updated 6/8/2006 11:08:14 AM ET 2006-06-08T15:08:14

The USS Cole left port Thursday for its first Middle East deployment since a 2000 terrorist attack blew a hole in its side and killed 17 sailors.

The Cole, along with five other ships and a submarine, left the East Coast to conduct security operations in support of the war on terrorism.

The destroyer had been refueling in Yemen’s port of Aden on Oct. 12, 2000, when al-Qaida-linked militants in a dinghy packed with explosives attacked. The explosion blew a hole in the side, but the ship remained above water and eventually underwent $250 million of repairs.

No sailors from the 2000 crew are still aboard the Cole. The crew of 320 that left Thursday is expected to be gone for six months, officials said.

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