Harold Lucas, ETN2
THE BIG FIRE ON THE USS SAVAGE DER-386
"Dates don’t come easy after 44 years, but I know it was probably spring of 1963. We were on our way to station in the north Pacific, probably 3 days out of Pearl Harbor. We were in the mess deck that night settling in to watch The Hustler with Paul Newman. It wasn’t too long, when some of us smelled smoke. We thought it was a butt kit. Soon, we could see smoke coming out of the galley and it was getting very thick. By the time we could get out of our seats and on our way out of the back of the mess deck, the smoke was so thick, we had to crawl out on our hands and knees to be able to breathe.
General Quarters was called and we all took off for our duty stations. Being an ET, I headed for the ET shop which was by the corpsman and the barber. After a few minutes we heard… ”Stand by for heavy explosions a midship.” The group I was with took off for the fantail. It was then we could see that the fire was coming from the muffler housings around the stack. The damage control crew did a great job and put the fire out. I found out later that the reason for the “heavy explosion” warning was that the hose leading to the oxygen and acetylene tanks, which were stored around the stack, were on fire. Luckily, they caught them in time.
As I remember it our captain at the time was Stensrud. I remember, after we turned around and headed back to Pearl Harbor, he had the deck hands paint over the charred area around the stack, so that when we arrived back at Bravo docks, our ship would look good.
After that episode, I remember that they tried two more times to show The Hustler on our ship. Both times we had fires again. First in an electrical panel in the engine room and second a camel next to the ship caught on fire from a cigarette while in port. I don’t know if its true, but we heard that The Hustler was banned from the ship after that. I know I would get nervous, even now, watching that movie."
Hal Lucas ETN2 3/62 to 3/64
[Most graciously donated by Hal Lucas. Thanks for sharing your memories with us.]