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Retired Navy Captain Alec Fraser Discusses Attack on USS ColeAired October 12, 2000 - 10:35 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: We've been talking earlier today about the USS Cole, located in the port city of Aden in lower Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula. The word we're getting now is that this destroyer has been hit by explosives traveling along a small watercraft. Four U.S. Navy sailors have been killed; more than 30 have been injured, some of them with severe burns. In addition to that, the U.S. Navy is saying 12 U.S. sailors are now reported missing.
Alec Fraser, retired Navy captain, former captain of a U.S. Navy Aegis cruiser, now works here at Turner, president of Turner Properties.
Good morning to you, sir. We were talking about this ship listing at this point. It has a sizable hole, anywhere from 20 to 40 feet, depending on the measurements. Is there any chance of this boat going down in the waters?
CAPT. ALEC FRASER, U.S. NAVY (RET.): I think that it's important to know that the entire damage control, firefighting team that is normally available on a ship in combat is available on board this ship right now. So the chances of it having further damage or, in fact, sinking are very slim.
HEMMER: What is your take on this ship being in port and being a victim of attack?
FRASER: Being in port and a victim of attack is a relative look at how you think the threat in that particular port is. There are lots of small boats that are going by constantly. You're in a wartime environment, you prevent them from getting close to the ship. But if it's a peacetime environment, there is no way to defend against it.
HEMMER: Being a military person, then, give us an idea of what the defense mechanisms are put in place to make sure that ship is indeed secure, depending on where it is, whether it's open waters or, in this case, in port.
FRASER: In port, you would normally have some security patrols on the foksal (ph) in the fore part of the ship, on the backside of the ship. And your primary concern is not being able to allow people to board the ship, not to defend against a small craft attack.
HEMMER: Let's give our viewers an idea, certainly for folks who are in the miltiary who are quite familiar with this type of ship. It's well-advanced. It's an Aegis destroyer. It's quite capable of a number of things. Take us through it quickly here as we look at the picture.
FRASER: An Aegis cruiser has a crew of around 350 people. It has Tomahawk harpoons, surface-to-air missiles. It has the most advanced damage control systems that the Navy has. It has a radar system that can track multiple targets, engage multiple targets simultaneously. It is the most advanced war-fighting machine on the surface of the globe today and is well-prepared to handle any type of contingency.
HEMMER: I've taken tours of this type of water -- type of ship and I can tell you it is quite impressive. There have been displays given for the public and for journalists and the media at different times. And I found one of the most impressive things on this ship to be the size and the ability of the Gatlin guns that sit on both sides, port and starboard.
FRASER: The Gatlin guns are designed as a last-ditch defense against enemy missiles. They would not be something that would be applied inside a port like this to defend against small attack, however.
HEMMER: What do make of the reports we're getting from the U.S. military being reticent right now to go ahead and call this a terrorist attack? How does it work within the chain of command, an investigation as to when they feel safe enough to declare the reason for why this ship was hit?
FRASER: I think the captain's primary responsibility right now is defending his crew, making sure that everyone is accounted for or controlling the damage. And so the reports going out as to what actually caused it are something that he would focus on after that stuff.
HEMMER: What type of personnel travel on board this ship?
FRASER: The crew is 350 people. It has a wide range of officers and enlisted personnel that are trained to both damage control and missile technology and computer technology. It has the best the Navy has to offer.
HEMMER: Capt. Alec Fraser, retired U.S. Navy captain, appreciate your time on this thing. And we'll watch it throughout the day. Getting more reports again about the injured, about the missing, not only here in Atlanta, but also the Pentagon in Washington. Sir, thanks.
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