Somali Pirates Holding American Yachters

by Libby Zay 
Posted Feb 19th 2011 10:00 AMUpdated Feb 19th 2011 10:55 AM

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Somali pirates have hijacked a yacht carrying four Americans that was sailing in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Somalia, U.S. military officials said Saturday.

The government did not release the identities of the Americans, but a piracy watchdog group called Ecoterra International says the yacht is the S/V Quest, owned by Jean and Scott Adam.

According to the S/V Quest website, the couple has been on a worldwide mission trip since 2002.

Rear Adm. Charles Gaouette, deputy commander of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain, tells CNN the U.S. Military is prepared to intervene if necessary.

"They were part of a sailing group that set sail from the southern tip of India into the western Indian Ocean," says Gaouette, adding the situation is being monitored with U.S. Central Command.

Another U.S. official who preferred to remain anonymous says the pirates are believed to be on board the yacht with the Americans, and the next step is to determine if the military could keep the yacht from reaching shore by either blocking or harassing it.

The fear of pirates has caused some cruise ships to divert from the region over recent years. Somalia pirates made headlines around the world in April 2009, when the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama was seized, leading to a standoff in the Indian Ocean.

Last month, Somalia pirates stalked a 348-passenger cruise ship in the Indian Ocean for about an hour, but the pirates never attacked and were probably scouting the ship.

Discovery News discloses there were 430 reported Somali pirate attacks in 2009, many of which are on oil tankers and container ships. Last year's numbers have not yet been released.

Filed Under: News

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