The crew of a Royal Navy vessel was forced to watch a British couple being kidnapped by pirates, Sky News reported.
Military officials insisted the crew members could not have acted without endangering the lives of Paul Chandler, 59, and his wife, Rachel, 55.
The 75 merchant seamen and 25 Royal Navy sailors were aboard the Royal Fleet Auxiliary replenishment tanker Wave Knight.
The Chandlers were seized in the early hours of Oct. 23 when armed Somali pirates boarded their yacht, the Lynn Rival.
The yacht was heading from the Seychelles towards Tanzania.
The couple was forced to sail towards Somalia before being moved onto a container ship, the Kota Wajar, which was previously taken by the pirates.
It has now emerged that the Wave Knight, which was also carrying a helicopter, was within range as the events unfolded.
A Ministry of Defense spokesman said: "Every effort was made by the Royal Navy and the international maritime fleet to locate the Lynn Rival. We did everything we could possibly do without further endangering the lives of Paul and Rachel Chandler."