Two American security officers, reported to be former Navy SEALs, were found dead on board Maersk Alabama, the cargo ship made famous in the Somali pirate hijacking film, “Captain Phillips,” Seychelles Island police reportedly said Wednesday.
According to police reports, Jeffrey Reynolds and Mark Kennedy, both 44, were discovered dead by a colleague late Tuesday afternoon, while the ship was moored at Port Victoria in Seychelles, which is located in the Indian Ocean, nearly 850 miles off the Somali port city of Mogadishu.
"A postmortem will be carried out this week in order to establish the cause of their sudden deaths," police told CNN, while A.P. Moller-Maersk reportedly said in a statement: "The cause of the death for both men is part of the ongoing investigation, but it was not related to vessel operations or their duties as security personnel."
Reynolds and Kennedy worked for U.S.-based Trident Security Firm, and were identified by the company's president, Tom Rothrauff, as former Navy SEALs.
"It's bizarre. Of course, it's a shock. They're all great guys," Rothrauff reportedly said. "I'm absolutely clueless as to what happened."
The two men were confirmed as U.S. citizens by State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf. Local police reportedly said that the ship arrived in Seychelles on Sunday with a 24-man crew and had been expected to leave Tuesday.
According to the company's website, Maersk Alabama is part of a U.S.-flagged fleet controlled by Maersk Line Limited, a unit in A.P. Moller-Maersk, which performs military, government and humanitarian missions by transporting cargo.
Kevin Speers, a senior director for Maersk Line Limited, said in a statement to CNN: “Contracted security is part of anti-piracy protection plans to safeguard crews and vessels.”
“In Maersk Alabama's case, she is persistently in high-risk areas since she provides feeder service to the east coast of Africa. The vessel was cleared to complete cargo operations, and she is now at anchor awaiting further instructions,” Speers added.
The Maersk Alabama was targeted by Somali pirates in an attempted hijacking off the east coast of Africa in 2009. The ship’s captain, Richard Phillips, was taken hostage on a lifeboat and was rescued three days later after Navy sharpshooters killed the three pirates holding Phillips.
The 2013 film "Captain Phillips," starring Tom Hanks as the captain, is based on the incident.