Jeffrey Reynolds and Mark Kennedy, two former Navy SEALs, working as security contractors, were found dead aboard the Maersk Alabama on Tuesday. The ship was moored in the Seychelles region of the Indian Ocean. Both men were 44.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Maersk Alabama Was Featured in Best Picture Nominee ‘Captain Phillips’
The Maersk Alabama was seized by four Somali pirates on April 8, 2009, the first successful seizure of a ship registered under the American flag since the early 19th century. It was the sixth in a string of hijackings, that had previously brought the pirates millions in extorted ransoms.
The pirates ended up taking the ship’s leader, the now famous Captain Phillips, hostage in one of the container vessel’s lifeboats. On April 12, the US Navy successfully rescued Phillips, killing three of the pirates in the process.
2. The Boat Had Been Scheduled To Sail Out Tuesday
Police in the Seychelles told CNN that the two dead contractors were part of a 24 member security crew that had been docked since Sunday, and had been planning to ship out on the day the two men were found dead.
3. The Cause of Death Remains Unknown
Police told CNN: “A postmortem will be carried out this week in order to establish the cause of their sudden deaths while the police investigates the possible circumstances which led to these incidents.”
The U.S. Coast Guard has been notified of the two deaths. Coast Guard Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel Tremper said:
“We are monitoring the report involving the two citizens and we offer our condolences to the two families. An investigator from Coast Guard Activities Europe is engaged in a Coast Guard investigation but due to the nature of the investigation that will be about all that we can provide right now.”
4. Piracy Has Been a Problem In the Seychelles Area
A May 2013 article from CNN, details new security measures taken by the Seychelles government, to try to combat the growing economic threat of piracy.
The Seychelles is a nation consisting of a series of small islands scattered across the Indian Ocean. They are an international supplier of canned tuna, known in the area as “blue gold.” Fishing and tourism are the primary drivers of economic growth throughout the islands.
The presence of pirates roaming the waters around the Horn of Africa then, poses a significant threat to Seychelles interests. However, despite ramped up security, the government struggles to deal with the logistical difficulties of securing islands spread out across an area of ocean twice the size of France. Deputy Operations officer of the Seychelles coast guard Jean Attala told CNN the four vessels that comprise the nation’s naval fleet simply aren’t enough, saying:
“This is not adequate to cover such a large area. We need more assets and build up more our capacity to deal with this issue.”
5. The Maersk Has Been Attacked By Pirates Four Times
According to Wikipedia, the Maersk Alabama travels a route that takes it from Mombasa, Kenya, to Salalah, Oman, and finally to Djibouti, before returning again to Mombassa.
After the April 2009 attack immortalized in Captain Phillips, the ship was attacked again just six months later. Pirates attempted to hijack the vessel in March 2011, and then again in May of that year.