Pirates grab four American sailors off Oman

MOGADISHU Sat Feb 19, 2011 5:23am EST

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MOGADISHU (Reuters) - A yacht with four Americans on board is believed to have been hijacked in the Arabian Sea, the U.S. embassy in Nairobi said on Saturday.

Pirate gangs plaguing the shipping lanes through the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean typically target large merchant ships, with oil tankers the prize catch, but the snatching of foreigners can also yield high ransoms.

"Preliminary reports indicate that a U.S.-flagged vessel tentatively named as the Quest has been hijacked in the Arabian Sea. There were four U.S. citizens on board," an embassy spokesman said.

All relevant U.S. government agencies were monitoring the situation, he added.

Earlier, a regional maritime expert said the 58-foot S/V Quest had been hijacked 240 miles off Oman on Friday afternoon as it sailed from India to Salalah in Oman.

Ecoterra, an advocacy group monitoring piracy in the Indian Ocean, said the 58-foot yacht was owned by Jean and Scott Adam. It was not immediately clear if the couple were on the yacht at the time of the attack.

The couple began a round-the-world trip in 2004, according to their website.

East Africa maritime expert Andrew Mwangura said the ship was now heading toward Somalia, on the Horn of Africa.

Somalia has been mired in violence and awash with weapons since the overthrow of a dictator in 1991, and the lack of effective government has allowed piracy to flourish.

Pirate gangs in the Indian Ocean are making tens of millions of dollars in ransoms, and international navies have struggled to contain the problem owing to the vast distances involved.

Pirates in southern Somalia are still holding two South Africans seized from their yacht late last year. In November, another gang released the British couple Paul and Rachel Chandler after holding them captive for more than 14 months.

One French hostage was killed and four were freed in April 2009 when French forces attacked a yacht that had been seized by Somali pirates.

(Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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Comments (4)
TheHof wrote:
Whoever wrote this headline should be fired. It gives the impression that the four captured are part of the U.S. Navy, which, it is clear from the story, they are not. If this is Reuters’ way of drawing readers to stories, it stinks.,

Feb 19, 2011 5:53am EST  --  Report as abuse
breezinthru wrote:
This whole piracy thing puzzles me.

I really have no sympathy for people who are rich enough to afford a yacht and rich enough to circumnavigate the world on it and stupid enough to take their pleasure trip through an area rife with pirates.

It’s not just jealousy over their wealth. I feel the same way about the three young American hikers who ventured on a walkabout in the vicinity of Iran’s border.

However, it would seem a simple matter for the navy to get involved with ransom payments, either tracking the pirates by satellite or placing several miniature tracking devices in the money containers.

When the transaction is complete and the pirates are rejoicing in their booty, send in an aircraft and light them up.
And mother ships that send out watercraft to hijack oil tankers? Do the deal to get the hostage ship and crew back, then light them up after they return to the mother ship.

I think it would be great if two aircraft were sent out on that mission, one to do a fly-by just before the other locks and fires. The pirates shouldn’t have time to escape the ship, but they should have that poignant moment before they die.

Feb 19, 2011 5:58am EST  --  Report as abuse
mgj wrote:
Our western leaders are doing NOTHING about the pirate problem. We have naval vessels in the area at great expense, but they don’t do anything. The British recapture a ship with pirates and hostages, and they bring the pirates back to Somalia and release them! The western world has gone completely insane. Our leaders don’t even try to explain their behavior to their citizens. I don’t blame them; there is no explanation. My conclusion: our leaders do not represent us, and do not defend our interests.

Feb 19, 2011 10:50am EST  --  Report as abuse
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