In first overseas effort since 2000 blastUSS Cole on water . . . again [Archives:2003/692/Front Page]
By International news service
NORFOLK, Va. ) The USS Cole and its crew of 340 pulled out of port this week for the destroyer's first overseas deployment since bombed by terrorists in Aden in 2000.
A crowd of about 100 family members watched as the ship left the Naval Station Norfolk at 12:55 p.m.
“The families are sad to see their sailors leave, but they know they have a job,” said Lieutenant Junior Grade Kelley Anderson, a Navy spokeswoman.
The guided-missile destroyer was brought back to the United States and underwent $250 million in repairs at Northrop Grumman's Ingalls shipyard in Mississippi following the Oct. 12, 2000, attack. Two suicide bombers had driven an explosive-packed boat into the side of the Cole, tearing a large hole in it.
The explosion killed 17 crew members, wounded 39, and nearly sank the destroyer.
Earlier this week, Yemeni security forces captured the suspected mastermind of the attack, Mohammed Hamdi al-Ahdal. A US counterterrorism official in Washington who confirmed the Tuesday capture said Ahdal had been among the top 20 Al Qaeda figures at large.
The Cole and two other destroyers in the Norfolk-based Surface Strike Group, the USS Thorn and USS Gonzalez, are now scheduled to head to the Mediterranean Sea for about six months, Anderson said. Officially, they are part of the Enterprise carrier strike group, which left in October.