Pentagon Spokesman's Regular Tuesday Briefing

DoD News Briefing Tuesday, October 24, 2000 - 1:30 p.m. EDT Presenter: Rear Adm. Craig R. Quigley, DASD PA Yesterday Secretary Cohen met with General Crouch and Admiral Gehman, the co-chairs of the commission that will study the bombing of the USS Cole to extract lessons learned. Secretary Cohen told them that the goal of the lessons learned inquiry is to improve force protection and that they would have the full cooperation of the Joint Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. General Shelton also attended the meeting. Secretary Cohen did not set a deadline for the work but said he hoped that they would complete their review as soon as possible. General Crouch and Admiral Gehman are currently hiring a staff, drafting a work plan, and arranging travel to Aden. I expect that they will give you a briefing on their plans in the next several days. .... Quigley: Blue Martin got underway yesterday from Dubai, and she is scheduled to arrive there this weekend, Saturday, I believe. She is being escorted by a U.S. Navy destroyer, the Hamilton, Paul Hamilton. She is expected to get there this Saturday and will need to move ultimately - will start immediately in preparing to load the Cole. Because of the water depth - I think you all have seen sketches or videotape of how the Blue Marlin operates. You literally sink the vessel, flood her down to a seawater or a sea level depth, and then the Cole is then placed on top, pump out the tanks, and the vessel rises with the Cole in support skids to support the transit. To do that, you need something in the neighborhood of about 25 meters of water, so you're going to have to come out of the harbor of Aden to get that water depth so that you can have the Blue Marlin be lowered into the water to do that. And then as soon as she is secure on board and everything has checked, she'll start the transit back to the United States. I'm told by the Navy that still no final decisions have been made as to her destination, whether it would be Norfolk or one of the yards that actually build that class of ship. Q: Is there any patching up of the hull that has to go on before she gets on -- Quigley: I don't believe so. Chris? Q: Will the Cole be able to get out of the harbor under her own power, or will the tug have to -- Quigley: No, she'll be towed. We have a fleet tug, the Catawba, there that has been on station now for several days, will assist in the movement to do that. .... Q: - Pentagon got its act together enough on this - on the whole Cole situation for Pentagon officials to show up at hearings tomorrow on the Cole, like they -- Quigley: Oh, yes, indeed. Q: Well, they didn't last week. Quigley: For -- Q: There was no explanation immediately offered. Quigley: Yeah. For those of you who may not know, there's a hearing scheduled tomorrow on the Hill. At 9:00 in the morning, the Senate Armed Services Committee has its hearing; at 2:00 in the afternoon, the House Armed Services Committee. And both bodies are looking into -- looking for testimony and asking questions on the Cole attack. I am told -- Q: Are those open? Quigley: I am told that both hearings will start open and then move to a closed posture. Q: Who will appear? Quigley: Testifiers will include General Franks, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Walt Slocombe, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Vern Clark, and - and one more. Staff: Wilson. Quigley: Ah, and Vice Admiral Tom Wilson, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Q: Where in the Senate? Is that Hart 215? Quigley: I don't have the room, I'm sorry.