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US warship, choppers tracking hijacked yacht

February 21, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
At least one U.S. warship and some helicopters are tracking a hijacked yacht with four Americans on board.

The yacht was attacked by Somali pirates on Friday morning off the coast of Oman. The vessel is now reportedly somewhere near Yemen and Somalia.

"They think they are Americans, they must be rich and able to pay whatever ransom is demanded. However, I think these pirates have made a grave mistake," said former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Steve Ganyard.

The main goal is to get the passengers off the yacht alive before they make landfall at Somalia. ABC News is reporting that the Navy has made radio contact with the Somali pirates. However, the U.S Embassy won't comment on its tactics, only saying its assessing possible responses.

Scott and Jean Adam, a couple from Southern California, have been sailing around the world since 2004 distributing bibles.

On this journey, a Washington couple named Phyllis Mackay and Bob Riggle joined them aboard their yacht.

The four were part of an international yacht race called Blue Water Rally, but for some reason left the course somewhere between India and Oman.

The Adams are part of the Del Rey Yacht Club in Marina del Rey, and the club's members are anxious to see a happy ending to this story.

"When I heard it on Friday, I was afraid that it was them because I had heard they were delivering bibles," said club member Rikki Barker, who knows the Adams.

"They're very, very nice. They will travel the world, they will give seminars and show us what's going on at the club," Barker added.

Some at their yacht club, though, question why the pair ventured anywhere near Somali pirates.

"I would have taken my odds somewhere else. It's known for issues, again, those odds are just crazy," said another club member Brian Spevack.

"For something that started with so much good to turn into so bad so fast, I can't imagine what they're going through," said Jason O'Dell, another club member.

The Adams are also parishioners at the St. Monica Catholic Church in Santa Monica. At mass on Sunday, a candle was lit for the couple and prayers were said.

Friends said the Adams were living out their lifelong dream of passing out bibles.

"Our prayers are with them. We hope for the best, looking for a miracle, I guess, hoping to hear some good news. We're all on pins and needles," said Ed Archer, the couple's friend.

Last week, a Somali pirate was sentenced to 33 years in prison by a New York court for his role in the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama. There, the ship's captain was freed when navy sharpshooters killed two pirates.

There are currently 660 sailors being held captive in Somalia, but none of them are American.

The captivity process in Somalia is usually not a quick one. Last November, a British sailing couple was released after 388 days.