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USS Cole Returns To Fort Lauderdale For Fleet Week On The 20th Anniversary Of Its Commissioning In Port Everglades

Missile destroyer USS Cole has returned to her South Florida home.

"That's what it feels like when we come here," Commanding Officer (CO) David Wroe said. 

Sure, the USS Cole's official home port might be Norfolk, Virginia, but returning to Port Everglades, where the historic ship was commissioned, is something extra special, suggested Wroe, who took over the rank of CO last week. 

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Docked at Terminal 21 this week, the Navy vessel is now celebrating the 20th anniversary of its commissioning in Fort Lauderdale, and it's one of the ships (plus a nuclear submarine!) open for tours while 2,000 service men and women are in town for Fleet Week

"It's a very special moment for us coming back here because it marks 20 years since the initial commissioning of the ship from 1996," said Navy Sonar Technician Mark Spinney. "...It was commissioned here, so every time we come back to Fort Lauderdale especially, we feel like it's a very special homecoming for us."

Known for being the target of a terrorist attack in 2000 that killed 17 sailors while at port in Yemen, the USS Cole and its storied past have attracted a lot of interest from tourgoers, according to Spinney, who is giving Fleet Week tours. Civilians visiting the Cole can learn about the ship's defensive capabilities—it's equipped with torpedoes, harpoon missiles, machine guns and more—and see some of the weaponry firsthand.

The USS Cole is also the adopted ship of Broward Navy Days, the organization that plans Fleet Week.

We took a tour of the USS Cole ourselves. Here are some photos of what we saw onboard:

(Photos by Lyssa Goldberg)