Everyone solemnly remembers the events of September 11th, 2001 that saw the collapse of both towers of the World Trade Center, a section of the Pentagon reduced to rubble and left another hijacked aircraft burning after crashing into a field in Pennsylvania. For many, it was the type of terrorist attack that made US citizens feel vulnerable for the first time in their lives to what sick minded terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda were capable of. But, for those in the US Navy that were on board the USS Cole on the morning of October 12th 2000, that was when the real war on terror linked to Al-Qaeda started.
As was customary for many ships like the USS Cole based in the Persian Gulf, the Port of Aden in Yemen was a major stopping point for refueling and resupply. Apparently, representatives of what was thought to be the terrorist group Al-Qaeda noticed this too. The morning of October 12th, 2000 saw the Cole enter into the Port of Aden and dock about 9:30 am. By 10:30 of that morning, refueling operations were fully underway. At approximately 11:18 am, an explosive laden small boat approached alongside the Cole and soon afterward detonated the explosives it had onboard. It left a huge 40 x 60 foot hole in the side of the guided missile destroyer that would render the ship unusable and kill many of the US Navy personnel that were stationed onboard at the time.
Apparently, many of the crew were just assembling for chow in a galley area very close to where the explosion took place. The blast tragically resulted in the death of 17 fine young Navy Sailors and it also injured 39 others. The most severely wounded sailors were quickly flown to a French Military medical facility in Djibouti and eventually taken to Germany for further treatment.
Members of the Cole and other support ships fought for three days to bring the fires and flooding on the ship under control to keep it from sinking. For much of that three day period, it was questionable whether the badly damaged ship could be saved. Thanks to the valiant efforts of the crew and those others who assisted, the situation onboard was finally stabilized.
Divers determined that the keel of the ship was not damaged, so it could be salvaged. It was eventually loaded aboard the Norwegian salvage ship the MV Blue Marlin and eventually brought back to Pascagoula, Mississippi. The ship underwent extensive repairs and upgrades and was proudly put back into service in November of 2003. After again being upgraded in 2009, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer became part of the vitally important Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System.
There is a USS Cole memorial now at the Norfolk Naval Station that overlooks the bay where many Naval ships pass each day. It was designed with the help of the actual crew members that lived through that dreadful day and is a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives on that tragic October morning. Even more importantly, the USS Cole itself serves as living memorial to those who died and looks to do so well into the future as a still-important part of today’s Navy.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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