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Quinn family homecoming today at SRQ

LAKEWOOD RANCH — The unflappable Ken Quinn, who survived an encounter with pirates in the lawless seas off Somalia and sailed through a round of TV network interviews in New York, returns home with his family to Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport today.

A welcome down Lakewood Ranch Main Street at 5:30 p.m. awaits Ken and Zoya Quinn, and their boys, Jason, 3, and Justin, two months.

“Bring your signs and welcome messages,” said Leah Blair of Lakewood Ranch.

Quinn was second mate aboard the cargo ship Maersk Alabama, headed to Mombassa, Kenya, with an emergency shipment of food, when it was boarded by pirates on April 8.

Capt. Richard Phillips ordered his crew to barricade themselves in one of the Maersk Alabama’s secure rooms. The crew eventually over-powered some of the pirates, before Phillips offered himself as a hostage.

A tense standoff followed with Phillips and several pirates in a lifeboat shadowed by U.S. Navy ships standing nearby. The standoff ended when members of the elite Navy SEAL team, fearing Phillips was in immediate danger of being shot by the pirates, shot and killed three pirates.

Quinn and the other crew members, with the exception of Phillips, returned to U.S. soil last Thursday. Phillips returned a day later.

The experience was an ordeal for family members of the Maersk Alabama. Zoya Quinn was exhausted by the experience. In an interview with the Herald right after learning her husband and other members of the crew were safe from the pirates, she noted that Ken had administered first aid to an injured pirate.

“He was calm,” Zoya said. “He sounded happy the pirates were at least off the ship.”

Quinn and his family will end their journey home at MacAllister’s restaurant in Lakewood Ranch for a welcome party.

Monday night, in a phone interview with the Bradenton Herald, Quinn said he and his family were enjoying their last night in New York, but were looking forward to getting back home to Manatee County.

Despite the episode off Somalia, Quinn said he has no plans to retire or change jobs.

“It’s my career, I have to finish up,” Quinn said.

He was also curious about the party planned for him by the community and said he was looking forward to that.

When all the notoriety dies down, the first item on his to-do list is to “fire up my chopper (motorcycle) and go for a ride,” he said.