For the first time in centuries, pirates have spilled American blood
. Four Americans, each of them over the age of fifty, were murdered by pirates off of the coast of Somalia today. Jean (age 66) and Scott (age 70) Adam of Marina del Rey, California, had been sailing from port to port for several years aboard their yacht, stopping to pass out bibles and evangelize wherever the seas took them. They were joined on this particular trip by friends from Seattle, Phyllis Macay (59) and Robert Riggle (67). Several days ago, their yacht was captured by Somalian pirates-- the first American ship to be successfully captured since the Maersk Alabama was taken in 2009. In the previous incident, Navy SEALs rescued the hostages in a dramatic episode that left a few pirates dead and one in custody-- and all hostages safe. The pirate in custody, the first to be captured by American forces since the Barbary Wars, was sentenced recently to 33 years in prison.
In today's tragic unfolding, a U.S. naval destroyer was shadowing the captured yacht, negotiating for the release of the hostages. President Obama had authorized them to use lethal force if they deemed it necessary. This morning, the pirates launched a rocket-propelled grenade at the US ship (which missed). It is currently unclear what happened next exactly, but it involved Navy SEALs boarding the yacht amid gunfire. The four Americans and four pirates were killed, and an additional fifteen pirates have been captured. Some pirates, who have been marauding the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia for most of the past decade, have indicated that their new willingness to kill their hostages is in response to the reaction of nations to their piracy-- chiefly, our trying of pirates in court and Russia's dumping captured pirates
deep in the ocean with just a raft.
The United States Navy has joined an international flotilla of warships in patrolling the area off of the coast of Somalia, but the US and NATO have resisted Russian suggestions to invade Somalia
to deal with the piracy problem, which is costing the world millions of dollars in international trade a year. Their new brazenness and the ruthless murder of four Americans may end up being their undoing, though, as they may now learn the hard way why "To the Shores of Tripoli"
exists within the hymn of our Marines. It is worth noting that the ship involved in this latest incident is the USS Sterett
, named after Commandant Andrew Sterett-- commander of the USS Enterprise during
the First Barbary War.