Three days after a yacht of four Americans was hijacked by Somali pirates, U.S. officials said they're still considering how to respond.
"All relevant U.S. agencies are monitoring the situation, working to develop further information, assess options, and possible responses," Matt Goshko, a spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, which oversees Somalia, said. The ambush at sea took place Feb. 18, in dangerous waters nearly 300 miles off the Somali coast.
Among those captured were the boat's owners Jean and Scott Adam. The Southern California couple had been sailing around the globe distributing Bibles from their yacht, Quest, since December 2004.
Bill Savage, Jean Adam's ex-husband, said the couple thought they had taken "appropriate precautions."
"Overall, they were fulfilling a dream," Savage said. "And when I asked if there's anything that anybody could do, should something happen, her response was, 'Just pray for us. We are fulfilling our dream.'"
Two other Americans, Washington residents Phyllis Mackay and Bob Riggle, were also on board.
"They think they are Americans... (that) they must be rich and able to pay whatever ransom is demanded," former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Steve Ganyard said. "However, I think these pirates have made a grave mistake."
A U.S. Navy ship and helicopters are now actively tracking the hijacked yacht as it nears Somalia. Their goal is to keep the pirates from making it to the Somali shore where they and their hostages can easily disappear.
Somalia is a lawless nation known for spawning pirates and radical Islamists. The radical Muslim group al-Shabab, which rules much of the country, is known for targeting Christians in the region. Some African missionaries who have been caught working in the area have paid with their lives.
"There is no government. There is no security," CBN News International Correspondent George Thomas said of the region.
Friday's hijacking comes after another Somali pirate was sentenced by a New York court to 33 years in prison for his role in the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama.
The 2009 incident was the last time pirates targeted an American vessel. That takeover ended with all but one of the pirates being killed by a U.S. Navy sharp-shooter.
Merchant Marine Capt. Richard Phillips was held hostage in the ship's lifeboat for four days. He told CBN News how he endured the experience.
"When I talked to God and prayed, I did not pray for an escape," he said. "I prayed for strength and patience. I prayed that God would let me have the strength to continue and to know when to escape and the patience to wait for that time."
Meanwhile, the couple's fellow church members from St. Monica's Catholic Church in California have been praying for the hostages' release.
"That's our hope today, that these great people who are taking this Holy Word and giving it to so many people across this world, that they will somehow return and find safety and come back home," their pastor, Lloyd Torgerson said.