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Revised Guidelines for Yachts Intending Passage through the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Basin

By Sue Richards last modified Dec 14, 2010 12:35 PM

Published: 2010-12-14 12:35:25
Topics: Piracy & Security
Countries: Somalia , Yemen

The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) as the governing authority for sailing world-wide, together with considerable assistance from the European Union Naval Force Somalia – Operation ATALANTA - and the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA), has recently revised its guidelines for yachts contemplating a passage through the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Basin.

The advice is summarised below.


Guidelines for yachts considering a passage through the Gulf of Aden and its approaches including the Indian Ocean north of 10 degrees south and west of 78 degrees east.

1. The danger of piracy and consequent loss of life and property in the GoA (Gulf of Aden), Yemeni and Somali waters remains high. Yachts are strongly recommended to avoid the area. See also advice from the UK FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) at

2. Anti-piracy patrols by warships can only offer limited protection for yachts in the area. If you are boarded by pirates, the rules of engagement prevent EU naval forces from taking steps to rescue you.

3. A yacht which, despite the risks, decides to make a passage in these waters should advise her plans to:

UKMTO (UK Maritime Trade Organisation), Royal Navy, Dubai
Telephone: +971 50 552 3215
Telex: (51) 210473

MSCHOA (Maritime Security Centre, Horn of Africa), EUNAVFOR, London
Telephone: +44 (0)1923 958 545
Fax: +44 (0)1923 958 520

Communication should preferably be by e-mail and should include full contact details for the yacht and identification features for the vessel, crew and skipper. Some check may be made on these with shore-based information. A 24-hour watch is maintained on all numbers.

US-flagged vessels and all other vessels may also contact:
Maritime Liaison Office (MARLO), US Navy, Bahrain:
Telephone: +973 3940 1395

4. Yachts should register with these organisations at least two weeks before entering the high risk area when they will be invited to provide further information.

5. On registration, UKMTO will pass details of the yacht to patrolling warships and will if possible regularly send to the yacht piracy alerts by e-mail.

6. During passage yachts should make routine reports as advised by the authorities and should monitor VHF 16 and VHF 8. VHF contact cannot, however, be guaranteed.

7. If under attack a "Mayday" call should be made using VHF or HF DSC, VHF 16 or VHF 8, Sat- C or any other means. If possible, please also contact UKMTO by telephone and pass your last known position.

For the full set of updated guidelines, visit