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thedrifter
08-19-05, 11:02 AM
August 19, 2005
Rocket barely misses Ashland,
Kearsarge in Jordanian port
By William H. McMichael
Times staff writer

A rocket fired by an unknown assailant in Jordan Friday morning flew over the bow of a Norfolk-based ship docked in Aqaba and punctured a warehouse on a nearby pier, officials said.

The mortar rocket, one of at least three fired from what Jordanian officials said was a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of town, missed the dock landing ship Ashland as well as the nearby amphibious assault ship Kearsarge, said Lt. Cmdr. Charles Brown, a spokesman for the U.S. 5th Fleet in Bahrain.

The rocket, which missed the Ashland at about 8:44 a.m. local time, blew an 8-foot hole in the warehouse roof, which was in the vicinity of both ships. No sailors or Marines were injured and neither ship sustained any damage, Brown said.

The two ships, which were in port supporting the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit during a joint training exercise with Jordanian forces, started making preparations to get underway “immediately afterward,” Brown said. Both ships are now at sea, he said.

Brown wouldn’t comment on the status of the Marines who’d been training in Jordan. “We don’t discuss the specific location of forces,” Brown said. The Marine Corps news desk at the Pentagon deferred questions to Marine spokesmen aboard the Kearsarge, command ship for the expeditionary strike group; they could not be immediately reached.

The Ashland is based at Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base, the Kearsarge at Norfolk Naval Station. The ESG also includes the cruiser Normandy, the destroyer Gonzalez, the frigate Kauffman, the amphibious transport ship Ponce and the attack submarine Scranton. The ESG got underway March 25; the other ships are operating elsewhere in the region.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attacks, but Islamic extremists have long criticized Jordan’s U.S.-allied moderate government for its peace treaty with Israel and close ties with the West.

The Jordanians are performing the investigation into the rocket attacks, Brown said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

William H. McMichael is the Hampton Roads bureau chief for Navy Times. Reach him at (757) 223-0096.

Ellie