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Woman with Triangle connection held by pirates

Posted February 20, 2011
Updated February 22, 2011

— A warship is shadowing a yacht with four Americans on board that was hijacked by Somali pirates, a pirate said Sunday, as the vessel was reported to be moving closer to the Somali coast.

The yacht Quest was hijacked on Friday off the coast of Oman, but is now in the waters between Yemen and northern Somalia, two pirates and a Somali government official told The Associated Press.

One pirate who gave his name only as Hassan said a warship with a helicopter on its deck is near the Quest.

The Quest is owned by Scott and Jean Adam, a couple from California. The Blue Water organizers also identified the other two Americans onboard as Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle, of Seattle. Macay is an employee of Hillsborough-based Profitability Consulting and is traveling the world on sabbatical, Chief Executive John Egger told WRAL News.

pirates somali Hillsborough man worries for employee on yacht

Macay and Riggle know what they are doing on the water, Egger said.

On the website chronicling their journey, they acknowledged the threat of pirates and their plan to stay safe. "We should not take this threat lightly and have decided to maintain some sort of grouping to show the pirates that we mean to be safe," they wrote in 2009.

The pirates' claim could not be independently verified, and U.S. officials on Sunday did not release any information about the yacht. A U.S. Embassy spokesman on Saturday said officials were assessing options and "possible responses."

Hassan told the AP he is speaking directly with the pirates aboard the hijacked yacht. A second pirate who gave his name as Bile Hussein and a Somali official in Puntland who asked not to be named both said the Quest is in between Yemen and Somalia and heading closer to Puntland, a haven for pirates on Somalia's northern tip.

In New York, the first secretary of Somalia's U.N. Mission, Omar Jamal, said he had received reports from Somalia that the boat was expected to make landfall late Sunday.

Pirates have increased attacks on ships off the coast of East Africa, but Americans have rarely been targeted. The last attack against a U.S. crew, in 2009, ended with Navy sharpshooters killing two pirates and rescuing the ship's captain.

If the Quest reaches Somalia's shores the four American hostages would likely be taken inland, where a fast resolution is much less likely. A British sailing couple who were released in November spent 388 days in pirate captivity.

The organizers of an international yacht race called the Blue Water Rally said the Quest had been taking part in the race but left it Feb. 15 to chart an independent course from India to Oman.

"We feel desperately sorry for our four friends onboard and our thoughts are with them and their friends and family. All the yachts still on the rally are fine and well," the Blue Water website said.

The Adams have been sailing the world with a yacht full of Bibles since 2004. The hijacking of their yacht came two days after a Somali pirate was sentenced to 33 years in prison by a New York court for the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama. That case ended when Navy sharpshooters killed two pirates holding the ship's captain.

Pirates have increased attacks off the coast of East Africa in recent years despite an international flotilla of warships dedicated to protecting vessels and stopping the pirate assaults. Multimillion dollar ransoms are fueling the trade, and the prices for releasing a ship and hostages have risen sharply.

Pirates currently hold 30 ships and more than 660 hostages, not counting the attack against the Quest.

The best-known case of Westerners being held hostage in Somalia was that of Paul and Rachel Chandler, a British couple held for 388 days. The two, who were captured while sailing in their private yacht, were released in November.

The Adams, who are members of the Marina del Rey Yacht Club in Marina del Rey, California, run a Bible ministry, according to their website, and have been distributing Bibles to schools and churches in remote villages in areas including the Fiji Islands, Alaska, New Zealand, Central America and French Polynesia.

The pirates from Puntland in northern Somalia are not hardline Islamists and the fact the Adams carry Bibles is not likely to be a problem. Pirates in Puntland are known to spend their ransom spoils on alcohol, drugs and prostitutes.

___

Straziuso reported from Nairobi, Kenya.

79 Comments

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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Feb 22, 2011

    RM24, nice dodge of the question. You are the one who brought up vacation days & once you saw that Bush took THREE TIMES AS MANY vacation days as Obama (first year alone!)...you now longer want to discuss the issue.

    Well...I can't blame you for the dodge. :-) And, at least now you know the truth and can expect to be held to it if you try to bring it up again.

  • deton8tor Feb 22, 2011

    Well, the Navy is going to be there anyway to protect American shipping. These waters are part of very important shipping routes. These are American citizens and unless they were committing a crime they should be protected. I doubt theres a sailor or marine involved in this action who's not chomping at the bit to go pirate hunting. If they aren't then maybe they should not be in the service in the first place.

  • teklc Feb 22, 2011

    I can't beleive Pirates still exist. Too bad they don't look like Johnny Depp. I would go to see for that.
    Seriously, something internationally needs to be done against Pirates. is there a ruling entity for international waters ?

  • geosol Feb 21, 2011

    Maybe we should try an old time Navy trick - send in some decoy vessels that are really warships in disguise. After the pirates try to take over a couple of those, they'll get the message pretty quickly.

  • WRALSUCKS Feb 21, 2011

    The UN needs to put a bounty on pirates.

  • TiminNCisBack Feb 21, 2011

    Obviously these were some people who support reform for gun ownership and simple love for people. FAIL!

  • Arapaloosa Feb 21, 2011

    "The US is not that great, hardly even good. Comes in 24 for education, 17th for quality of life." -mrcrosbys

    Wow! You should run for president!

  • snidelyputz Feb 21, 2011

    In World war two the Germans had armed merchant raiders. Maybe this could be a solution.

  • RM24 Feb 21, 2011

    And btw hereandnow99 if you are wondering Obama is our current president. The article is talking about kidnappers currently. It would sound pretty stupid for me to talk about what the previous Presidents are going to do with a situation that is currently going on, would it not? I am sorry you are upset that Obama is not the answer everyone was praying for. Unless your on Unemployment that is.... Sorry.

  • not pc Feb 21, 2011

    mrcrosbys if you think the us is so bad why don't you go some where else?ooo no you want the freedom but still want to talk junk about the us, back it or leave it.

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