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Lakewood Ranch man among crew of ship hit by pirates

LAKEWOOD RANCH - A Manatee County man is among the crew of a U.S.-flagged cargo ship hijacked off the Horn of Africa by Somali pirates.

Ken Quinn is the second mate aboard the Maersk Alabama. The 54-year-old told CNN in a live interview Wednesday that the crew had held him as a hostage for 12 hours before returning him.

Quinn lives in Lakewood Ranch with his wife, Zoya, 30, and their two sons, 3-year-old Jason and 2-month-old Justin.

In a brief interview this morning at the couple's Lakewood Ranch house, the Ukrainian-born Zoya Quinn said she received a call from her husband Wednesday afternoon. Ken Quinn said that he was free from the Pirates and unharmed.

Zoya Quinn said she has been frustrated and concerned by the act of piracy. She seemed exhausted by the ordeal, and taking care of her two young sons.

The family has lived in Lakewood Ranch about four years and previously lived in Ellenton, Zoya Quinn said.

Ken Quinn was about a month into a four-month stint of sea duty, but told his wife he's ready to come home if his company will allow it.

The Maersk Alabama was carrying food intended for African destinations, Zoya Quinn said.

The Lakeland Ledger reported William Quinn, father of Ken Quinn and his wife Marilyn, waited patiently at their winter home in Lakeland for news of their son. They relied on their daughter-in-law Zoya for updates.

The hijacking was sixth by Somali pirates in a week, according to the Associated Press.

William Quinn of Lakeland said his son was set on becoming a Merchant Mariner right out of high school.

The military has called in FBI hostage negotiators to help end the standoff.

The pirates are holding the captain in a drifting lifeboat, with a U.S. warship watching nearby.

FBI spokesman Richard Kolko says FBI hostage negotiators are "fully engaged" in the standoff.

The pirates took Capt. Richard Phillips as a hostage after an attack on a U.S. cargo ship. The American crew retook the ship and the pirates fled into the lifeboat. Hostage negotiators and military officials are working to free Phillips.

Quinn was worried to learn that he would be traveling in waters off Africa instead of on safer routes around Asia or the Middle East, his wife said Thursday.

"He knew he was going into all the pirates," his wife said. "He was worried but he told me not to worry because those pirates never got an American ship."

It's the first such attack on American sailors in about 200 years. Kevin Speers, a spokesman for the ship company Maersk, said the pirates have made no demands yet to the company.

Quinn, who has been updating his wife with intermittent e-mails and phone calls throughout the ordeal, told his wife the crew communicated with the pirates by hand signals until they left with Capt. Richard Phillips.

Phillips has a radio with him, Zoya Quinn said. "He talks with the crew all the time."

Quinn and the crew held one of the pirates hostage for about 12 hours before releasing him in the hopes of winning Phillips' freedom. Quinn told his wife he covered the pirate's cuts with bandages "because he was bleeding all over the ship," she said; it was unclear how the pirate was injured.

Quinn met his wife in Ukraine. The couple have been married seven years and have lived most of that time in Florida.

Zoya Quinn said her husband had received yearly small-arms training and lately had been working on ships going to Singapore, Japan and Kuwait.

"The only thing they were afraid of was terrorists. They always had guns and there never were attacks," she said. "This time he told me they weren't allowed to bring any guns on the ship. He was frustrated."

He flew to a seaport in the Middle East about a month ago to meet up with the Maersk Alabama - just a month after their younger son, Justin, was born. The couple also have a 3-year-old son, Jason.

He only found out the ship had an African route the day before he left, Zoya Quinn said. He had rushed to accept the four-month job because he hadn't been working since September.

"When he accepted he didn't know where the ship was going," she said. "He was hoping it was going to Dubai or the Arab Emirates because it's a safer route, he said."

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

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