Pirates in captivity, US Navy insists there was no friendly fire
Sketchy details are emerging of the events that led to the deaths of four American sailors on board the yacht Quest in the Indian Ocean. Scott and Jean Adam, owners of the yacht, and crew Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle died during negotiations between the pirates and US forces.
US Navy officials insist there was no question of the four
hostages being hit in an exchange of fire.
A Danish warship spotted Quest on Friday, off an
island close to Oman. President Obama authorised the use of force and the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, the USS
Leyte Gulf, a guided missile cruiser, and the USS Sterett and USS
Bulkeley, both guided-missile destroyers, were called in to prevent the yacht from reaching the Somali coast.
According to the US Navy the yachtsmen were killed while negotiations were
being held with two of the pirates on board one of the US warships. During
the talks a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at one of the warships, after
which a burst of gunfire was heard from within the cabin of the yacht. US
Navy Seals then boarded the yacht.
Vice-Admiral Mark Fox, commander of US Naval Forces Central
Command, said that no shots had been fired by the Navy Seals when they
boarded the boat. Close-combat fighting broke out later, during which one
pirate was shot dead and another was stabbed by one of the Seals.
He said that Navy Seals had responded to the grenade being fired by
speeding to the yacht and boarding her without a
shot being fired. By contrast, the pirates said in an interview with Reuters that shots were fired
from one of the warships, killing two of the pirates, which led to a
decision to shoot the hostages.
Quest and her crew had been taking part in the Blue Water Rally until they decided to sail this leg independently. In a statement, Blue Water Rallies said: ‘We are stunned and devastated by the news of the
loss of four friends who have had their innocent lives taken away from
them by the pirate menace which is plaguing the Indian Ocean. Our
hearts and prayers go out to the families of Jean, Scott, Phyllis and
Bob. We know that all their fellow participants are deeply affected by
this appalling tragedy.’