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Transiting from Maldives to Djibouti in March 2017

By SY Sanuk 2 — last modified Apr 12, 2017 09:18 AM

Published: 2017-04-11 23:00:00
Topics: Indian Ocean , Piracy & Security
Countries: Djibouti , Maldives , Yemen

We left the northern Maldives, from Uligamu, on March 09 sailing to the entry of the so called Internationally Recommended Safety Corridor (IRTC) that is followed by most of commercial vessels. The IRTC is marked on CM or Navionics.  We registered with UKMTO and MSCHOA by their relevant form sheets:

Useful Contact Details

UKMTO
Email: Watchkeepers@UKMTO.org
or  UKMTO@eim.ae
Telephone (24hrs): +44 (0) 2392 222060 or  +971 50 552 3215

MSCHOA
Via Website for reporting: www.mschoa.org
Email: postmaster@mschoa.org
Telephone: +44 (0) 1923 958545
Fax: +44 (0) 1923 958520

UKMTO:

The UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) office in Dubai is the first point of contact for ships in the region. The day-to-day interface between Masters and Naval/Military forces is provided by UKMTO, which talks to merchant ships and liaises directly with MSCHOA and Naval Commanders at sea and ashore.
Merchant vessels are strongly encouraged to send regular reports to UKMTO.
These comprise:
1. Initial Report,
2. Daily Reports  (with active AIS on you need not send those)
3. Final Report (upon departure from the high risk area or arrival in port).

MSCHOA:

The Maritime Security Centre - Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) is the planning and coordination centre for EU Naval forces (EUNAVFOR). MSCHOA encourages Companies to register their vessels' movements prior to entering the High Risk Area (including the International Recommended Transit Corridor 'IRTC'). They want their registration form completely answered, also when questions seem not applicable for yachts.

IRTC fom 45 E to 53 E, core risk area 47E to 49 E

Somali Pirate Activity: The High Risk Area

The High Risk Area (HRA) is an area within the UKMTO designated Voluntary Reporting Area (VRA) where it is considered there is a higher risk of piracy.

In the Red Sea: northern limit: Latitude 15°N
In the Gulf of Oman: northern limit: Latitude 22°N
Eastern limit: Longitude 065°E
Southern limit: Latitude 5°S

MSCHOA liaises with anti-piracy patrols being conducted by warships from several nations in the area. The patrols operate mainly in the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Basin, however no guarantee can be offered as to the safe transit of any yacht through these waters, and no dedicated escort can be expected.

However a yacht/leisure craft which, despite the advice to stay out of the HRA, decides on such a passage, is strongly recommended to register its transit with MSCHOA.

Preparation

A vessel should carry UK Admiralty Anti-Piracy Chart - Q6099 in addition to its holdings of navigation charts. (We did not).

Yachts are urged to register with MSCHOA and UKMTO prior to entering the High Risk Area. (We did, via all the forms available on the websites).

During her passage a yacht should monitor VHF 16 and VHF 8 or as advised by patrolling warships.

Current advice is to leave AIS switched on and transmitting whilst transiting the Gulf of Aden. In the Somali basin or further into the Indian Ocean it remains the Captain's decision as to the status of his AIS transmission. However AIS should be switched on if the yacht is aware of military forces or is under attack.

We found that active AIS on is extremely helpful when sailing amid or aside of the big vessels that come with 12-20 kn from behind. They will usually keep a nice CPA distance if they see you ahead, or will at least alter course if you call them from a 5 miles distance. Hundreds of such vessels will pass you on that passage, so being invisible to them gives you and them a lot of stress.

A Japanese Navy reconnaissance plane overflew us couple of times and seeks contact.

In Summary

We felt protected by the coalition warships and had no sight of skiffs or suspicious motherships except for one such vessel peacefully crossing the lanes on a southerly course, presumably en route from Yemen mainland to Socotra.

We arrived safely in Djibouti on March 28, 2017.

We hope some of above information might be useful for other yachts considering this passage

Josef Oehlinger
SY Sanuk 2

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