Sailors on guard duty aboard the US destroyer Cole, damaged last month by a bomb blast in the Yemeni port of Aden, had no ammunition and could not shoot even if they recognized the danger, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Under "rules of engagement" adopted by the US Navy, servicemen cannot fire their weapons without obtaining permission from the ship's captain or another officer first, the newspaper said in a report based on interviews with about 20 surviving crew members.
Seventeen US sailors were killed when a skiff laden with explosives approached the ship on October 12 pretending to be one of the port tender boats.
The apparent suicide bombing blew a huge hole in the port side of the ship, causing extensive damage.
The interviews have also revealed that that Cole may have been boarded and surreptitiously surveyed by Islamic militants as it passed through the Suez Canal a few days before the attack, The Post reported.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has questioned crew members about a Yemeni pilot who guided the ship into Aden harbor and whose behavior was described by some as "agitated," the report said.
Many crewmembers said they had noticed that Yemeni port workers ran into a cement hut right before the explosion, and workers who helped refuel the ship did their jobs a lot faster than usual, according to the Post -- WASHINGTON (AFP)
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