Mariners seized by pirates from ship owned by Edison Chouest - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Mariners seized by pirates from ship owned by Edison Chouest

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CUT OFF, La. - Justin Kennedy works offshore and knows the appeal of traveling to foreign waters.

"That's the main reason why people go, because of the money," he says. "In some places it's tax-free, so whatever you make, that's what you get. But then again, you've got to realize you in they territory."

That territory can sometimes be dangerous.

According to a U.S. official, pirates off the coast of Nigeria seized the captain and chief engineer aboard the C-Retriever Wednesday morning. The attack happened in the Gulf of Guinea off the Nigerian coast.

Eleven crew members and the vessel were released, but officials believe the two hostages are being held for ransom somewhere on the mainland.

"Obviously our concern at this point is for the safe return of the two U.S. citizens," says Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson for the State Department. "Chief of mission security at our mission in Nigeria is investigating the kidnapping report. We do believe this was an act of piracy."

Edison Chouest Offshore owns the C-Retriever, a 222-foot vessel that delivers supplies to oil platforms off the West African coast.

Calls to the company's headquarters in Cut Off were not returned.

Edison Chouest Offshore operates a fleet of more than 200 vessels around the world, in areas rich with oil but also places where piracy is a concern.

Three Edison Chouest workers were kidnapped in the same area in 2011 and released two weeks later.

The White House says it's working on a plan to make the waters off Nigeria safer.

"We are concerned by the disturbing increase in the incidents of maritime crime, including incidents of piracy off the coast of West Africa, specifically in the Gulf of Guinea," says White House spokesman Jay Carney. "We have and will continue to work with West African governments to build the capacity and political will needed to address piracy."

The FBI is investigating the latest kidnapping, and Nigeria says it ordered its naval forces to mount a rescue operation.

Back in Lafourche Parish, people are watching and worrying.

"I think the government should do something about it to try to get them back," says Joycelyn Callais, whose son works offshore. "Whether it's to pay a ransom or it's to work out some kind of agreement to try to get them back - not just leave them there."

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