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HomeNewsArchivesUSS COLE MAKING 4-DAY CALL AT ST. JOHN

USS COLE MAKING 4-DAY CALL AT ST. JOHN

Aug. 10, 2002 – St. John is hosting more than 300 Navy visitors from Saturday until Tuesday, the ship's complement of the USS Cole, which is anchored off Lind Point.
The Cole made news around the world on Oct. 12, 2000, when terrorists attacked the guided missile destroyer while it was docked in Aden, Yemen, killing 17 of those aboard and injuring 39.
On Saturday, the ship's 310 crew members came ashore in an intermittent stream starting just before noon. "We're here to have fun," said one with the last name of Henson.
Henson, who declined to identify himself further, was on duty at the checkpoint near the V.I. National Park Visitor Center in Cruz Bay.
Security is tight for the Cole's visit. Yellow barricades restrict access to the area where a ferry drops the sailors off for their shore leave. In previous visits, the Navy has shared the park dock and bulkhead with the usual Cruz Bay traffic.
Most of the other sailors corralled for interviews also were reluctant to speak, even about what they hoped to find ashore.
"Food, hotel," said a terse Benjamin Smith, a Tennessee native striding near the post office with several suitcase-carrying friends.
His group didn't appear too interested to know they were headed in the wrong direction for the "Tamarind Reef," actually the Inn at Tamarind Court, where Smith said they had reservations. A sailor whose shirt tag gave her last name as Ramirez said she planned to go to the beach.
Two crew members on shore patrol, decked out in their whites, were a bit more willing to talk about what they were looking for on St. John. "Shopping — for whatever comes up," said Mary Anderson, 32, of Indiana, strolling past the Creek with Dexter Stocking. Like all of the other sailors stopped on the street, Stocking, 28 and from Michigan, said this is his first trip to St. John.
Colleen Combs of C&C Port Services said the Navy likes St. John as a port of call because it's "easy." "It's American, it's comfortable, but it's still Caribbean," she explained, having just come ashore after assisting the ship to enter St. John.
While the sailors are enjoying their visit, cash registers are jingling. "We're getting killed right now," said a very busy Steve Morrell, who was not complaining, at Woody's Seafood Saloon and Restaurant. His establishment is often the in-place for sailors on leave.
At the Inn at Tamarind Court, owner Betty Berlin said Saturday that except for two economy rooms suitable only for singles, she was full up. "But the phone's been ringing off the hook," she said.
The 505-foot Cole homeports in Norfolk, Virginia. After the terrorist attack, the ship was out of service until April.

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