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USS Cole Investigation Under Way in Yemen

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2000 – The U.S. inquiry is under way into the Oct. 12 terrorist bombing of the destroyer USS Cole in Aden, Yemen, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen told reporters here Oct. 16.

The toll in the Cole attack is seven sailors confirmed dead, 10 sailors missing and presumed dead, and more than 30 others injured. Navy officials estimated Oct. 16 that ongoing recovery operations would retrieve the remains of all the dead by Oct. 19.

Cohen spoke to the press shortly before departing Andrews Air Force Base, Md., to attend the fourth annual Defense Ministerial of the Americas in Manaus, Brazil. Scheduled to spend four days in Brazil and overnighters in Chile and Argentina, he cut the trip to a single day in Manaus to attend an Oct. 18 memorial service in Norfolk, Va., for the Cole's blast victims.

"There's been quite an influx of personnel both military, Justice, FBI and Navy investigators, SEAL teams, etc.," Cohen said. He said the USS Tarawa, amphibious transport USS Duluth and dock landing ship USS Anchorage are off the coast of Yemen to provide additional berthing for the U.S. teams that have arrived on the scene.

Pentagon officials Oct. 16 also placed the frigate USS Hawes, combat support ship USS Camden and destroyer USS Donald Cook in support roles in Aden, Yemen.

"We're getting full cooperation from the Yemeni government. Everything we have asked for they are now providing, according to the ambassador," Cohen noted. The United States, he said, expects Yemen to continue to fully cooperate with the FBI and others who are trying to track down the individuals associated with the attack and to investigate any security breeches that may have occurred.

Cohen would not discuss security, saying only that U.S. forces take appropriate measures when they are in dangerous areas. "I think Ill just leave it at that until we have more information," he said.

No early warnings have emerged, though, the secretary told reporters. "We receive (warnings) every day around the globe," Cohen said. "We try to analyze (them) for their credibility, specificity, or lack of it. All I can tell you today is there was no indication that we had of a specific plan against this ship."

He told reporters he had no information on the force of the blast. Several groups claim responsibility for the attack, but no claim has been confirmed, he said.

U.S. officials will conclude the inquiry as soon as possible, he added.

The Navy announced a contract award Oct. 16 to a Norwegian company for use of its unusual transport, the Blue Marlin, which will haul the Cole piggyback to its home port of Norfolk. The Navy created a USS Cole Web site with that story and extensive links at www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/news/news_stories/cole.html.

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