Four American Yachters Killed by Somali Pirates

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In a tragic turn of events, four American yachters who were taken hostage by Somali pirates last week in the Arabian sea were killed on the cusp of a rescue attempt by U.S. special forces.

The 58-ft S/V Quest was captured off the coast of Oman on February 18, with yacht owners Jean and Scott Adam (pictured) of Marina del Ray, California, and their friends Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle from Seattle aboard.

The Adams were experienced sailors and had been participating in the Blue Water Rally, which began in Phuket, Thailand. The Quest had broken off from the main group on the 15th, intending to chart their own course from Mumbai, India to Salalah, Oman.

CNN has reported that Scott Adam was aware and concerned about pirate activity in the Arabian Sea, but was determined to make the trip on his own – instead of shipping the Quest, something yacht owners in the area sometimes do as a security precaution.

The U.S. Navy had been following the hijacked yacht with an FBI negotiating team on board. When shots were fired aboard the Quest, a Navy special ops team boarded the vessel and discovered the travelers had been murdered.

At least 12 pirates were on board the Quest. Some were killed and others were captured and arrested, although specific numbers are not known at this time.

Jean and Scott Adam had chronicled their travels and love of sailing on their website, the Quest Adventure Log. While their last entry was written in December, the site reveals a seasoned duo of sailors who loved to travel the world by boat. The couple had visited Costa Rica, Fiji, China, the Galapagos Islands and elsewhere on what was intended to be a decade-long journey.

"The Quest started an 'around-the-world' trip in mid December of 2004 after sailing her to the States from New Zealand in 2002. This is planned to be an eight or ten year voyage," the Adams commented on their site.

The tragic incident calls into focus again the threat of pirates for vacationers in the waters around eastern Africa, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian sea. Just last month, cruise ship passengers aboard the Spirit of Adventure were terrified when a speedboat carrying pirates was discovered stalking their vessel.

Officials from the Blue Water Rally had expressed distress, hope and prayers for the Quest and its crew before the sad news of their deaths arrived this morning.

"Let us hope the media attention finally leads to some realistic action to overcome this plague of pirates on the high seas," rally officials posted on their site.

Pirates have been a reality for ocean-bound travelers around the world for centuries, and continue to cost the world $15 billion in annual losses each year.

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