13 October 2008

Before 9-11

Ok, yesterday marks the eight year anniversary of the attack on the USS Cole. The Cole was Aden, Yemen for a routine fuel stop when a small boat approached the ship. This was supposedly not unusual and some reports say that sailors on the Cole and the smallcraft may have exchanged greetings. Then the small craft exploded, damaging the Cole's galley and engineering spaces. The crew fought flooding and other damage and had the ship under control by evening. An inspection by divers showed the keel was not damaged. In the end, seventeen sailors were killed and thirty-nine injured in the dealiest attack on a naval vessel since the Stark in 1987. The British vessel HMS Marlborough was the first to respond to the scene. Marines arrived to help and provide security, and within a few hours the USS Donald Cook and USS Hawes arrived to help. They were joined by several more ships in the following days. The Cole was taken onboard the semi-submersible salvage ship MV Blue Marlin from Norway and arrived in Pascagoula, Mississippi on December 24. In the aftermath of the attack, the Navy investigated and changed its rules of engagement after finding out that the sailors on the ship could not have fired at their attackers without permission from the Commanding Officer. Petty Officer Jennifer Kudrick said that if the sentries had fired on the suicide craft "we would have gotten in more trouble for shooting two foreigners than losing seventeen American sailors." The attack was renounced as an act of terrorism, though by US Law terrorism only occurs against civilian targets. It was, regardless, an attack by Al-Qaeda against the US,and no military response was made prior to 9-11. This post is dedicated to the sailors who lost their lives in this attack, and to those who risked everything to save their ship and their shipmates.

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