American Hostage Situation Off Oman Ends Tragically

Liana Teixeira

Any hope for the safe return of four American hostages has been tragically lost. The Americans, whose yacht was hijacked in the Arabian Sea Friday night, were held captive by Somali pirates in the midst of their around-the-word sailing trip.

Three days later, U.S. military personnel boarded the ship in an attempt to rescue the passengers, but unfortunately found that all four hostages had been shot and killed. Despite attempts to revive the victims, their wounds proved fatal. The two couples aboard the yacht were Seattle residents Phyllis Macay, 59, and Robert Riggle, 67, and the yacht’s owners, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, California.

At the time of the passengers’ deaths, the yacht, named Quest, was sailing just off the coast of Somalia, located on the Horn of Africa. Pirate gangs are not uncommon in this area, and they usually target large merchant ships and oil tankers for profit, reports A second money-maker to pirates involves the capturing of foreigners to use as ransom, a method that brings in tens of millions of dollars. The Quest was sailing through the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, a main shipping route and a gold mine for pirates.

The U.S. embassy reported on Saturday that they believed the Quest had been hijacked 240 miles off the coast of Oman. Andrew Mwangura, an East African maritime expert, concluded that the yacht was then sailing towards Somalia, an area with its share of violence.

This flourish in Indian Ocean piracy has become more frequent since the overthrow of the Somali dictator in 1991, says With such a large area to cover, controlling the spread of piracy proves to be extremely difficult.

The inability to contain such a costly problem has resulted in various hostage situations, one of which ended with the release of British couple Paul and Rachel Chandler in November after being held captive by pirates for 14 months. Unfortunately, the same mercy was not given to the Americans aboard the Quest.

While boarding the Quest on Tuesday, the U.S. military captured 13 pirates and killed two others. Two other pirates were also found dead upon arrival; however, officials have not released any information on their cause of death.

On Tuesday night, the remains of both couples were sent on their journey home on the USS Enterprise. “We express our deepest condolences for the innocent lives callously lost aboard the Quest,” said Gen. James N. Mattis, U.S. Central Command commander.