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Somali Pirates Convicted in Quest Case

The murder of four cruisers off Oman in 2011 aboard the sailing yacht Quest substantially raised the stakes for sailors wanting to access the Mediterranean. Previously, the modus operandi of pirates operating in that area was to hold sailors hostage for ransom, but spare their lives. In the aftermath of the Quest incident, very few cruisers have dared to transit the Gulf of Aden en route to the Red Sea and the Med.

Previous to the attack, Quest’s owners, Scott and Jean Adam, were greatly enjoying their retirement cruise.

© 2013 Adam family archives

According to international news sources, three Somalis involved in the attack were convicted early last week of piracy, kidnapping and murder — 26 counts in all — and could face the death penalty when the sentencing phases are completed later this month. 

Aboard the Marina del Rey-based, 58-ft Quest on the night of the boarding were owners Scott and Jean Adam, and their friends from Seattle, Phyllis Macay and Robert Riggle. The pirates’ stated intention was to sail the sloop to Somalia, but that plan was foiled when the U.S. Navy’s USS Sterett intercepted them. After four days of attempts to negotiate, Navy SEALs raided the boat, killing two Somalis and capturing 13 others. The four Americans had already been shot. 

Although few if any cruising boats are attempting to cross the Gulf of Aden these days, the International Maritime Bureau recently reported an 80% drop in piracy in 2012 within the Gulf of Aden region. The organization says there is now more piracy taking place off the west coast of Africa than the east.

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