US operatives die on ship made famous in film Captain Phillips

Two former Navy SEAL members who had been hired to protect the container ship that was attacked by Somali pirates in 2009 — an episode that became the basis of the Oscar-nominated film “Captain Phillips” — were found dead while the ship, the Maersk Alabama, was docked in the Seychelles, officials said Thursday. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/21/world/africa/dead-guards-on-freighter-are-identified-as-former-navy-seal-members.html?ref=world
The causes of death were still under investigation.
According to a portion of the police report shown to a reporter, the authorities found no injuries on either of the men. On a table near the bodies were “brown powder substances” that were “suspected to be drugs.” The two men were taken to Seychelles Hospital, where they were pronounced dead.
The Maersk Alabama was preparing to set sail from Port of Victoria in the Seychelles on Tuesday afternoon.
A colleague discovered the body of Mark Daniel Kennedy, 43, along with that of Jeffrey Keith Reynolds, 44, like Mr. Kennedy a former SEAL member who was also working security aboard the ship.
Autopsy results were still pending.
Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Reynolds worked for the Trident Group, a maritime security company in Virginia Beach in the US.
Tom Rothrauff, the company president and also a former SEAL member, said that an autopsy would be performed on Friday in the Seychelles.
Mr. Rothrauff said that contractors working for Trident were required to submit to extensive drug screening every two years, and that both men had passed these tests within the past 18 months.
Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Reynolds had come aboard the Maersk Alabama on Jan. 29. The ship’s previous stop was in Salalah, Oman, and it arrived on Monday on the island of Mahé, the largest in the Seychelles.
According to service records released by the Navy on Thursday, Mr. Kennedy enlisted in late 1995 and went almost immediately into the grueling two-year training program to become a SEALs member. His combat tours in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq earned him multiple service medals. He left the service in 2010.
Mr. Reynolds spent 10 years in the Navy, rising to the rank of boatswain’s mate third class before leaving the service in 2000.
The 508-foot Maersk Alabama, which was built in Taiwan in 1998 to carry more than 1,000 20-foot containers, has its home port in Norfolk.
In April 2009, the vessel was the scene of one of the most notorious pirate hijackings in modern times. Four Somali pirates seized the Maersk Alabama and its crew. The crew fought back and the pirates left the ship, but took the captain, Richard Phillips, hostage at gunpoint. He was held in a lifeboat until Navy SEAL snipers shot and killed three pirates. A fourth was taken into custody and later pleaded guilty to hijacking, receiving a sentence of more than 30 years in prison. Mr. Phillips is played by Tom Hanks in the film.
Pirate attacks off the Somali coast have fallen off dramatically in recent years, since armed guards were added.

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