Bab el-Mandeb, the Gulf of Aden, Somalia and the Arabian Sea

Somali piracy has for years been a major maritime security issue threatening global trade and shipping. The occurrence of piracy off the coast of Somalia has however declined since its peak years in 2008 to 2012 and is now at its lowest level since 2007. ​There were no confirmed piracy attacks in 2020 or 2021, and no incidents to date in 2022. 

BMP measures and an ongoing international naval presence in Somali waters and adjacent waters have been effective in limiting the pirate's opportunities to operate in the area. Despite the low number of attacks, there is still potential for pirate operations in the Somali Basin and the Gulf of Aden.

Suspicious approaches in the Gulf of Aden suggest that pirate activity is ongoing and there have been reports of armed small craft that might have been pirates monitoring merchant vessels for vulnerabilities. Be aware that in most reported incidents such skiffs turn out to be fishermen carrying rifles for self-protection.

The Bab el-Mandeb area has also seen several small boats that have not been considered a direct threat, but which might indicate piracy or other illegal activities. The unstable situation in southern Yemen also affects the maritime security situation in the region, although the chances for merchant vessels to get caught up in this is not likely. 

Maritime Security Level:

The Norwegian Maritime Authority requires ships flying the Norwegian flag to implement MARSEC/ISPS level 2 within the area illustrated with coordinates in the map below.

Because of the suppressed piracy situation, the industry’s designation of the High-Risk Area (HRA) was revised on 1 September 2021. It should be noted that although the industry has reduced the size of this area, the Norwegian Maritimer Authority still requires ships to implement security level 2.

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Advice on mitigation measures:

  • Utilize BMP5 in preparations and operations. 
  • Conduct security assessments before entering, and impose an updated and adequate SSP.
  • Current transit advice is provided by UKMTO. Threat assessments for the region are also provided by EUNAVFOR and can be found on the MSCHOA website.
  • Prepare ship and crew, through planning and exercises. 
  • Report to UKMTO and MSCHOA in accordance with guidelines.

Stay vigilant and maintain a high degree of situational awareness, both underway and at ports.