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Hijacking survivor speaks at merchant marine memorial

MANATEE — After weeks of whirlwind media coverage of Ken Quinn’s experiences aboard a ship hijacked by Somali pirates, the Lakewood Ranch resident was recognized today by his own on National Maritime Day.

At a wreath laying ceremony at Port Manatee this morning, merchant marines, U.S. Coast Guard officials and Port Manatee workers alike honored Quinn for his sacrifice on the Maersk Alabama, as well as all merchant marines killed in the line of duty.

“We have to earn what the merchant marines have given over the years,” said Coast Guard Capt. Timothy Case.

Quinn, who was second mate on the Maersk Alabama, addressed the crowd, talking of his ordeal during the April 8 hijacking.

“I am just honored to be here,” said Quinn. “In that situation, we were all just focused on looking out for each other. It was the brotherhood of the sea.”

Quinn then joined Case in walking a memorial wreath to a canal at the port and dropping it in the water in honor of merchant marines killed in the line of duty.

The ceremony was held by the Port Manatee Propeller Club, and the group’s chairman, Steve Tyndal, presented Quinn with a lifetime membership to the club.

“Welcome to the Propeller Club, and we hope you will come see us whenever you are in port,” Tyndal told Quinn.

Before the ceremony, Quinn said he is hoping to get back on a ship in the coming weeks and head back to sea. He said life has slowly been getting back to normal since the hijacking and it is time to go back out.

“I want to get on a ship soon. What happened doesn’t have me scared. Some of the guys have told me they are having trouble sleeping, but I haven’t had any problems,” Quinn said.