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Police deny suggesting ex-SEALs died of drug overdose

Crew members work aboard the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama after the ship docked in the harbor of Mombasa, Kenya, Nov. 22, 2009.
AP Photo

NAIROBI, Kenya -- The police in the island nation of Seychelles Friday denied suggesting that two former U.S. Navy SEALs may have died from a drug overdose on a ship.

The two Americans - Jeffrey Reynolds and Mark Kennedy, both 44 - were found dead Tuesday in a cabin on the Maersk Alabama. Maersk Line said in a statement on Thursday that drugs were found in their room, citing a police report.

The ship was hijacked by pirates in 2009, an event dramatized in the movie "Captain Phillips" starring Tom Hanks.

A statement from the Seychelles police on Friday said that, despite the reports, the police "never released any reports suggesting" that the two Americans may have died from a drug overdose.

The police said autopsies being performed next week on the men were expected to establish the cause of the two deaths.

The U.S. Coast Guard is also investigating the deaths.

The two men worked for U.S.-based Trident Security, according to police. Former military personnel frequently provide security on board ships sailing through the waters off Somalia to provide security against pirate attacks.

Trident Security was founded by former U.S. Navy SEALs in 2000 and employs former special warfare operators to provide security.

The Maersk Line said the cause of death is under investigation but is "not related to vessel operations or their duties as security personnel."

The Maersk Alabama's home port is in Norfolk, Va., where its parent company Maersk Line, Ltd. is also headquartered. The Maersk Alabama transports food aid to East Africa in support of the U.S. government's "Food for Peace" program, according to the company. Crew members also help support the Bee Hive Children's Home in Mombasa, Kenya.

Several crew members who were aboard the ship when it was hijacked in 2009 are currently suing Maersk Line Ltd. and Mobile, Ala.-based Waterman Steamship Corp. over the attack. The hijacking captured world headlines in 2009 and again when the movie, "Captain Phillips" was released recently. The five-day hijacking standoff ended when Navy SEALs aboard the USS Bainbridge shot and killed three of the pirates who were holding Capt. Richard Phillips in a lifeboat.

Nine crew members in the lawsuit filed in Alabama in 2012 say they suffered physical and emotional injuries after Somali pirates boarded. Some crew members were held at gunpoint with Phillips, and others hid in an engine room.