Stanek’s partner for the operation, a younger man named Michael Perich, had recently graduated from the Merchant Marine Academy. A football player at the academy, Perich was now at the beginning of his career in paramilitary operations and had just recently been trained as a scuba diver. Two other men were aboard their 40-foot vessel, Jamie McCormick and Daniel Meeks, both in supporting roles. Stanek, a retired Navy ordnance disposal diver, was highly experienced but had only recently attained his license to be a ship captain, according to those who knew him.
The crew had spent the last several days sailing up the coast of the Philippines after departing Malaysia in what was to be the maiden voyage of their ship, which was secretly owned by the CIA’s Maritime Branch.