Posted by: wrmcnutt | February 22, 2011

Murder on the High Seas


Victim's Yacht

UPDATE: I have opened a resource collection with material about the Quest murders here.

UPDATE:  According to Adm. Mark Fox, commander of the forces in the region, it was during negotiations with the pirates that the shots were heard.  Immediately upon hearing the gunfire, naval forces engaged.  Within ten minutes of the initial shots fired, American forces secured the yacht and attempted life-saving medical interventions but ultimately, all the hostages died from their wounds.  Fifteen pirates were captured, and four were killed. Fox went on to tell reporters at the Pentagon that the incident was “the deadliest one he could recall involving U.S. citizens held by pirates.” Fox also said there were signs that the pirates came from a “mother ship,” a larger vessel that operates out to sea, away Somalia and can launch small boats to steal ships at multiple locations simultaneously, making it harder to guard them.

For those of you unaware, last Friday, February 19, a team of pirates seized the yacht belonging to American missionaries of the coast of the dysfunctional nation of Somalia.  Their yacht, the Quest, was boarded three days ago, and as of two hours ago, remained at sea.  The US Navy was aware of the situation and was shadowing the stolen yacht and the two pirate skiffs that were accompanying her.  The initial goal of the authorities was to prevent the pirates from getting ashore on the Somali coast, where they could disappear into the lawless environment.

A flotilla of U.S. naval vessels had been shadowing the yacht, known as the Quest, for three days and conducted negotiations over the weekend in an effort to free the two couples as the yacht made its way south toward Somalia , said Lt. Commander Mike Lawhorn, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean.

Unit cohesion seemed to be breaking down among the 19 pirates during the standoff, U.S. officials said. On Monday, two of them the USS Sterret, for face-to-face negotiations and did not return to the yacht.

This morning, the Navy contacted the pirates, and during negotiations, shots rang out and a rocket-propelled grenade was launched toward the Sterret.  The rocket missed and the special operations team boarded the Quest. The SO team did not have to fight thier way aboard.  Once there, they discovered two pirates already dead.  In securing the vessel, the SO team killed a third pirate with gunfire and a fourth in hand-to-hand combat.

In addition to the Sterret, a destroyer, the U.S. Navy battle group included the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf, her sister ship the USS Bulkeley, and the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. The Quest crew had apparently been unable to get out a distress call before being boarded, but a Danish helicopter had seen the Quest off the coast of Oman under escort by the pirate skiffs, and subsequently reported the hijacking to U.S. Navy.

Victims of Piracy

The Victims Faces Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle

Jean and Scott Adam Marina del Rey and Phyllis McKay and Bob Wriggle of Seattle Washington were on a mission to distribute Bibles around the globe.  The pirates most likely presumed that, because they are Americans and are on a yacht, they must be

rich and can produce massive ransoms.  This is actually not true of most cruisers.  Contrary to popular assumption, most of the cruising world is actually made up of middle-class retirees who have poured their life savings into their boat and voyage.

The Victim's Faces: Jean and Scott Adam

The victims were chronicling their voyage here

Why Cruisers and Merchants Go Anywhere Near Somalia

UPDATE: Some of you may wonder why cruisers and merchant men go anywhere near Somalia.  After all, we know there are pirates there. Why not just stay away from the pirates?  Well – the answer lies in geography.  The Horn of Somalia controls the entrance to Gulf of Aden, through which you must pass to reach the Red Sea, and Suez Canal.  This is the path to the Mediterranean.  If you don’t follow this route, you have to go all the way around the continent of Africa.  For a merchantman, this causes an unacceptable delay, and uses up a monstrous amount of fuel.  For a cruiser, it adds a year to the voyage, and all the costs that go with it.

Thomas Jefferson knew how to deal with pirates:  when you can find them,  you hang them after a drum-head trial on deck.  Then you go ashore and burn their nests to the ground. Finally, where necessary, you depose the governments they pay to give them shelter. I hope they hang these sons of bitches . . .

“We seek fertile ground for the Word and homes for our Bibles. Often, the ultimate homes are best found by people who are already living locally and seeking and cultivating that fertile ground. AND even more extraordinary are the times when people have been praying for Bibles for their group or their schools and when we arrive we are often greeted by the attitude of, ‘We were expecting you.’ (that is, they were looking for their prayers to be answered. And…) ‘What took you so long?'” — Jean and Scott Adam

The FBI has opened an investigation into the murders.

To give you some idea of our current policy, check out this video.  The leader of the pirate gang that hijacked the Maersk Alabama just now got sentanced to 33 years in prison, and I want you to look the smug bastard as he grins as he’s led off to jail.

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  1. Ain’t no yardarm high enough.

  2. Amen to that!

  3. This would be why Jason avoids any and all glorification of pirates. They still exist and there is nothing romantic about murder rape and theft

  4. Thank you so very much for posting this story. I had long wondered what kind of idiots could be sailing a yacht in the waters around Somalia. Now I know they were “fools for Christ”. I now view them as heroes, who gave their lives in the cause of bringing light to a darkened world.

  5. I’d be willing to pull the lever on that group.

  6. […] This page is a collection of resources in reference to the capture and subsequent murder of the crew and passengers of the sailing vessel Quest in February of 2011.  My summation of the initial story can be found on my blog post here. […]

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