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Respiratory Failure Caused Two Deaths on Captain Phillips' Ship

<p>Jeffrey Reynolds and Mark Kennedy died of respiratory failure.</p>
Image: Maersk Alabama
The American flag flies from the aft deck of the of 17,000-ton, Danish-owned Maersk Alabama, in Mombasa, Kenya in April 2009. SARAH ELLIOTT / EPA file

The two former U.S. Navy SEALs found dead aboard the Maersk Alabama — the ship involved in the pirate attack later dramatized in the movie "Captain Phillips" — died of respiratory failure and were suspected to have suffered heart attacks, possibly from drug use, police said.

A statement on the website for the police department of Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, said that a syringe and traces of heroin were found in their cabin. Authorities said samples are being sent to Mauritius for analysis to determine if the men had consumed "a substance" that could have killed them.

Police officials identified the men as Jeffrey Reynolds and Mark Kennedy — both 44-year-old employees for the Virginia-based maritime security firm The Trident Group.

The men were on a 24-member crew that arrived in Port Victoria on Feb. 16 for a two-day stay. The bodies were discovered in Kennedy's cabin by a colleague who went to check on him, according to police.

The Maersk Alabama was hijacked in 2009 by Somali pirates. Navy SEALS staged a dramatic rescue — a high seas drama depicted in "Captain Phillips," starring Tom Hanks in the title role.

— Daniel Arkin