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SY Quest incident

SY Quest incident
Part of Piracy in Somalia, Operation Ocean Shield, Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa
Date 4–22 February 2011
Location off Oman, Indian Ocean
Result American victory;
  • Yacht recaptured
  • Capture and arrest of pirates
 United States Somali pirates
Commanders and leaders
Dee Mewbourne Mohamud Salad Ali[1]
1 aircraft carrier
1 cruiser
2 destroyers
1 yacht
Casualties and losses
None 4 killed
15 captured
1 yacht captured
Civilian casualties: 4 killed

The SY Quest incident[2] occurred in February 2011 when Somali pirates seized the American yacht SY Quest (s/v Quest) and four United States citizens. In response the United States Navy, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, dispatched the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise and three other ships with orders to free the hostages. Though American forces were capable of neutralizing the threat, all of the hostages were killed. The SY Quest was the first American vessel to be captured by Somali pirates since the Maersk Alabama hijacking in 2009.[3]


  • Incident 1
  • See also 2
  • External Sites 3
  • References 4


According to American reports, the SY Quest was captured on 18 February 2011 at 13.23 UTC by nineteen pirates in a mothership, 190 to 240 miles off the coast of Oman at approximately in the Indian Ocean.[3][4] Pirates then tried sailing the SY Quest towards Puntland. Sometime thereafter the Enterprise, the guided missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf and the guided missile destroyers USS Sterett and USS Bulkeley were sent to the area and arrived several days later on or about 21 February. Captain Dee Mewbourne, of the Enterprise, then proceeded with opening negotiations with the pirates, at which time two Somalis went aboard the Sterett. On the following morning, 22 February, while negotiations were still taking place, a pirate aboard the SY Quest fired a rocket propelled grenade at the Sterett from 600 yards away but it missed. Almost immediately afterward gunfire was heard aboard the yacht so a boarding party was sent in on a raft and they boarded the SY Quest. A brief skirmish occurred resulting in the deaths of two pirates, one by rifle fire and the other by a combat knife. Thirteen pirates surrendered in the process and were taken into custody. After boarding, the American navy personnel discovered Phyllis Macay and Robert Riggle, of Seattle, Washington and the SY Quest '​s owners, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, California.[3][5]

All four of the captives had been wounded by gunfire so navy $110,000 on food, weapons and salaries for the highjacking. Thirteen of the pirates were found to be Somalis and the other a Yemeni; they were sent to Norfolk, Virginia to face charges of piracy and kidnapping.[3][6]

USS Leyte Gulf alongside USS Enterprise while conducting flight operations in the Red Sea on 3 March 2011.

The three captured Somalis, Mohamud Salad Ali, Mohamud Hirs Issa Ali and Ali Abdi Mohamed, pleaded guilty in a US court.[7]

On 8 July 2013 Ahmed Muse Salad, a/k/a “Afmagalo,” 27, Abukar Osman Beyle, 33, and Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar, 31; those who actually killed the 4 hostages; were found guilty of piracy, murder within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, violence against maritime navigation, conspiracy to commit violence against maritime navigation resulting in death, kidnapping resulting in death, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, hostage taking resulting in death, conspiracy to commit hostage taking resulting in death and multiple firearms offenses.[8] All three were sentenced in November 2013 and all received 21 life sentences, 19 consecutive life sentences and 2 concurrent life sentences, and 30 years consecutive.[8]

See also

External Sites

Welcome to s/v Quest Adventure Log


  1. ^ "Somali Pirate Leader Gets Life in Prison for Yacht Hijacking". Fox News. 4 October 2011. 
  2. ^ "Quest incident – the final moments". 28 February 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d "4 American hostages killed by Somali pirates". World news-Africa-Somalia. MSNBC. 22 February 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  4. ^ "Blue Water Rally Yacht and four crew seajacked in the Indian Ocean". 18 February 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2011. 
  5. ^ "Americans slain by captors on hijacked yacht; pirates killed, arrested". CNN. 22 February 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  6. ^ "14 pirates indicted in Virginia for deadly attack on Americans". 10 March 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  7. ^ "Somali pirates plead guilty in US to Quest hijacking". BBC News. 20 May 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2011. 
  8. ^ a b "Somali Pirates Sentenced To Multiple Life Sentences In Murder Of Four Americans Aboard SV QUEST" (Press release). 14 November 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
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