Mediterranean under threat from Somali-style piracy from fighters loyal to Islamic State

A report by the Italian Ministry of Defence warned that ISIS had already taken control of Libyan ports and boats and, “could repeat the scenario that has dominated the maritime region between Somalia and Aden for the last ten years”.

It added: “Speed boats could attack fishing boats, cruise ships, small merchant ships, as well as coast guards in this case more to capture prisoners to exhibit in orange jumpsuits.”

Chris Parry, Rear Admiral, has warned ISIS pirates would pose a greater danger to shipping and yachting than the Somalis because they are more sufficiently armed.

He said: “You are going to get them turning up with surface-to-air missiles. Helicopters are going to come down if you are not careful.”

He added that Isis would hold an “endless supply” of fighters and weapons from Syria and Libya.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the Mediterranean constitutes about 15 per cent of global shipping activity.

Piracy could end leisure sailing, damage the cruise industry and increase living costs for Europeans, with cargo forced to travel by road and rail. In 2014, over 17,000 ships passed through the channel.

Gerard Batten UKIP MEP has spoken out about the latest threat, voicing concern about Britain’s defences. “In the past, the royal navy eradicated piracy,” he said.

“Now, our defences have been so run down that it’s doubtful we could ever mount a serious, independent action against them.”

“Even when the royal navy combated piracy off Somalia, the captured pirates were treated with kid gloves and protected by the Court of Human Rights.”

“They should be destroyed at sea,” Mr Batten added.