Front Burner: Al Qaeda's Attack on the USS Cole

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On October 12, 2000, eleven months before the 9/11 attacks, the USS Cole docked in the port of Aden in Yemen for a routine fueling stop.  At 1118, on a hot, sunny morning, the 8,400-ton destroyer was rocked by an enormous explosion. The ship’s commander, Kirk Lippold, felt the ship violently thrust up and to the right, as everything not bolted down seemed to float in midair. Tiles tumbled from the ceiling, and the ship was plunged into darkness, beginning to sink. In a matter of moments Lippold knew that the...

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Front Burner: Al Qaeda's Attack on the USS Cole

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Overview

On October 12, 2000, eleven months before the 9/11 attacks, the USS Cole docked in the port of Aden in Yemen for a routine fueling stop.  At 1118, on a hot, sunny morning, the 8,400-ton destroyer was rocked by an enormous explosion. The ship’s commander, Kirk Lippold, felt the ship violently thrust up and to the right, as everything not bolted down seemed to float in midair. Tiles tumbled from the ceiling, and the ship was plunged into darkness, beginning to sink. In a matter of moments Lippold knew that the Cole had been attacked. What he didn’t know was how much the world was changing around him.
 
The bombing of the Cole was al Qaeda’s first direct assault against the United States and expanded their brazen and deadly string of terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East. In this gripping first-person narrative, Lippold reveals the details of this harrowing experience leading his crew of valiant sailors through the attack and its aftermath. Seventeen sailors died in the explosion and thirty-seven were wounded—but thanks to the valor of the crew in the perilous days that followed, the ship was saved.
 
Yet even with al Qaeda’s intentions made clear in an unmistakable act of war, the United States government delayed retaliating. Bureaucrats and politicians sought to shift and pin blame as they ignored the danger signaled by the attack, shirking responsibility until the event was ultimately overshadowed by 9/11.
 
Front Burner captures a critical moment in America’s battle against al Qaeda, telling a vital story that has—until now—been lost in the fog of the war on terror.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

William J. Perry, 19th Secretary of Defense

"Front Burner is a personal story of loss, and pain - but it is also a story of courage, determination, respect, honor, and integrity that each and every man and woman on the USS Cole demonstrated that day, on September 11, 2001 and indeed today. This book and the story of the men and women that it recounts is an inspiration.”

Kirkus Reviews
“Lippold delivers a personal, opinionated account of the last outrage before 9/11 which should have galvanized our leaders but didn’t.”

Norfolk Virginian-Pilot

“Compelling and poignant… [Lippold] ends his main narrative on a high note, writing, ‘The crew of USS Cole saved their ship and their shipmates. All of them are my heroes.’ Reading this book or passing the somber Cole memorial at Norfolk Naval Station, one can feel only that they are our heroes as well.”

Huntington News
"Front Burner" is an important work of military history and stands as an essential recounting of a critical moment in America's battle against Al Qaeda.”
 
History Net
“An earnestly told tale of bravery and determination. It provides gripping detail about the Cole attack—much of it not previously revealed—as well as its grisly aftermath… It opens a pre-9/11 window into the government's failure to share intelligence with those most in need of it.  Lippold saves his most generous words for his crew's magnificent performance in casualty assistance and damage control during the days following the attack, when the flooding of two of the ship's engine rooms threatened to sink it. His pride in the crew's performance is palpable.”

Kirkus Reviews
A meticulous history of the USS Cole attack and America's response, which Lippold, the ship's commander at the time, considers shamefully weak, laying the groundwork for what followed. On Oct. 12, 2000, suicide bombers attacked the Cole in the port of Aden in Yemen, killing 17 crewmen and injuring twice as many. Eleven months later, 9/11 captured our attention, but the Cole attack remains a vivid memory for the ship's commander. After reviewing his 20-year career in the peacetime Navy, Lippold cuts to the immense explosion, which everyone first assumed was a refueling accident. There follows nearly 200 pages of exhaustive description of the devastating damage, the crew's heroic response, which saved the ship from sinking, and 20 days of assistance, repairs, politics and investigation that did not end when the Cole returned to the United States. In the final 100 pages, the author recounts the fate of the ship (repaired), the lives of the survivors and bereaved and the many inquiries: into the crime, into the Navy's antiterrorism policy and into Lippold's conduct. Traditionally, losing a ship ends its commander's career. Not concealing his resentment, Lippold recounts several historical exceptions and then describes in painful detail how his superiors absolved him of blame but surrendered to political pressure. He was repeatedly denied promotion and retired in 2007. Unlike many military memoirs, this one shows little partisan bias, as the author expresses equal contempt for the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations. While the best examination of our failure to take al-Qaeda seriously remains Lawrence Wright's The Looming Tower (2006), Lippold delivers a personal, opinionated account of the last outrage before 9/11 which should have galvanized our leaders but didn't.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781610391245
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 4/10/2012
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Commander Kirk Lippold was the commanding officer of the USS Cole during Al Qaeda's attack in October 2000. Lippold's personal awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, and Combat Action Ribbon, among others. He retired from the Navy in 2007 and remains active in current events and national security affairs. He lives in Carson City, Nevada.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Damage to the USS Cole xv

USS Cole: Killed in Action xvii

USS Cole: Wounded in Action xix

Introduction: Nightmare xxi

1 Destination USS Cole 1

2 Deployment to the Middle East 23

3 A "Routine" Refueling Stop 37

4 Attacked 47

5 Saving the Ship 61

6 Saving the Wounded 73

7 The Bucket Brigade 107

8 Assessing the Damage 135

9 Recovering the Fallen 151

10 Recovering From Stress 169

11 Underway Again 201

12 M/V Blue Marlin and USS Tarawa 217

13 Investigation and Responsibility 231

14 The Long Journey Home 267

Epilogue 297

Appendix Threat Condition Measures 337

Notes 347

Index 351

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2012

    As a former crew member who served onboard the USS COLE during t

    As a former crew member who served onboard the USS COLE during the time of the attack, I cannot express deeply enough my gratitude for the effort CDR Lippold made to so expertly record the history of this event. This is a book I look forward to passing down to my children so they understand the heritage of their family. While I am able to bring to my mind the exact faces behind the names and the views of the spaces referred in the book, I also feel that the book is easily understood by those without Navy experience. My wife enjoyed the book just as much as I did. The book is not a simple list of facts in chronological order, but rather, it is the story of the emotions and effort that went into saving the ship and our shipmates.

    The key to this book is that the dead and wounded who served onboard the COLE are finally given a heroes place. They were men and women who laid down their life on behalf of their country and they deserve our gratitude. Before 9/11 there was 10/12.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 21, 2012

    If you're interested in what went on behind the scenes in the wa

    If you're interested in what went on behind the scenes in the war on terror, get this book! You will not be disappointed. Many thanks to the Skipper for penning this archival document. Now the world will know why "we" say, "before 9-11 there was 10-12." Bravo Zulu to Kirk Lippold for a job well done and a book well written. A MUST READ!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2014

    Good but lacking

    I thought this book was good but lacking some. The good part is the way it documents the crew and their actions. Not much has been written about what they went through, and the book captures it perfectly. What is lacking is there isn't too much on the terrorists. Well I wasn't expecting a biography on the terrorists, it would've been nice to get more on the planning/execution/investigation of the attack.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2013

    USS Cole will not be forgotten

    As a sister of a shipmate aboard the USS Cole. I find it breath taking. Thank you for sharing this book with the world. I know that there are more stories like this one deep in the hearts and minds of others just like yourself. I want to thank you again for writing as well as your service to the Navy and the United States. God Bless

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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