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U.S. considers military action after pirate seajacking

by Nancy Knudsen on 20 Feb 2011
Phyllis Mackay from yacht Gaia - kidnapped .. .
As the seajacked yacht Quest with four Americans on board is forced to sail for the Somali coastline, forecast to arrive around next Sunday, U.S. military officials said they are considering a response, and are 'prepared to intervene'.

The yacht belongs to Jean and Scott Adam, from Orange County in California, who were on a worldwide voyage, and had already been using their yacht Quest as their home for seven years. The Blue Water Rally, which Quest had been part of until Mumbai, has identified the two other crew sailing with them as Seattle couple Phyllis Mackay and Bob Riggle, who it is believed previously sailed on a yacht called Gaia.


The seajacking of the yacht and kidnapping of the four cruising sailors was first reported by the piracy-watch and environmental group http://australia.to/2010/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=69&Itemid=272!Ecoterra, who have since criticised world main-stream media for publishing that proselytizing material could have been carried on the yacht, as this news might endanger further the lives of the Americans.

French Commandos have previously rescued the crews of two French vessels seajacked by military intervention. In the second of these, the rescue of the yacht Tanit in April 2009, the skipper Florent Lemacon was killed by friendly fire, while his widow Chloe and small son Colin were rescued.

No military attempts to rescue yacht crews by this method have been made since. Later in 2009 British cruising sailors Rachel and Paul Chandler were captured and held in captivity for over a year

before a ransom was paid and they were released. The British Navy watched the seajacking, but held fire for fear of hitting the Chandlers.

Andrew Mwangura, officer of the East Africa Seaman's Assistance program and frequent negotiator with pirates, has stated that the yacht is now headed for the Somali coastline.

Rear Adm. Charles Gaouette, deputy commander of the U.S. Navy's fifth Fleet, told CNN on Saturday that the U.S. is prepared to intervene to rescue the couple if they are indeed aboard the boat.

'They were part of a sailing group that set sail from the southern tip of India into the western Indian Ocean,' he told the network. However, this has been denied to Sail-World Cruising by the organisers of the group, the Blue Water Rally, who said that they had decided to leave the rally in Mumbai on 15th February and make their own way to Salalah in Oman.

Omar Jamal, U.S. first secretary at the Somali mission, confirmed Friday that pirates in the Indian Ocean had taken four U.S. citizens captive when they hijacked the S/V Quest.

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