MOGADISHU, Somalia – A warship is shadowing a yacht with four Americans on board that was hijacked by Somali pirates, a pirate said Sunday, as the vessel was reported to be moving closer to the Somali coast.
The yacht Quest was hijacked Friday off the coast of Oman, but is now in the waters between Yemen and northern Somalia, two pirates and a Somali government official told the Associated Press.
One pirate who gave his name only as Hassan said a warship with a helicopter on its deck is near the Quest.
The pirate’s claim could not be independently verified, and U.S. officials on Sunday did not release any information about the yacht. A U.S. Embassy spokesman on Saturday said officials were assessing options and “possible responses.”
In New York, the first secretary of Somalia’s U.N. Mission, Omar Jamal, said he had received reports from Somalia that the boat was expected to make landfall late Sunday.
If the Quest reaches Somalia’s shores the four American hostages would likely be taken inland, where a fast resolution is much less likely. A British couple who were released in November spent 388 days in pirate captivity.
The Quest is owned by Scott and Jean Adam, a couple from California. The Blue Water organizers identified the other two Americans onboard as Phyllis Mackay and Bob Riggle. The NBC TV station in Seattle spelled the name as Phyllis Macay and said she and Riggle are from Seattle.
Pirates currently hold 30 ships and more than 660 hostages, not counting the attack against the Quest.