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Commander, Naval Surface Forces Atlantic

Carrier Strike Group 11 Honors USS Cole in U.S. 5th Fleet

by Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11 Public Affairs
12 October 2020
Capt. Max Clark, commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), addresses the crew from the bridge on the 20th anniversary of the attack on USS Cole (DDG 67).
SLIDESHOW | 2 images | USS Nimitz commemorates USS Cole 201012-N-EB640-1018 ARABIAN GULF (Oct. 12, 2020) Capt. Max Clark, commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), addresses the crew from the bridge on the 20th anniversary of the attack on USS Cole (DDG 67). Nimitz, the flagship of Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, conducting missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, and maritime security operations alongside regional and coalition partners. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Seaman Bryant Lang/Released)
Throughout the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11 and accompanying ships commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Oct. 12, 2000 attack on the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) and honored the 17 lives lost.

Cole was anchored off the coast of Aden, Yemen, for refueling when suicide bombers pulled alongside the ship, detonating explosives and creating a 40-by-60 foot hole on the port side of the destroyer.

Operating in the same fleet as the attack two decades prior, it was a priority for the strike group to remember the attack. The strike group, commanded by Rear Adm. Jim Kirk, plans and conducts operations throughout the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

"On this 20th anniversary of the attack on USS Cole, we honor our shipmates who gave their last full measure of devotion, and those who bravely fought for days to save their ship," said Kirk. "We remember 67 today and always."

Aboard the USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), a ceremony was held that included remarks by the chaplain, a 21-gun salute from the ship’s Mark 45 5-inch gun and a wreath laying while Sailors manned the rails.

Aboard the flagship carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), the crew fell silent as Capt. Max Clark, commanding officer, asked for a moment of silence from all hands.

“The crew of the Cole fought for more than 96 hours to save their ship and shipmates,” said Clark, addressing the crew via the ship’s announcing system prior to reading the names of the Sailors killed in the attack. “Their actions are the reason why Cole remains a vital part of our Navy today, with pride.”

Nimitz also kicked off a remembrance run, where for 17 days, 24 hours a day, Sailors will run in honor of each of the 17 fallen Cole Sailors.

The USS Princeton (CG 59) chief petty officers coordinated a presentation to teach the crew about the Cole and its legacy, with Sailors of corresponding rates and ranks speaking about each Sailor who died in the attack.

USS Sterett (DDG 104) Sailors observed a moment of silence and aboard USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53), Sailors were reminded of the lives lost as they passed through a passageway that included the list of 17 names of all those killed during the attack.

Aboard USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), the anniversary at sea was very personal for Master Chief Fire Controlman Craig Cotherman, the cruiser’s acting command master chief.

Twenty years ago as a first class petty officer assigned to the Cole, Cotherman was working in combat systems maintenance central, located on the port side of the ship, one deck above the galley where his shipmates were lining up for lunch when the bomb exploded.

“It changed me forever,” said Cotherman.

Immediately following the blast, crew members rushed to rescue severely injured and trapped shipmates. Despite uncertainties of what may come next, Cole’s crew withstood days of sustained damage control efforts, preventing further flooding and damage.

“It’s a bittersweet moment for me,” said Cotherman, who will not be attending this year’s memorial due to deployment. “My wife is going to attend the ceremony in Norfolk, Va., in my stead, which is some comfort. If I have to miss the reunion, there’s no other place I’d rather be than here in the 5th Fleet doing my job.”

Instead Cotherman spent time on the mess decks sharing his experiences with Sailors aboard Philippine Sea and honoring his Cole shipmates who were killed or injured. The ship also observed a moment of silence and

“I knew each one of them in a different way, but they all made an impact in my life,” he said.

Deploying ships and aircraft of the strike group include Carrier Strike Group 11 staff, flagship carrier Nimitz, the nine squadrons and staff of Carrier Air Wing 17, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 9, the guided-missile destroyer Winston S. Churchill, and the guided-missile cruisers Princeton and Philippine Sea.

The 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse is comprised of 20 countries and includes three chokepoints, critical to the free flow of global commerce.

Please visit the commemoration website to learn more at


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