Commander of USS Cole during attack fails to make captain
Stars and Stripes August 23, 2006
ARLINGTON, Va. — The USS Cole’s skipper during the October 2000 terrorist attack that killed 17 sailors has failed to make captain, Navy spokesman Cmdr. David Werner said.
Cmdr. Kirk Lippold, who now works in the Pentagon, was selected for captain in fiscal 2003 but never confirmed by the Senate, a Navy official said.
Last week, Navy Secretary Donald Winter had decided to remove Lippold’s name from the fiscal 2003 promotion list because he was not qualified to become captain, Werner said in a Thursday e-mail to Stars and Stripes.
“Secretary Winter determined that Cmdr. Lippold’s actions as the Commanding Officer of USS Cole prior to the attack on 12 October 2000 did not meet the high standard he expects of Commanding Officers,” Werner said.
Lippold still will be eligible for promotion next fiscal year, but Winter’s decision is part of his service record, the Navy official said.
Lippold has told the Navy he will decline to comment on the matter until his attorneys have been able to review the decision, the official said.
Command Master Chief James Parlier, who was on the Cole during the attack, said he was saddened to hear the news that Lippold had not made captain.
“I don’t really see how the captain could be held completely responsible when we went in with the force protection we were directed at,” said Parlier, who is now at Naval Station Great Lakes.
The captain and crew of the USS Cole were unaware of intelligence on the danger to their ship when they pulled into Yemen, Parlier said.
“During the Indianapolis, during WWII that captain was also somewhat set up to fail with his mission and his intelligence. That’s why he got hit by that submarine,” Parlier said.
Many believe the captain of the USS Indianapolis was made a scapegoat after a Japanese submarine sank his ship in 1945.
Parlier said he does not think that the matter is over for Lippold.
“I think he will strive to get what he deserves and the crew will back him up,” Parlier said.