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Featured Industry News 22-3-2019

New Indian Ocean HRA Boundaries

As of 1 May 2019, the coordinates of the High Risk Area in the Indian Ocean will be changed.

The new boundaries for the Indian Ocean High Risk Area (HRA), amended by BIMCO, ICS, INTERTANKO, INTERCARGO and OCIMF, will be effective as of 1 May 2019. This new area encompasses:

In the Southern Red Sea: 15N (unchanged). In the Indian Ocean a line linking the territorial waters off the coast of east Africa at Latitude 05S - 050E, then to positions: 0N - 055E, 10N - 060E, 14N - 060E, then bearing 310 deg to the territorial waters off the Arabian Peninsula.


Stakeholders have emphasised that “a serious threat remains despite the reduction to the area’s geographic boundaries and that correct reporting, vigilance and adherence to the 5th edition of the best management practice (BMP5) remains crucial”. The decision to reduce the HRA was made considering recent shipping industry experience, pirate intent, capability and discussions with nations and military naval forces. The UKHO Maritime Security chart Q6099 will be updated in a Notice to Mariners. HRA stakeholders have advised that “pre-transit risk assessments should take into account the latest information from both the VRA and High Risk Area.” The UKMTO Voluntary Reporting Area (VRA) remains unchanged.


It is unclear whether the Lloyd's Market Association Joint War Committee (LMA JWC) will also revise their ‘Listed Area’ for the Indian Ocean, which still remains larger than the December 2015 HRA revision area currently in force until 1st May. The JWC Listed Area is distinct from the HRA and influences underwriters’ application of war risk added premium (WRAP).


The HRA’s legal status and raison d’etre has changed significantly over time. As per BMP5, the HRA is currently considered as “an industry defined area within the UKMTO VRA where it is considered that a higher risk of attack exists, and additional security requirements may be necessary”.


2015 amendments to the HRA were caveated with the following statement: military threat assessments “indicate that the risk from Somalia-based pirates operating at range cannot be completely discounted and an increased state of readiness and vigilance may therefore be required within the VRA”. The supporting guidance further clarified that “Individual ship voyage risk assessments remain the cornerstone of this guidance…The pre transit risk assessment should therefore consider both the situation in the VRA as well as the HRA, taking into account current advice from UKMTO, MSCHOA, Coastal States and relevant NAV warnings”. Essentially, the application of BMP was more clearly separated from the HRA’s boundaries and room was made for case-by-case assessment. It was an appeasement to ‘reduction in threat’ and state-led arguments, balanced against the need to not let the shipping industry drop its guard. Placation with a disclaimer. Arguably now a ‘higher’, rather than ‘high’ risk area.

The May 2019 reduction of the HRA will allow vessels to transit routes from the Persian Gulf/West India to Southern Africa without breaching the HRA’s boundaries. However, considering historic precedent and the potential for continued mothership usage, the shipping industry will have to conduct rigorous risk assessments that account for routing, speed, freeboard, BMP readiness, threat, weather and other variables, so that decisions on whether armed guards are required are made confidently.

Authored by Jake Longworth, BA, Msc (Senior Intelligence Analyst). To hear more about EOS Risk Group’s maritime intelligence services, voyage risk assessments, port security assessments, daily and weekly reporting services, please get in touch using the contact page.

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