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Sat Oct 12, 2019, 05:45 AM

19 Years Ago Today; USS Cole attacked by al Qaeda in Yemen - 17 dead

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Cole_bombing


The Military Sealift Command fleet ocean tug USNS Catawba towing USS Cole after the bombing.

The USS Cole bombing was an attack against USS Cole, a guided missile destroyer of the United States Navy, on 12 October 2000, while she was being refueled in Yemen's Aden harbor.

Seventeen U.S. Navy sailors were killed and 39 injured in the deadliest attack against a United States naval vessel since the USS Stark incident in 1987.

The organization al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack against the United States. A U.S. judge has held Sudan liable for the attack, while another has released over $13 million in Sudanese frozen assets to the relatives of those killed. The United States Navy has reconsidered their rules of engagement in response to this attack. Another judge released over 25 million in other Sudanese assets to compensate.

Attack


USS Cole after the attack

On the morning of Thursday, 12 October 2000, Cole, under the command of Commander Kirk Lippold, docked in Aden harbor for a routine fuel stop. Cole completed mooring at 9:30 and began refueling at 10:30. Around 11:18 local time (08:18 UTC), a small fiberglass boat carrying C4 explosives and two suicide bombers approached the port side of the destroyer and exploded,[3] creating a 40-by-60-foot (12 by 18 m) gash in the ship's port side, according to the memorial plate to those who lost their lives. Former CIA intelligence officer Robert Finke said the blast appeared to be caused by C4 explosives molded into a shaped charge against the hull of the boat. Around 400 to 700 pounds (180 to 320 kg) of explosive were used. Much of the blast entered a mechanical space below the ship's galley, violently pushing up the deck, thereby killing crew members who were lining up for lunch. The crew fought flooding in the engineering spaces and had the damage under control after three days. Divers inspected the hull and determined that the keel had not been damaged.

The sailors injured in the explosion were taken to the United States Army's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center near Ramstein, Germany, before being sent to the United States. The attack was the deadliest against a U.S. naval vessel since the Iraqi attack on USS Stark on 17 May 1987. The asymmetric warfare attack was organized and directed by the terrorist organization al-Qaeda. In June 2001, an al-Qaeda recruitment video featuring Osama bin Laden boasted about the attack and encouraged similar attacks.

Al-Qaeda had previously attempted a similar but less publicized attack on the U.S. Navy destroyer USS The Sullivans while in port at Aden on 3 January 2000, as a part of the 2000 millennium attack plots. The plan was to load a boat full of explosives and detonate them near The Sullivans. However, the boat was so overladen that it sank, forcing the attack to be abandoned.

Planning for the October attack was discussed at the Kuala Lumpur al-Qaeda Summit from January 5 to 8, shortly after the failed attempt. Along with other plotters, the summit was attended by future 11 September hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar, who then traveled to San Diego, California. On 10 June 2000, Mihdhar left San Diego to visit his wife in Yemen at a house also used as a communications hub for al-Qaeda. After the bombing, Yemeni Prime Minister Abdul Karim al-Iryani reported that Mihdhar had been one of the key planners of the attack and had been in the country at the time of the attacks. He later returned to the United States to participate in 9/11 hijack of American Airlines Flight 77, which flew into the Pentagon, killing 184 victims.

Rescue
The first naval ship on the scene to assist the stricken Cole was HMS Marlborough, a Type 23 frigate of the Royal Navy, under the command of Captain Anthony Rix. She was on passage to the UK after a six-month deployment in the Gulf. Marlborough had full medical and damage control teams on board, and when her offer of assistance was accepted she immediately diverted to Aden. Eleven of the most badly injured sailors were sent via MEDEVAC to a French military hospital in Djibouti and underwent surgery before being sent to Germany.


MV Blue Marlin carrying USS Cole

The first U.S. military support to arrive was a U.S. Air Force Security Forces Quick Reaction Force from the 363rd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, 363rd Air Expeditionary Wing, based in Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, transported by C-130 aircraft.[citation needed] They were followed by another small group of United States Marines from the Interim Marine Corps Security Force Company, Bahrain flown in by P-3 Orion aircraft. Both forces landed a few hours after the ship was struck and were reinforced by a U.S Marine platoon with the 1st Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Company (FAST), based out of Norfolk, Virginia. The Marines from 6th Platoon, 1st FAST arrived on the 13 October from Norfolk, Virginia. The FAST platoon and security forces airmen secured Cole and a nearby hotel that was housing the U.S. Ambassador to Yemen.

USS Donald Cook and USS Hawes made best speed to arrive in the vicinity of Aden that afternoon providing repair and logistical support. USNS Catawba, USS Camden, Anchorage, Duluth and Tarawa arrived in Aden some days later, providing watch relief crews, harbor security, damage control equipment, billeting, and food service for the crew of Cole. LCU 1666 provided daily runs from Tarawa with hot food and supplies, and ferried personnel to and from all other naval vessels supporting Cole. In the remaining days LCU 1632 and various personnel from LCU 1666 teamed up to patrol around Cole.

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