07 November 2015
The threat in the Somali Basin remains high.
The most recent Advisory Notice from the Authorities - 18th October 2013
Click the link below to see the latest Advisory Notice issued by the International Naval Counter Piracy Forces engaged in anti-piracy operations in the High Risk Area:
The OCC position remains that, while noting that the levels of pirate activity in the High Risk Area have declined sharply in the past nine months, and while respecting that it must be for each skipper to decide his/her route, Members should take careful note of the latest Notice, above.
On a personal note, when Pam and I sailed through these waters in spring 2007 the risk from pirates was of being boarded and robbed. Since 2008, when the pirates started to hijack yachts and hold the crew for ransom, the consequences of being taken have become immensely more serious.
If we were considering sailing those waters in 2013 we would not go there.
Dick Moore 18th October 2013
In March 2009 the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) formed a Working Party from representatives of the UK’s main yachting organisations and sought a briefing from the military authorities charged with tackling piracy in these waters. Those organisations are: The ISAF; the Royal Yacht Squadron; the Royal Cruising Club; the Royal Yachting Association; the Cruising Association, the world Cruising Club and the OCC. My name is Dick Moore and I represent the OCC, mostly because my wife Pam and I sailed our HR36 ALIESHA through the area in March 2007. The RYS is represented by our Vice Commodore, George Curtis, so the OCC may be said to have two seats at the table.
The military authorities consist of MSCHOA, EUNAVFOR, Combined Maritime Forces, NATO Shipping Centre, UKMTO and MARLO. To learn more about all of these, click the links to visit their websites.
In 2009 the ISAF Working Party produced a set of Guidance Notes for cruisers contemplating passage up or down the Red Sea. We also compiled a list of Port Captains, Marina Managers and Ship’s Agents in all the ports between Turkey and Darwin where cruising yachts tend to gather. A one page “Flyer” summarising the guidance was emailed to them all and other publicity was obtained.
Further notices were produced in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The tone has changed markedly. The 2011 version was called a “Warning Notice”. It says quite starkly “Do not sail through these waters, they are too dangerous”.
This was re-issued in March 2012 as part of an Advisory Notice aimed directly at cruising yacht skippers. There was a further Advisory in early 2013 and now this latest Notice. The advice remains the same. If you take a sailing yacht through these waters you run a real risk of being high-jacked and held for ransom. You can expect to be badly treated while negotiations for your release drag on. Your ransom will be several hundred thousand dollars for each member of your crew.
The situation at mid-October 2013
On 19th November the ISAF Working Party met at Northwood with representatives of EUNAVFOR (the Command Operation for EU naval operations in the Somali Basin), of MSCHOA, of NATO and of the US-led Coalition Forces whose principal objective is the mission in Afghanistan. This was the 5th such meeting since March 2009.
The meeting had been requested because it was clear that the level of pirate activity was very much reduced since the start of the year and so some cruising skippers had started to think it might now be reasonably safe to transit these waters.
The military were very keen to tell us (and show us pictures to reinforce their case) that, while attacks were indeed down, the pirates remained ready, willing and able to go to sea in search of targets. As merchant ships have become harder to capture softer targets such as dhows are more often attacked. Yachts are a very easy target.
As before, the reduction in pirate activity was put down to a combination of:
Continued efforts by naval forces to interdict pirate vessels
The carrying of private armed security teams on up to 50% of merchant ships transiting the area. These have rather more relaxed rules of engagement than the military!
The adoption of “Best Management Practice” by most merchant ships. This is a set of guidelines for merchant ships and their crews to follow while in dangerous waters and reflect the defensive tactics which have been found to work. They are not applicable to cruising yachts.
Some progress in creating a lawful Government in Somalia with the beginnings of a coastal force to police its own waters
We learned that those seamen who have been taken hostage and subsequently released have been subjected to extremely unpleasant treatment.
The ISAF Working Party once again readily accepted that it remains unsafe for cruising yachts to sail these waters. A new Advisory Notice to that effect has been produced and can be viewed at:
Websites worth consulting
Combined Maritime Forces (http://www.combinedmaritimeforces.com/)
NATO Shipping Centre (http://www.shipping.nato.int/)
International Sailing Federation (http://www.sailing.org/cruising)
Yacht shipping service from Sevenstar Yacht Transport
Sevenstar Yacht Transport are an international shipping company who specialise in carrying yachts. They have provided the following information. The OCC does not have any commercial arrangement with this company but a number of Members have used their service to get their yachts through the High Risk area.
Sevenstar Yacht Transport your reliable partner in transporting all around the world
As a world circumnavigator you like to plan all things in advance but still there are many unforeseen surprises coming up while sailing. One of the well planned things for your circumnavigation is the possible transport of your yacht through the piracy waters.
Since transporting your yacht from Asia to Europe is becoming more and more a part in the cruising schedule of many sailors.
Sevenstar Yacht Transport understands your boat is not a train and cannot be restricted to a tight schedule. That is why we see it as our duty to be as flexible and trustworthy as possible while transporting your precious yacht, saving you loads of fuel and taking special care of it at all times. At the same time we relieve you from any hassle involved like piracy and wear and tear of your yacht.
Our very special “Cruiser Clause”, which is applicable for the Far East to Europe yachts in March, April and May, to get your yacht safely around the world is a very good example of this.
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For further information please contact:
Jan Maarten Boissevain
Phone: +31 204488595
Mobile: +31 621534824