Sailing Into Danger

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated its advice for all but but essential travel by yacht and leisure craft on the high seas (more than 12 nautical miles from shore) in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and part of the Indian Ocean bounded by the following latitude and longitude:  15°N in the Red Sea, 23°N in the Arabian Sea, 78°E and 15°S in the Indian Ocean.

The FCO urges all merchant shipping, including Cruise Ships, to comply with agreed shipping industry best practice on self-defence measures, including on speed, routing and maintaining adequate lookout.

Sailing vessels are particularly vulnerable to attack due to their low speed and low freeboard. We advise against all but essential travel by yacht and leisure craft on the high seas in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and part of the Indian Ocean, as bounded by the latitude and longitude coordinates above. All mariners intending to sail through high risk areas should consider the necessity of their travel and alternatives, such as transporting the vessel by yacht carrier.

Yacht races and rallies do not have to take place in these high risk areas and place their competitors at unnecessary risk of attack. These events are often publicised and could draw attention from pirates. We advise mariners not to take part in these races.

We urge mariners to register with the Maritime Security Centre (Horn of Africa) for up to date advice and guidance on passage round the Horn of Africa. They should also report regularly to the UKMTO giving their location, course and speed, and plan their routing carefully so as to avoid placing themselves in unnecessary danger.

Useful contacts

The UK Maritime Trade Organisation (UKMTO) in Dubai is the primary point of contact for liaison with military forces in the region.  Email at to join their voluntary reporting scheme, Tel: +971 50 552 3215, Telex: (51) 210473.
Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) is manned 24/7 by military and merchant navy personnel from various countries and coordinates with military maritime forces in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. It is the commercial/civilian link with the EU Naval Force Somalia. Tel: +44 1923 958545, Fax: +44 1923 958 520, email:
The NATO Shipping Centre (NSC) is the commercial/civilian link with the NATO maritime force. Tel: +44 1923 956 574, Fax: +44 1923 956 575, email:

The Maritime Liaison Office (MARLO), US Navy Bahrain, is a secondary point of contact after UKMTO and MSCHOA, but is manned 24/7. Tel: +973 3940 1395, email:

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