Eleven months before the events of September 11, the USS Cole, an American guided missile destroyer, was on its way to Bahrain. It planned to make a port visit where the headquarters of America's Fifth Fleet is located.
Needing fuel on 12 October 2000, the Arleigh-Burke class destroyer made a scheduled refueling stop at the Port of Aden in Yemen. As it "was mooring to a harbor refueling island," a "small boat exploded alongside" the ship, causing a 40-by-40-foot hole amidship on the port side.
The Cole's crew immediately responded with significant damage control. Among other things, they wrapped and plugged the hull at the point where a propeller shaft had penetrated the destroyer's hull. U.S. Marines were sent in to set up special checkpoints around the Port of Aden.
The U.S. Navy's pictures of the USS Cole - in its injured state and as it was transported back to America aboard the Norwegian heavy transport Blue Marlin - are on-line:
Early on it was clear the explosion had been a terrorist attack. Within a year, the finger of responsibility pointed directly at Osama Bin Laden whose Yemeni family had migrated to Saudi Arabia many years before.