In an appearance on ABC's "This Week" program, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen said new international agreements would allow the United States to protect cargo shipments in Somali waters and try pirates.
"What you really have to have is a coordinating mechanism that ultimately brings these pirates to court, where they can be held accountable," Allen said.
Allen's comments came the same day a U.S. ship captain, Richard Phillips, kidnapped by pirates off the Somali coast jumped to freedom from the lifeboat where he was being held.
CNN reported that Phillips, 53, was uninjured and was taken aboard the USS Bainbridge and later flown to the USS Boxer.
"We need to create a viable, effective, legal mechanism to hold these people accountable and so that doesn't have to be their options," Allen said.
Navy SEALs killed three of Phillips' captors.