The U.S. Coast Guard strongly advises against all operation of and travel by U.S. yachts and sailing craft, or by U.S. citizens on foreign registered yachts and sailing craft, on the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Somali Basin and the western parts of the Indian Ocean. A U.S. registered sailing vessel was hijacked by pirates in February 2011 off the southern coast of Oman in the northern Arabian Sea and all of its crew were tragically killed. This case is a stark reminder of the grave dangers of operating in these high risk waters, especially by recreational vessels.
All mariners already in these waters are urged 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 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel: +971 50 552 3215), giving location, course and speed, and plan their routing carefully to reduce the risk of an attack.
Piracy is a significant threat in the Gulf of Aden and the northwest Indian Ocean and has occurred in excess of 1000 nautical miles from the coast of Somalia. Up-to-date information about attacks and pirated vessels can be referenced from the EU Naval Force Somalia web site at http://www.eunavfor.eu. Sailing vessels are particularly vulnerable to attack due to their low speed and low freeboard. All mariners intending to sail through high risk areas should reconsider the necessity of their travel and alternatives, such as transporting the vessel by yacht carrier.
Participants in yacht races and rallies in these high risk areas are at great risk of attack. These events are often publicized and could draw attention from pirates, despite the security and safety measures that might be put in place. The U.S. Coast Guard strongly advises mariners not to participate in events that will require transit through high risk waters.
Requirements and amplifying guidance promulgated by the U.S. Coast Guard for commercial vessels intending to transit high risk waters are unaffected by this advisory.
Source: USCG’s Boating Safety Center
Photo: The S/V Quest was hijacked by pirates in February 2011 off the southern coast of Oman in the northern Arabian Sea and all of its crew were tragically killed