Ship Masters Planning

 Ship Master’s Planning - Prior to entering the High Risk Area

7.1 Brief crew and conduct drill
Prior to entry into the High Risk Area it is recommended that the crew should be fully briefed on the preparations and a drill conducted. The plan should be reviewed and all personnel briefed on their duties, including familiarity with the alarm signifying a piracy attack, an all clear and the appropriate response to each. The drill should also consider the following:

  • Testing the vessel’s Ship Protection Measures, including testing of the security of all access points.
  • The Ship Security Plan should be thoroughly reviewed (see section 6.4).

7.2 Prepare an Emergency Communication Plan
Masters are advised to prepare an Emergency Communication Plan, to include all essential emergency contact numbers and prepared messages, which should be ready at hand or permanently displayed near all external communications stations (eg telephone numbers of the UKMTO, MSCHOA, Company Security Officer etc – see list of Contacts).

7.3 Define the ship’s AIS policy
Although the Master has the discretion to switch off the AIS if he believes that its use increases the ship’s vulnerability, in order to provide Naval/ Military forces with tracking information it is recommended that AIS is left on throughout the High Risk Area, but that it is restricted to ship’s identity, position, course, speed, navigational status and safety-related information. The recommendation to keep the AIS on will be the subject of ongoing review - any updates will be notified on the MSCHOA and NATO Shipping Centre websites. 

7.4 If Company has not submitted ‘Vessel Movement Registration Form’ to MSCHOA
Ensure MSCHOA ‘Vessel Movement Registration Form’ has been completed and submitted by the Company. If the Form has not been submitted by the Company the Master should submit it by email / fax.

Masters’ Planning - Upon entering the High Risk Area

7.5 Upon entering submit ‘Vessel Position Reporting Form’-Initial Report to UKMTO
On entering the UKMTO Voluntary Reporting Area - an area bounded by Suez to the North, 10°S and 78°E - ensure that a UKMTO ‘Vessel Position Reporting Form’ - Initial Report is sent.

The Master should ensure that BMP measures are in place prior to entry into the High Risk Area

Transiting through the High Risk Area

7.6 Reduce maintenance and engineering work to minimum
Maintenance and engineering work in the High Risk Area – The following is recommended:

  • Any work outside of the accommodation is strictly controlled and similarly access points limited and controlled.
  • All Engine Room essential equipment is immediately available – no maintenance on essential equipment.

7.7 Daily submit ‘Vessel Position Reporting Form - Daily Position Report’ to UKMTO
Vessels are strongly encouraged to report daily to the UKMTO by email at 08:00 hours GMT whilst operating within the High Risk Area. The UKMTO ‘Vessel Position Reporting Form - Daily Position Report’ should be used. 

7.8 Carefully review all warnings and information
The Master (and Company) should appreciate that the voyage routeing may need to be reviewed in light of updated information received. This information and warnings may be provided by a number of different means including NAV WARNINGS – Sat C (and NAVTEXT in limited areas). It is important that all warnings and information are carefully reviewed.

Prior to entering the International Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC)

7.9 Use IRTC ‘Group Transit Scheme’ while transiting through Gulf of Aden
It is strongly recommended that ships navigate within the IRTC, where Naval/Military forces are concentrated. Naval/Military forces operate the ‘Group Transit Scheme’ within the IRTC which is coordinated by MSCHOA. This scheme groups vessels together by speed for maximum protection for their transit through the IRTC. Further guidance on the ‘Group Transit Scheme’, including the departure timings for the different groups, is included on the MSCHOA website or can be obtained by fax from MSCHOA (see contact details). Use of the ‘Group Transit Scheme’ is recommended. Masters should note that warships might not be within visual range of the ships in the ‘Group Transit Scheme’, but this does not lessen the protection afforded by the scheme.

7.10 Make adjustments to passage plans to conform to MSCHOA advice.
Ships may be asked to make adjustments to passage plans to conform to MSCHOA advice. Ships joining a Group Transit should:

  • Carefully time their arrival to avoid a slow speed approach to the forming up point (Point A or B).
  • Avoid waiting at the forming up point (Point A or B).
  • Note that ships are particularly vulnerable to a pirate attack if they slowly approach or wait at the forming up points (Points A and B).

7.11 National Convoys
Some countries offer independent convoy escorts through the IRTC where merchant vessels are escorted by a warship. Details of the convoy schedules and how to apply to be included are detailed on the MSCHOA website ( It should be noted that most national convoys require prior registration to enable vessels to join the convoy. Ships joining national convoys should note the issues in the bullet points 7.10 as they are also highly relevant to vessels timing their arrival at a national convoy forming up point.

Ships should avoid entering Yemeni territorial waters (12 miles) while on transit as it is very difficult for international Naval/Military forces (non-Yemeni) to protect ships that are attacked inside Yemeni territorial waters.