forces based on Somali territory.
A Somali official has told an international anti-piracy conference in Malaysia that a well-supported Somali coastguard would be the most effective way to get piracy under control.