On this day October 12, 2000

Two suicide bombers attacked the destroyer USS Cole while it was at anchor in Aden, Yemen, killing 17 of its crew members and injuring 39 others.

USS Cole  damage

USS Cole damage

On 12 October 2000, USS Cole, under the command of Commander Kirk Lippold, set in to Aden harbor for a routine fuel stop. Cole completed mooring at 09:30.

Refueling started at 10:30. Around 11:18 local time (08:18 UTC), a small craft approached the port side of the destroyer, and an explosion occurred, putting a 40-by-60-foot gash in the ship’s port side according to the memorial plate to those who lost their lives.

According to former CIA intelligence officer Robert Finke, the blast appeared to be caused by explosives molded into a shaped charge against the hull of the boat.

It was speculated at the time that over 1,000 pounds of explosive were used. The blast hit the ship’s galley, where crew were lining up for lunch. The crew fought flooding in the engineering spaces and had the damage under control by the evening. Divers inspected the hull and determined the keel was not damaged.

Seventeen sailors were killed and thirty-nine others were injured in the blast. The injured sailors were taken to the United States Army’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center near Ramstein, Germany and later, back to the United States. The attack was the deadliest against a U.S. Naval vessel since the Iraqi attack on the USS Stark (FFG-31) on 17 May 1987.

The asymmetric warfare attack was organized and directed by Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorist organization. In June 2001, an al-Qaeda recruitment video featuring bin Laden boasted about the attack and encouraged similar attacks.

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