|SLUG: 2-268011 U-S Ship Sink (L-O)||DATE:||NOTE NUMBER:|
TITLE= U-S SHIP ATTACK (L-O)
BYLINE= ALEX BELIDA
INTRO: In Washington, Navy officials have disclosed that the destroyer U-S-S Cole came close to sinking after being attacked last week in a Yemeni harbor by terrorist bombers. Pentagon Correspondent Alex Belida reports.
TEXT: As engineers and investigators pore over the Cole in Aden harbor, Navy officials in Washington have revealed for the first time the billion-dollar destroyer was in danger of sinking in the hours immediately after the bomb attack.
The attack by an explosives-laden small boat tore a gaping 13 by 15-meter hole midway down the side of ship, at the waterline adjacent to an engine room. As one Navy spokeswoman puts it - it was a very, very serious hole.
Lieutenant Commander Cate Mueller tells V-O-A the damage was so severe that the Cole's fate was in doubt for several hours. She notes it took more than 12-hours before the ship's captain could report the flooding had been brought under control and that the destroyer, though listing, was in stable condition.
She says it must have been a grim experience, with sailors fighting for the life of their ship while trying to deal with the dead and wounded.
Officials familiar with the damage describe a scene of twisted, gnarled steel and blackened compartments. The bodies of most of the 17 sailors killed in the attack are still trapped in the debris.
The Navy is planning to contract with a civilian, so-called heavy-lift ship, the Blue Marlin, to bring the damaged Cole back to the United States.
The vessel is currently in Dubai and will take about a week to get to Aden. The Cole will be towed out of the harbor into deeper water to be taken aboard the Blue Marlin. It would then take the vessels about a month to get back to the United States. (SIGNED)