The explosion was ``so loud I thought it was from inside the hotel. The windows in 21 of our 33 rooms were shattered, and many of the television sets fell and broke,'' said Ahmed Mohammed Al-Naderi, manager of the port-side Rock Hotel. ``Thank God, none of the guests or hotel personnel were injured.'' -Associated Press

In Yemen today, a suspected terrorist attack on the USS Cole blew a 20 by 40 foot hole in the hull of the ship, a Navy Destroyer. The injured were being flown to Germany.

The 505-foot long ship had stopped for refueling and was on the Bravo (moderate) alert level, but it was not advertised to be in the area, because to do that would probably be a bad idea. This seems to lend some credit to this being a well-planned strike. Other ships were ordered out to sea as a result of the bombing and placed on a higher state of alert.

The missing sailors were thought to be working in the engine room. After a few hours, the flooding water was contained, but the ship was still on a 4 degree angle, in stable condition, and so the crew of men and women stayed on board. Both males and females are listed as casualties.

Supposedly, two men were steering a small boat into a vulnerable part of the ship, perhaps meaning they knew exactly where to go to get the most damage.

The ship's home port was in Norfolk, Virginia, and it was heading towards the Persian Gulf to help with the sanctions against Iraq.

This seems to be the first reported attack against a US Ship since '91, when the USS LaSalle, a Command Ship, was fired upon with automatic weapons while in the Persian Gulf.

The 'Alert' that danlowlite talks about is known as a Threat Condition, aka THREATCON. THREATCON Bravo is pretty much standard in the gulf when there is any sort of tension in the area (like now). THREATCON B translates to: "There are terrorists around, and they're planning things against the US, but nothing specific." THREATCON C means that Terrorists are specifically planning an act of terrorism against YOU! THREATCON C is only put into place in specific locations.

I was in the gulf in 1998 on an amphib ship. We had planned to stop in Aden for an overnight refueling, but upon recommendation from the American Embassy in Yemen, our admiral cancelled the port visit because it wasn't considered a safe place to go then.

And by the way, if it was your friend, or your brother, or your sister, or your son or daughter, or your mom or dad, I'll bet you'd think the soft links below suck too.

Have some class, everythingians. Not everything is a joke on here.

To comment on the writings of mat catastrophe, Zeolite, and ShadowNode:

1. Just to be safe, let me say that I am a sailor in the US Navy, but these are my opinions only and do not necessarily reflect the views of the US Navy or other sailors.

2. mat catastrophe has a good point. The US position and actions with regard to Iraq do not make moral sense. The August issue of the Utne Reader printed an article about the effects of both the sanctions and the low level conflict that has been simmering there for the last three years. It opened my eyes to the Iraqi people's side of things.
It really sucks there. Alot. People die all the time lacking necessities we would not even conceive of doing without. Here's another thing--We drop bombs on them all the time too, and contrary to some beliefs, we sometimes miss the intended target.

So, what does that mean to me and the American public? I think that it is really too bad that the Iraqis are being punished for a corrupt and inhumane leadership, but I also don't want to be responsible for policing and rebuilding Iraq for the next fifty years. For me, and most Americans, the lives of our relatives and neighbors mean more to us than the lives of unknown Iraqis. It sucks, but I think it's true. Deep down, I'd rather other people die than me. There you go, my ugly secret. Call me a murderer, but by a fortunate accident of birth, I am an american fighting for my country, not an Iraqi.

That is not to say that the course we are on could not use some work, but as a sailor, even an officer, it is not my job to make policy--That is your job, US civilians. If you don't like it, VOTE YOUR CONSCIENCE NOT YOUR GAS TANK.

For Zeolite-- The Mai Lai Massacre demonstrated very clearly that American Soldiers and sailors do not abdicate moral responsibility when they take the oath to support and defend the constitution of the United States. Instead, if an order given to us is illegal or morally abhorent, it is our responsibility to refuse to obey that order and prevent others from following it. As far as I know, no one has refused to support the UN sanctions on Iraq.

For shadownode: I think you're just trying to piss people off, so I'll do what mamma always says and not say anything at all.

So anyway, I need to go see if I can finish some work for the hundred babykillers and murderers who work for me and protect all you US citizens (oh who am I kidding, most of the world) from the terrors of expensive gasoline and rogue states. Sleep tight, and enjoy your coffee and cigarettes tomorrow morning.

Whoops. So much for not saying anything.

She smiled at me on the wooden deck of the church, cigarette pressed between her lips, wearing the not-quite-healed wounds on her face like badges of honor, pinned to her dress whites.

"So I guess I'm even uglier now," she said.

Everyone standing there knew that to be a lie. We had grown up with her, all of us, to some degree or another, in the sparsely-decorated and often-flooded youth-group room and the back seat of our sponsor's Suburban. She was beautiful, perhaps not so much in terms of physical attraction, but in the air of sophistication, of class, of honor that she radiated.

I bummed a cigarette from my friend Bree, staring up at the canopy of live oak trees as I lit it, slowly dragging on it as we all gathered around. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding our reunion, we had missed her. My mind, like the conversation, drifted in the cool, moist November breeze. The gravity of the situation had been lifted immediately upon seeing her, upon knowing she was alright, and we were all just old friends again.

"So I met President Clinton," she said, "and he looks exactly like how they draw him in the cartoons."

First person I ever knew who received a Purple Heart. The thought didn't cross my mind then, but with the present situation in mind, I hope to god she will be the last - the only. She seemed proud enough of it, though - I suppose when something like that happens to you, all you can do is laugh. After all, doing anything else is simply too damn painful.

"And Chelsea is one ugly bitch."

All you can do is laugh.

She finished her cigarette and flicked it into the metal ashtray, where it extinguished itself in the yellow-tinted water. We went our separate ways, decidedly different interests no doubt in both our minds that day. Still, seeing her had made me stop worrying. I guess that's what these things are about.

Petty Officer Keisha Stidham was injured in the attack on the USS Cole on October 12, 2000. I saw her at church a month later, and she seemed to be dealing with it. I haven't seen her since, but I sincerely hope she is doing alright.

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