Cruising Resources: Gulf of Aden / Indian Ocean / Red Sea

Gulf of Aden / Indian Ocean Transit

The coordinated efforts of the Coalition forces and International Maritime and Political bodies have had a very dramatic effect on the levels of piracy since 2011. With the decrease in pirate activity over the last couple of years there has been an increase in the number of yachts making a Red Sea passage. See the latest update on vessels making this transit here.

Red Sea Passage Facebook Group:

The Red Sea Passage Facebook Group is a closed, private group, with approx. 800 members, including people who are making the passage, those that have already done it, those that are considering this route plus a limited number of shore side support agents in Sri Lanka, India, Maldives, Djibouti, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt. This is an excellent source of information for any Red Sea passagemakers and Admin keep a spreadsheet of all yachts transiting at any one time. E-mail [email protected] to request membership. Read Wade’s update for crossing the Red Sea 2023, which includes areas to avoid, here.

Note that the maritime authorities are more concerned with attacks on commercial shipping – attacks on pleasure craft not being a high priority, or even their responsibility. They continue to publish warnings for pleasure craft considering a GOA/Indian Ocean transit.

The High Risk Area (HRA):

The High Risk Area (HRA) designation has been lifted, and this should be reflected with insurance coverage starting to be offered to vessels. In September 2021, the HRA was reduced in size, but after a decade since it was put in place – the designation has been now been removed altogether as of 1 January 2023. Despite this change, it is evident that some commercial shipping traffic are still employing specialized security services.

MSCHOA and UKMTO are still operating in the area, and yachts transiting the Gulf of Aden recommend registering your passage with both organisations (see below). Cruisers report that military ships and planes are still very active in the area.

See MSCHOA’s Advice for Sailing Vessels.

World Sailing and the RYA, who published new guidelines for yacht skippers who may be considering a passage through the Gulf of Aden, Yemeni and Somali waters, in October 2022, stress that greater use of firearms in recent months indicates an increase in aggression and risk to all mariners in the area. They stress that the danger of piracy and consequent loss of life and property in the GoA (Gulf of Aden), Yemeni and Somali waters (up to 750 miles offshore) remains high.

The regional UKHO Maritime Security Chart, Q6099 is available from the UK Hydrographic Office (

Registering your passage:

Two counter-piracy organizations monitor and advise shipping in the region. They are UKMTO and MSCHOA. All yacht/leisure craft that are strongly recommended to register its transit with both organizations as they enter the Voluntary Reporting Area.

Details of the e-mail address, contact numbers, and forms needed to register are listed in the Counter-Piracy publication BMP4. This can be found at Annex G to BMP4 gives advice for leisure craft – including yachts.

Once registered, if you do not have a satellite tracking system such as AIS, you will need to e-mail or phone in your position each day and your progress will be monitored. UKMTO recommends the use of a satellite phone because of the poor mobile phone coverage.

In the event of a suspected pirate attack in the Indian Ocean, issue a distress call over VHF Channel 16, telephone UKMTO on +971 5055 23215 or +442392222060. Follow up any call with a UKMTO After Action Report.

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