By invitation from the EU Naval Force and co-ordinated by the International Sailing Federation a group of cruising sailors met on the 19 October 2010 at the EU naval headquarters, Northwood, London, to discuss anti-piracy measures in the Gulf of Aden, the Horn of Africa and the Somali Basin.
The group heard that the priorities of the naval forces are primarily to protect ships carrying aid for the World Food Programme and secondly to protect vulnerable commercial traffic on this key international trade route. Through advanced surveillance and continuous patrols by ships and aircraft under the auspices of EU, NATO and co-operating nations, pirates from Somalia are often intercepted and disarmed at sea. However, the dangers and risks from piracy on yachts remain high. The pirates' range of operation extends well over 1,000 miles east and south from Somalia. There are currently 15 vessels in captivity including a yacht crew. The latest vessel taken was a bulk carrier on 10 October.
Official advice remains that yachts are strongly advised to avoid the area. Those that, having assessed the risks, nonetheless decide to make the passage may wish to register with the naval authorities in advance in order to receive up-to-date reports, and may wish to report regularly to the authorities during their passage.
A proposal was noted for yachts to be offered transit through the Gulf of Aden on board ships at commercial rates and details of this service, if confirmed, will be made available shortly by the specialist company concerned.
Guidelines first published in 2009 jointly by MSCHOA (Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa) and the International Sailing Federation will be revised following the meeting though the principles will remain the same.
The current guidelines can be found at:
ISAF Cruising microsite - www.sailing.org/cruising