The USS Cole
, battered by an apparent suicide bombing in Yemen, will arrive in Mississippi next week for extensive repairs, a top U.S. Navy source said on Tuesday.
A small boat filled with explosives blew up alongside the USS Cole on Oct. 12 in the port of Aden, gouging a gaping hole in its side and killing 17 U.S. sailors.
Saudi-exile Osama bin Laden, who has been accused of masterminding the 1998 bombing of two U.S. embassies in East Africa
, is considered a prime suspect behind the planning of the Cole attack, according to U.S. officials. But a definitive link has not yet been established, they say.
The Cole left Yemen early last month and was currently in the Atlantic being transported on a Norwegian heavy-lift vessel the "Blue Marlin."
"I expect them into Pascagoula next week," the official reportedly said, adding that he did not know the exact day it would arrive.
The Cole will be repaired at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi, which builds the sophisticated Arleigh Burke Class warships.
Experts estimate the year-long repairs, which will begin in January, will cost more than $100 million.
The U.S. Navy has nearly completed its investigation of actions taken aboard the Cole around the time of the attack, the official said, but would not comment on it just yet.