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American Yacht Quest Attacked and Crew Murdered by Somalie Pirates

 From Sydney Morning Herald and The New York Times original report here

LOS ANGELES: Jean and Scott Adam shared a dream through 15 years of marriage: to retire, build a boat and sail the world. And that is what they did, heading out in 2004 from California on a custom-built 18-metre yacht for a permanent vacation that brought them to exotic islands and remote coastlines: Fiji, Micronesia, China, Phuket.
''And now: Angkor Wat! And Burma!'' Jean Adam wrote just before Christmas on her blog.
The dream came to a brutal end on Tuesday when the Adams couple and their crew, Phyllis Macay and Robert Riggle of Seattle, were killed by pirates off Somalia in one of the most violent episodes since the modern-day piracy epidemic began several years ago, US officials said.
It is not clear why the pirates killed their hostages, either accidentally during a firefight or possibly out of revenge for the Somali pirates killed by US forces in an attempted hostage taking in 2009. US naval forces had been shadowing the hijacked yacht, Quest, and as soon as they saw a burst of gunfire on board, special operations troops rushed to the yacht in an assault craft, shot one of the pirates and knifed another. But all four hostages were already dead or fatally wounded.
Few people who travel the high seas today are unaware of the dangers from pirates, although it seemed a risk the couple were willing to take in the spirit of adventure and excitement.
''She said to us, 'If anything happens to us on these travels, just know that we died living our dream,''' said Richard Savage, Jean Adam's brother-in-law from her first marriage.

Left: Crew members Phyllis Macay and Bob Rigglethe and right, the yacht's owners Scott and Jean Adam.
Still, in a decision that troubled friends and family members, the Quest left a convoy of yachts that was assembled to ward off attacks by pirates in those waters - such convoys are known as rallies - to go off on their own in some of the most dangerous waters in the world.
Before their retirement, Jean Adam was a dentist. Scott Adam attended divinity school. This was as much a voyage of faith as it was one of adventure. The pair took piles of Bibles and distributed them as they travelled the world. Friends said the pair were not on a proselytisation mission.
Ms Macay and Mr Riggle signed on as crew late last year, providing assistance and companionship on these voyages, which are often rigorous and lonely.
On Friday, the Quest sent out an SOS, 443 kilometres from the coast of Oman, in the open seas between Mumbai and Djibouti. A mother ship had been observed near the yacht when it was hijacked by pirates in a smaller craft, maritime officials said, but it disappeared once warships drew close, or was captured.
Either way, the pirates were blocked from escaping and that may be one reason why tensions rose on board, said Andrew Mwangura, the maritime editor of Somalia Report, a website that monitors piracy attacks.
Vice-Admiral Mark Fox, the commander of US Naval Forces Central Command, said shortly after the Quest was hijacked, the navy began talking to the pirates' financier as well as elders from the pirates' village. Many pirate crews are paid by wealthy Somali businessmen who later get a cut of the ransom.
On Monday, two of the pirates boarded a navy destroyer that had moved within 550 metres of the Quest to negotiate further.
But the talks unravelled on Tuesday morning, when a pirate on the Quest fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the destroyer. Almost immediately gunfire erupted from inside the yacht's cabin, Admiral Fox said, and several pirates then stepped up to the bow with their hands up.
Fifteen special ops troops in two high-speed assault craft rushed in. When they boarded the Quest, they shot and killed one pirate and stabbed another.
Once aboard, the soldiers found two pirates already dead, apparently killed by their comrades. The pirates were in disarray, the US military said, and a fight had broken out among them.



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