Navy says warship hit by ‘blast from outside;’ releases names of 17 victims


Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Navy bomb experts have determined without doubt that the explosion that tore through the warship USS Cole, killing 17, "was a blast from the outside," adding to the evidence that it was a deliberate act, Adm. Vern Clark said today.

"I’ve said all along, from where I stand, in my view this was clearly a terrorist act," Clark, the chief naval officer, said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Navy officials said today that the 10 sailors still missing from the USS Cole are now presumed to have died. Seven bodies have been recovered. Officials said they expected to find more today.

"We don’t want to destroy hope, but we don’t want to create false hope, either," Clark said. Other Navy officials said the assumption is that the missing are dead, but there will be no formal change in their status until they are recovered, since the bodies are known to be inside the ship.

The Navy released the names of the 17 Friday. All but one is from the enlisted ranks. Two are female.

Navy officials also said explosives experts who examined the ship’s damaged hull have concluded that the blast — which created a hole 30 feet high and 40 feet wide at the ship’s waterline — came from an external source.

"There had been some talk that this was a blast internal to the ship; their conclusion is: no way," Clark said. "Clearly it was a blast from outside."

Clark said he was not aware whether the explosives experts reached any conclusions about the type or size of explosive used in the attack. "It’s going to take scientific dissection" to make those determinations, he said.

Navy spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Cate Mueller said families of the 10 missing sailors are being notified that they are presumed to have died in the explosion. Efforts to recover their remains are continuing, she said.

In addition to the seven confirmed dead and 10 missing, about 33 were injured in the blast Thursday. Lt. Cmdr. Daren Pelkie, a spokesman at 5th Fleet headquarters in Bahrain, said Friday that 11 of the 33 had been flown to a French military medical facility in Djibouti, and the 22 others were being readied for transport to Germany.

Mueller said the Navy would release the names of the casualties when all families have been notified.

Clark, interviewed on NBC’s "Today," said all but three of the families of the dead and missing had been notified. "The individuals we haven’t located yet aren’t home. They are traveling some place and that’s the challenge for us."

A death toll of 17 would be the highest for a terrorist attack on the American military since the bombing of the Khobar Towers housing complex in Saudi Arabia in 1996, which killed 17 Air Force troops.

Mueller said a team of Navy explosive ordnance disposal experts examined the damaged hull of the USS Cole and determined conclusively that the explosion was caused by an external source. It is believed to have come from a small boat that pulled up alongside the warship Thursday in the port of Aden and set off a high-explosive charge.

The conclusion reached by the explosives experts strengthens the belief that the incident was a terrorist act, officials said.

The divers who examined the hull now estimate that the hole created by the blast is 30 feet high and 40 feet wide, Mueller said. The initial estimate was 20 feet high and 40 feet wide.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

More in Local News

FILE - A sign hangs at a Taco Bell on May 23, 2014, in Mount Lebanon, Pa. Declaring a mission to liberate "Taco Tuesday" for all, Taco Bell asked U.S. regulators Tuesday, May 16, 2023, to force Wyoming-based Taco John's to abandon its longstanding claim to the trademark. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
Hepatitis A confirmed in Taco Bell worker in Everett, Lake Stevens

The health department sent out a public alert for diners at two Taco Bells on May 22 or 23.

VOLLI’s Director of Food & Beverage Kevin Aiello outside of the business on Friday, May 19, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Coming soon to Marysville: indoor pickleball, games, drinks

“We’re very confident this will be not just a hit, but a smash hit,” says co-owner Allan Jones, who is in the fun industry.

Detectives: Unresponsive baby was exposed to fentanyl at Everett hotel

An 11-month-old boy lost consciousness Tuesday afternoon. Later, the infant and a twin sibling both tested positive for fentanyl.

Cassie Franklin (left) and Nick Harper (right)
Report: No wrongdoing in Everett mayor’s romance with deputy mayor

An attorney hired by the city found no misuse of public funds. Texts between the two last year, however, were not saved on their personal phones.

Firearm discovered by TSA officers at Paine Field Thursday morning, May 11, 2023, during routine X-ray screening at the security checkpoint. (Transportation Security Administration)
3 guns caught by TSA at Paine Field this month — all loaded

Simple travel advice: Unpack before you pack to make sure there’s not a gun in your carry-on.

Heavy traffic northbound on 1-5 in Everett, Washington on August 31, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
To beat the rush this Memorial Day weekend, go early or late

AAA projects busy airports, ferries and roads over the holiday weekend this year, though still below pre-pandemic counts.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Troopers: DUI crash leaves 1 in critical condition in Maltby

A drunken driver, 34, was arrested after her pickup rear-ended another truck late Tuesday, injuring a Snohomish man, 28.

Housing Hope CEO Donna Moulton raises her hand in celebration of the groundbreaking of the Housing Hope Madrona Highlands on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$30M affordable housing project to start construction soon in Edmonds

Once built, dozens of families who are either homeless or in poverty will move in and receive social and work services.

A south-facing view of the proposed site for a new mental health facility on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, near 300th Street NW and 80th Avenue NW north of Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
County Council OK’s Stanwood behavioral health center

After an unsuccessful appeal to block it, the Tulalip Tribes are now on the cusp of building the 32-bed center in farmland.

Most Read