USS Cole: The missile destroyer deployed to support the UAE against Houthi attacks

It is the same warship that was attacked by Al Qaeda militants on October 12, 2000



(FILES) This file photo US Navy photo obtained February 3, 2017 shows the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67). Photo: AFP
(FILES) This file photo US Navy photo obtained February 3, 2017 shows the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67). Photo: AFP

By Chidanand Rajghatta, Washington

Published: Thu 3 Feb 2022, 8:52 PM

Last updated: Thu 3 Feb 2022, 10:17 PM

Ukraine may be occupying US mind space to a large degree in recent times, but the UAE is far from forgotten. The commitment by the Biden administration this week to militarily support the Emirates from missile attacks by Houthis is underwritten by a bold move: the deployment of USS Cole to the region in what is more than a symbolic show of strength.

It is the same missile destroyer that was attacked by Al Qaeda militants on October 12, 2000 - a precursor to 9/11 - during a port call in Aden, resulting in the death of 17 US Navy sailors.

In a phone call with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces on Monday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin not only pledged to deploy 5th generation fighters to the region to counter Houthi attacks, but also committed to send USS Cole-- despite its traumatic past - to conduct a joint patrol with the UAE Navy and make a port call in Abu Dhabi.

Current fifth-generation fighters with the US Air Force, described as game-changers, include the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.

They are deployed with closest US allies, including Japan and Australia, and there has been some talk of UAE acquiring it.

A Pentagon readout said the US would also continue to provide early warning intelligence and collaborate on air defence with UAE.

"We take our defence relationship very seriously with the Emirates. We recognize the threats that they are under in a very real way," Pentagon Spokesperson John Kirby said at a briefing this week that centered mostly on Ukraine, adding that the US will not rule out "additional steps" to help the UAE.

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The US commitments come after Iran-backed Houthi rebels launched a series of missiles attacks at the UAE in recent weeks. Undeterred, Washington is committing USS Cole, fixed and fit for service after two suicide bombers, with alleged Sudanese support, blew a 40-by-60-foot hole in the ship's port side using C4 explosives.

The warship was eventually piggybacked to the US where it took three years to repair the damages. It has since been deployed worldwide, including a brief return to Aden in 2006 when its sailors paid homage to their slain compatriots and another time earlier this year.

According to the US Navy, USS Cole is designed as a multi-mission destroyer, able to fulfil the strategic land strike role with Tomahawk missiles; anti-aircraft warfare (AAW) role with powerful Aegis radar and surface-to-air missiles; anti-submarine warfare (ASW) with towed sonar array, anti-submarine rockets, and ASW helicopter; and anti-surface warfare (ASuW) with Harpoon missile launcher.

reporters@khaleejtimes.com


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