On this day, 15 years ago (October 12th, 2000), while it was harbored and being refueled in the Yemeni port of Aden. 17 American sailors were killed, and 39 were injured. This event was the deadliest attack against a United States Naval vessel since 1987.
The terrorist organization al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack. A U.S. judge has held Sudan liable for the attack, while another has released over $13 million in Sudanese frozen assets to the relatives of those killed. The American Navy has reconsidered their rules of engagement in response to this attack.
As to the “Rules of Engagement”:
The destroyer’s rules of engagement, as approved by the Pentagon, kept its guards from firing upon the small boat (which was not known to be loaded with explosives) as it neared them without first obtaining permission from the Cole ’ s Captain or another Officer.
Petty Officer, John Washak said that right after the blast, a Senior Chief Petty Officer ordered him to turn an M-60 machine gun on the Cole ’ s fantail away from a second small boat approaching. “With blood still on my face”, he was told: “That’s the rules of engagement: no shooting unless we’re shot at.” He added, “In the military, it’s like we’re trained to hesitate now. If somebody had seen something wrong and shot, he probably would have been court-martialed”.