Pirates hijack 4 Americans: US mulls responses

The US said it is assessing possible options to rescue the hijacked.

Updated: Feb 20, 2011, 14:30 PM IST

Mogadishu: An American couple that has
sailed the world with a yacht full of Bibles was hijacked by
Somali pirates, and the US said it is assessing possible

Pirates say the yacht will make landfall in Somalia
today, which would reduce the chances of a fast rescue
dramatically. A British sailing couple hijacked by pirates was
held hostage in a stiflingly hot Somali region for more than a

Pirates hijacked the yacht Quest on Friday, 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 in a spectacular rescue when Navy
sharpshooters killed two pirates holding the ship`s captain,
Richard Phillips.
The Quest is the home of Jean and Scott Adam, a couple
from California who has been sailing around the world since
December 2004, according to a website the Adams keep. Two
other Americans were also believed to be on board.

The pirates are unlikely to hurt the four Americans
because they won`t win any ransom money if they do, said
Graeme Gibbon-Brooks, the head of Dryad Maritime Intelligence.

He argued that the pirates would be wise to abandon the yacht
because the hijacking threatens their business model, which
relies on ransoms from large shipping and insurance companies.

"They risk the collapse of their business model if
they change their status quo and the American government deems
that they pose an immediate threat to the safety of American
citizens," he said. "They`ve made a mistake and it`s in the
Somalis` business interest to get off the yacht as soon as
The US military was monitoring the situation. Matt
Goshko, a spokesman at the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, which
oversees Somalia, said reports indicate there are four US
citizens aboard the Quest.

"All relevant US agencies are monitoring the
situation, working to develop further information, assess
options and possible responses," Goshko said.

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 Adams website chronicles the couple`s travels over
the last seven years, from El Salvador and Panama in 2005 to
Fiji in 2007 and Singapore and Cambodia last year. They most
recently sailed from Thailand to Sri Lanka and India and were
on their way to Oman when captured. Djibouti the tiny East
African country north of Somalia had been next on their list.

A satellite tracking system the couple uses showed them docked
in Mumbai, India on Feb. 1.

"Djibouti is a big refueling stop. I have NO idea what
will happen in these ports, but perhaps we`ll do some local
touring," the couple`s website says.

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 Adams carry both Catholic and Protestant versions
of the Bible, and at several different reading levels. The
couple stamps the bibles with "A GIFT from your friends in the
United States. Quest Bible Ministry. NOT FOR SALE," after
discovering a teacher who they gave Bibles, sold them.

Bureau Report