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Norfolk Naval Shipyard volunteers played pivotal role assisting USS Cole following attack

By Michael Brayshaw, NNSY Lead Public Affairs Specialist | Oct. 12, 2020


Many have heard about the courageous and committed efforts of the USS Cole (DDG 67) crew to stabilize the ship following its attack twenty years ago on Oct. 12, 2000. What is less known is that 22 Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) employees played an instrumental role in providing relief to the crippled ship and its remaining crew following the bombing causing the deaths of 17 U.S. Sailors and wounding 39 others while the ship was refueling in Yemen.

When the NNSY volunteers arrived at Yemen’s Port of Aden, they encountered a situation as dubious as it was dangerous. “Increased security, because of the heightened threat condition combined with the existing chaos, made access to the ship a complex undertaking,” then NNSY Production Resources Officer Captain Lee Anderson said.

Along with heightened security to contend with, the volunteers from NNSY’s workforce had a three-hour commute from their temporary residences to reach the ship. Once aboard, the volunteers had to perform work despite frequent power outages.

Ever resourceful, the employees of NNSY utilized flashlights, all the while sweating through triple-digit heat and frequently having to perform makeshift repairs while treading water. Capt. Anderson praised the volunteers in saying, “they stand as shining examples of the types of employees we have here at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.”

Two months later, on Dec. 15, 2000, the NNSY volunteers were recognized by then Shipyard Commander Captain Mark Hugel with a Meritorious Civilian Service Award.  These volunteers were Daniel Hall, Lewis Bowen, Joe Carlsen, Larry Williford, William Hunter, Michael Meginley, Carl Whitehead, David Penn, Earl Clarke, John Eli, William Shambley, Dennis Jones, Ronald Glenn, Dennis Hamilton, David Tatum, Charles Estrada, William Ladow, Larry Thompson, Robert Murphy, James Miller, Irving Dewberry and Project Manager Kenny Baggett.

In addition to CAPT Hugel commending the volunteers who braved the perilous situation at the Port of Aden, he also thanked those NNSY employees back home who provided an integral support team for the Cole volunteers. “It reinforced, to the rest of the Navy, our motto: ‘Any ship, Anytime, Anywhere,’ CAPT Hugel said.