Four American hostages grabbed by Somali pirates aboard their yacht on Friday were believed to be headed for the coastal town of Garacad, shadowed by an international navy warship
The 58-foot S/V Quest was hijacked on Friday afternoon more than 750 miles from Somalia in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Oman as it sailed from Mumbai, India, with four people on board.
The hostages are believed to be owners Scott and Jean Adam, and two others. The Adams, a retired couple from California, have sailed the world since 2004 distributing Bibles to remote communities.
A NATO source told GlobalPost that a warship had successfully intercepted the pirate mothership soon after the hijacking but a rescue was not attempted because the pirates had already seized control of the Quest and were piloting it towards Somalia with the skiff used in the attack lashed to the stern.
Military officials at the United States Central Command, based in Florida, said they were monitoring the situation but would not comment on whether a rescue attempt might be launched.
After the US-flagged Maersk Alabama was hijacked in April 2009 Navy SEAL snipers shot and killed three pirates releasing Captain Richard Philips. Two days before the Quest was hijacked Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse, the only surviving member of the pirate gang that attacked the Alabama, was sentenced to 33-years in jail by a New York court.
Although it is far more common for shipowners to pay multi-million dollar ransoms for the release of vessels and their crews Friday’s hijacking is more similar to that of Paul and Rachel Chandler, a British couple pirated in October 2009. They were held for more than a year, while family-members struggled to raise the money for a ransom.
Somali pirates are currently thought to be holding more than 30 vessels and over 700 crew hostage.