Sources have previously told ABC News that Kenya has agreed to take custody of captured Somali pirates until they can be tried, but there is no indication where the first batch of pirates is heading.
McKnight told ABC News the answer to the pirate problem is on land -- a restoration of law and order in war-torn Somalia. Much depends on Somalia's new president, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who has promised to crack down on pirates and cooperate with U.S. Navy efforts.
The new president, however, has control over little territory, and the Somali government currently is based in the nation of Djibouti for its safety.
An Indian warship announced last year that it had sunk a pirate boat, but it later turned out that the boat was a Thai fishing vessel that was being taken over by pirates.
One of the hijacked ships that prompted the international response, the MV Faina, arrived at the port of Mombasa, Kenya, today. The Faina, which was loaded with Russian tanks and rocket-propelled grenades, was held by pirates for four months.
The ship was released last week after a $3.2 million ransom was parachuted onto the ship's deck. The Faina's crew was unhurt, except for the ship's captain, who died of a suspected heart attack during the kidnapping.
The U.S. Navy has repeatedly been sent after pirates during its history.
The first frigates the U.S. Navy ever built were intended to go after Barbary pirates, which ravaged American shipping until two wars in the early 1800s ended their reign of terror. The naval offensive is memorialized in a line in the "Marine Corps Hymn": "From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli."
Many of the pirates in those years used Tripoli, on the North African coast, as their base.
Lt. Commander Charles Daniels of the U.S. Navy Information Office said American ships battled pirates in the Gulf of Mexico before and after the Civil War, and chased pirates in the South Pacific in 1858.
The Navy was also was called upon to battle pirates around the Philippines in the early 1900s, in Asia from 1908 to 1930 and in the South China Sea in the late 1940s.