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ARLINGTON, Va. — The captain of the USS Cole at the time of the October 2000 terrorist attack retired from the service on Thursday after being passed over for a promotion.

Cmdr. Kirk S. Lippold said he chose to move on after the Navy secretary removed his name from a promotion list last year. The 26-year Navy veteran had been selected for captain in 2003 but was never confirmed by the Senate.

Navy officials said last August Lippold’s leadership prior to the 2000 attack, which killed 17 sailors, was below expectations, prompting his removal from the promotion list.

On Thursday Lippold defended his actions prior to the attack.

“I would say that given the training, tools, intelligence and support that I had been given by my chain of command that I took every reasonable measure to prevent my ship from being attacked,” he said.

“And I think we’ve learned how difficult it is to stop suicide bombers when even today we are unable to stop them anywhere around the world.”

He said he was not bitter or angry about leaving the Navy, but he did feel “just a touch of disappointment.”

“Serving my navy and my nation has been one of the most fulfilling careers that one could have the privilege to have,” Lippold said.

He also praised his crew for their actions following the terrorist attack for taking the actions to save their ship and shipmates.


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