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Cole Explosion Death Toll Rises

By James Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2000 – Three more sailors have died in an apparent terrorist attack against the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen. This brings the death toll to seven. Ten more sailors are missing.

The Navy has identified those killed or missing. Those killed are:

Electronics Technician First Class Richard Costelow, Morrisville, Pa.; Signalman Seaman Recruit Cheron Ouis Gunn, Rex, Ga.; Seaman James Rodrick McDaniels, Norfolk, Va.; Seaman Recruit Lakiba Nicole Palmer, San Diego; Operations Specialist Second Class Timothy Lamont Saunders, Ringold, Va.; Ensign Andrew Triplett, Macon, Miss. and Seaman Apprentice Craig Bryan Wibberley, Williamsport, Md.

Those listed as missing are:

Hull Maintenance Technician Third Class Kenneth Eugene Clodfelter, Mechanicsville, Va.; Mess Management Specialist Seaman Lakeina Monique Francis, Woodleaf, N.C.; Information Systems Technician Seaman Timothy Lee Gauna, Rice, Texas; Engineman Second Class Mark Ian Nieto, Fond Du Lac, Wis.; Electronics Warfare Technician Third Class Ronald Scott Owens, Vero Beach, Fla.; Engineman Fireman Joshua Langdon Parlett, Churchville, Md.; Fireman Apprentice Patrick Howard Roy, Cornwall on Hudson, N.Y.; Electronics Warfare Technician Second Class Kevin Shawn Rux, Portland, N.D.; Mess Management Specialist Third Class Ronchester Mananga Santiago, Kingsville, Texas and Fireman Gary Graham Swenchonis, Jr., Rockport, Texas.

While not confirming a terrorist attack, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark said he cant imagine what else could have caused the damage.

Cohen said that while the United States could not definitively prove terrorism, If we determine that terrorists attacked our ship and killed our sailors, then we will not rest until we have tracked down those who are responsible for this vicious and cowardly act.

Cohen extended his sympathies to the families of those killed, missing or wounded in the incident. All Americans can be proud of the men and women who protect our country around the world, he said during a Pentagon news conference. The world is safer because of their service, and their dedication to our ideals of freedom and security makes their loss even more painful.

The 35 sailors injured in the incident have all been medically evacuated, Navy officials said. French transports evacuated 11 sailors to a hospital in Djibouti. The other 22 are being evacuated to a Landstuhl Army Hospital in Germany.

The search is still underway for the sailors listed as missing in the explosion.

An FBI team is on its way to Aden. The team consists of evidence collection experts, investigators and forensics experts, said Steven Barry, supervisory special agent in the FBIs National Press Office. The agents come from field offices, headquarters and the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. Barry said the team would be able to assess whether the incident was an act of terrorism.

The FBI team will work with agents from the Naval Investigative Service. The FBI Legal Attache based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is also on the site. Three P-3 Orions with medical personnel, Explosive Ordnance disposal specialists and Navy investigators are in Yemen to begin to determine a cause for the incident, Navy officials said.

Navy officials said flooding aboard the ship is contained, and the Cole is listing to port at 4 degrees. Two Navy ships are en route to Aden and expect to arrive there Oct. 13.

The CNO said the Cole followed all security procedures when it arrived in Yemen. Their threat condition posture was threat condition Bravo, Clark said during a Pentagon news conference Oct. 12. I have talked to the [commander Fifth Fleet in Bahrain] a number of times today and reviewed the bidding on this, and they were in the posture that they were required to be in for this threat condition and entering this port, which would include armed personnel topside.

U.S. ships have refueled in Aden 12 times in past year, Navy officials said.

Cohen said the attack would not stop the United States from its search for peace in the region.

The United States is a global power with global responsibilities, and as a result, we face global risks, he said. In the wake of this tragedy, I want to be very clear about one point. We will continue to protect our national interests around the world, in the Middle East, and elsewhere. No one should doubt our resolve to remain a force for peace and for stability, and no one should assume that they can force us to retreat. No one should assume they can attack us with impunity.

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