Sen. Jim Webb has called on Senate panels to hold hearings on the recent upsurge of piracy off the coast of Somalia.

Webb, a Virginia Democrat and former Secretary of the Navy, wrote letters to the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee saying that forceful measures must be taken to combat piracy.

"Piracy should not be tolerated," Webb said in a statement. "It is a violation of international law, and for centuries the use of force to stop it has been supported by virtually every nation."

The Democrat's efforts come on the heels of an American captain being held hostage by Somali pirates for most of a week before Navy Seals rescued him.

"I strongly believe that forceful measures should be taken to reduce piracy and prevent the kind of incidents we have seen this month off the Somali coast," Webb wrote in the letters. "Piracy should not be tolerated. It is a violation of international law, and for centuries the use of force to stop it has been supported by virtually every nation."

jeremy.jacobs@thehill.com