No Go Zone

A top NATO official has warned teenage Dutch yachtswoman Laura Dekker not to attempt a transit via the Gulf of Aden, even in a convoy of vessels.

The chief of staff at one of NATO’s maritime headquarters, Rear Admiral Hank Ort, has told Radio Netherlands Worldwide that all sailors, including 15-year-old Ms Dekker, should avoid the “extremely dangerous area”.

She is attempting to become the youngest person ever to sail solo round the world. Like other sailors before her, she may want to steer a course through the Gulf of Aden in a convoy of dozens of other vessels, although that has not been decided yet..

Yachtsmen have requested NATO or EU protection for the crossing but Admiral Ort says the primary task of NATO and the European Union ships in the region is to protect merchant shipping from Somali pirates. He says NATO “regularly receives this sort of request”, but that there is no capacity to provide protection to “unessential sailing trips” and says the idea of a convoy of sailing ships should be dropped.

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