U.S.S. Cole

October 26, 2000

The tragic terrorist action against the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen has once again surfaced questions about military readiness and military security. As the investigation continues into the bombing and subsequent actions by the Navy, it might be good to put two pieces of information on the table that haven't been given as much coverage.

Some have been critical of the captain of the U.S.S. Cole for stopping to refuel in Yemen. As one officer put it, "The place is a snake pit. I can't believe we are sending U.S. warships there, especially when there is so much unrest in the region." Some questioned the wisdom of refueling in Yemen when conditions in Jerusalem are coming apart.

Now, I won't try to second guess the captain. But I think it's important to recognize two very important facts. First, Yemen used to be on the State Department's list of State Sponsors of Terrorism (SSOT). In the past, the Navy would not have been allowed to refuel in Yemen because of this designation. This might be something to remember as this administration is seeking to remove the same designation from North Korea.

Second, the possibility of refueling at sea is quite limited. The number of ships the Navy has in operation is about half of the number in operation at the end of the Reagan administration. In particular, the Navy now only has 23 oilers (refueling ships). One of those oilers has never been assigned to a single ship such as the U.S.S. Cole. So refueling at sea was not an option for the captain of the U.S.S. Cole.

The captain was doing the best he could with the hand that the Clinton administration dealt him. Whatever decisions he could have made were greatly influenced by policies implemented by the State Department and the Defense Department.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.