During our Med cruise on the USS Caron (DD 970) in 1985/86. We were moored in Naples, to the quay wall. The procedure to moor to the quay wall was called "Med Mooring". That meant we were backed up to the quay wall, with 5 mooring lines from the stern of the ship to the quay wall. There was no shore power available in this area, so we had to remain on ship's electrical power. We were running one gas turbine generator with another in stand by. Two thirds of the crew was on liberty and the duty section was aboard. I was not on duty but Naples was not my favorite liberty port, so the Chief Hull Technician, Dave Kelly, and I were running on the flight deck, trying to stay in shape. It was about 6:30 pm (1830). Dave suddenly spotted is Division Officer, the Damage Control Assistant (DCA) toting a P-250 pump out onto the fantail. The DCA and a couple of sailors were attempting to start the pump. Dave chuckled at their efforts while wondering what they were doing, starting a P-250. Then, another pump appeared on the fantail, carried by two other sailors. Dave's curiosity was peaked and he headed for the fantail. I kept running on the flight deck. Pretty soon, Dave was jumping up and down on the fantail and waving his arms while calling out my name. I ran down to the fantail and Dave told me the ship was hot, dark, and quiet. We had dropped the electrical load and the stand by generator failed to start. I make a quick trip to CCS to find out exactly what happened and what the status was. I do not remember who the Duty Engineer was, but I quickly deduced that we did not have any monitoring for fire or flooding in any space, no fire main pressure, and we needed to go back to the old way of monitoring spaces for safety, roving sounding and security watches, all over the ship! The Duty Engineer and Command Duty Officer, took my recommendations to set up Repair 5 as DC Central and run the roving patrols from there. I assumed the Repair Locker Leader position and organized the teams. We immediately began checking all the spaces below the water line every thirty minutes and posting the status on the DC Charts in Repair Five. This all went smooth and Dave and the DCA did a miraculous job restoring fire main pressure for the ship by hooking up four P-250 pumps to the fire main jumper stations. While this gave up fire main pressure, if we would have had to fight a fire, we still would have been in trouble because the P-250 pumps did not provide the volume of water that the normal electric fire pumps did. Just the same, it was great!
Then, about 2030 or so, we faced another problem, the crew members were beginning to return from liberty, some under the influence of adult beverages, and the ship was totally dark! This was a perfect formula for tragedy. But, what to do with the crew? Where do we put them? A few minutes with the Chief Master at Arms, who's name escapes me, and the CDO and we came to the solution of sequestering the crew on the mess decks. Not the best place, but all what we had. The Chief Cook, Al Williams even wrestled up some snakes for the crew. He was always someone we could depend on.
Some of you may be asking at this point, why were we still hot, dark, and quiet? We went Hot, Dark, and quiet because one energetic, young, inexperienced, Fireman was chipping rust off of the bracket that held the Uninterrupted Power Supply batteries for the Gas Turbine Generator that was on line. He struck the battery post, grounding it to the bracket it was mounted to, and shutting down the generator. The stand-by generator was all lined up to start and it tried. But, somebody removed the Air Start valve without authorization, for maintenance. The start circuit operated and blew all of the compressed air in the flasks out into the space. Hence forth, we could not start ANY generator! We even tried to align the four small flasks I had in the two gun mounts, not enough volume. So, we were without electrical power until the port services folks could get us a generator barge, in the morning, after working hours had started.
So, there we were, no electrical power, doing Damage Control like they did in World War Two, with some inebriated sailors sequestered on the mess decks, and a Mac Guiver fire main system set up on the two boat decks! The end product was, the ship was safe, no one got hurt, and we restored power before noon. No harm no foul.. Except, the embarrassment of ending up in that situation because the Duty Engineer did not have control of the situation! In his defense, things happen! People want to do the right thing, and in their eagerness, they make mistakes. These mistakes are not malicious, they are just things that well meaning people do when they try to do more than they should. Both of these causes to this catastrophic failure can be related to this syndrome.
There were no medals of letters on commendation issued for this event. Too much embarrassment for the command, but everyone involved knew we did a good job.