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Boat Hits USS Cole in Yemen Port; 4 Sailors Dead; Others Wounded, Missing

Aired October 12, 2000 - 10:25 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: In the meantime, though, back to the Pentagon and Jamie McIntyre. Let's pick things up again with the U.S.S. Cole.

And, Jamie, I was talking just a short time ago with David Ensor. Any more information about the listing of this ship, if, indeed, it's sinking in the waters, there, of Yemen?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's no indication that it is sinking, although it did suffer severe flooding after the explosion that happened about noontime, local time, in the port of Aden in Yemen.

Right at this point, all U.S. ships of the fifth fleet have been put on a higher state of alert; and in order to get underway, that is, to get out to sea in order to remove them from any position of vulnerability, that is being done purely as a precautionary measure.

Meanwhile, additional personnel are being rushed from the headquarters of the U.S. fifth fleet to the scene of the incident, including additional medical personnel and also a marine FAST team, which stands for Fleet Anti-terrorism Support Teams, specially trained to deal with terrorist incidents.

All that said, at this point the U.S. government has not officially labeled this a terrorist attack although it has all the earmarks of the terrorist attack. It appears that, around noontime today, while the ship was in port, the U.S.S. Cole, an aegis class destroyer on a routine refueling stop, it was rammed by a small boat -- the description of which is still not clear -- apparently containing high explosives. The resulting explosion put a hole 20-by- 40 feet in the hull of the U.S.S. Cole, causing severe flooding, killing four sailors initially, resulting in 12 sailors missing and more than 30 injured, some with severe burns.

Again, the U.S. is treating this as a suspected terrorist attack, but they have not officially labeled it as such so far. If it was attack, it was pretty well-planned and, perhaps, based on some inside information because the Cole was only supposed to be there four to six hours, just long enough to get refueled and the arrival of the ship had not been advertised ahead of time.

This is one of the ships that takes part in the enforcement of the maritime oil embargo against Iraq in the Persian Gulf. Again, part of the ships of U.S. fifth fleet that is headquartered in Bahrain.

At this point, the military says its primary goal is to make sure that the sailors get medical attention; that the damage -- the flooding on the ship is stabilized and that the families of those who have been killed or missing are updated with information as the Navy has it. At this point no one has claimed responsibility but, again the Pentagon is treating this as though it's a suspected terrorist attack.

HEMMER: All right, Jamie. Jamie McIntyre live there again. In a very broad sense, we'll track it throughout the day and find out when the U.S. military, indeed, will declare a cause for what we saw on board the U.S.S. Cole.

We'll talk with a retired U.S. Navy captain about the aegis destroyer shortly.

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