somali pirate ship.jpgMOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) _ Taking a step to police its own pirate-infested shores, Somalia began forming its own navy by graduating 500 recruits who will form the backbone of its first naval force in nearly two decades.

Naval commander Admiral Farah Ahmed says the recruits graduated Tuesday and will receive $175 a month. They will be armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

He says the navy will set up bases for its boats in the ports of Bossaso, Berbera, Kismayo, and the capital of Mogadishu. Ahmed says members of the international community have pledged funds.

Somalia relies on international warships to police its lawless shores under a U.N. mandate, but they have not prevented Somali pirates from attacking scores of ships this year. Last year, pirates captured over 100 ships.

Pictured above is a Somali pirate ship.