FORT DRUM, N.Y. (WWTI) — The Fort Drum military installation went dark Tuesday morning.

Around 4 a.m. on May 9, all of Fort Drum’s commercial power was shut off, which resulted in a major blackout most of the morning, according to a press release from Fort Drum Public Affairs.

Housing areas, Army and Air Force Exchange Service facilities, and some essential services were disconnected for a short duration before power was restored, Public Affairs said. Other areas were required to stay offline for several hours to determine the effectiveness of generation assets.

Fort Drum was on a delayed reporting order due to the blackout.

But this blackout was planned and was part of the Department of Defense exercise called “Black Start.” This exercise is required through the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act.

Fort Drum was the third Army installation to conduct “Black Start” in 2023.

“A Black Start is taking the circuit from zero power and bringing it back online,” said Jonathan Parobeck, Fort Drum Public Works Utilities Branch chief. “We’ve gone through multiple plans and brought all the subject-matter experts to the table to determine how we could meet the intent of this exercise.”

Fort Drum Emergency Manager Rich Hughes said in a press release that it tested the installation’s backup power system, which could help identify gaps in utility supplies.

“This really allows us to identify areas where we can be more resilient in the future where power is concerned,” Hughes explained. “Whether that means generators or redundant power sources, and finding out what needs to be fixed so that we are more prepared if this were to happen for real.”

The Public Works team was then tasked with restoring power, where they had to consider several variables.

“Because we left circuits off for several hours and some of our underground stuff is submerged in water, that could seep in through the insulated wires and cause a circuit to trip,” Parobeck said. “So that is something we look for when bringing power back on.”

However, Parobeck explained that utility technicians treated the outage like a normal workday. The Utilities Branch will now focus on needed upgrades.

“An exercise like this gets the installation thinking about utilities, and it gets the leadership thinking about it,” Parobeck added. “Now it’s a focus, and people have eyes on it, and it leads to this getting fixed or that project getting approved.”

Fort Drum Garrison Commander Colonel James Zacchino explained that this is why the exercise is not complete.

“We have a plan to sit down and review all the collective data from what happened today,” he said. “The lessons learned across the spectrum of different functions will require some time to put together and then a lot of discussions from every perspective. What happens afterward will be the most powerful piece of this exercise.”

Public Affairs issued notices prior to the blackout on May 9. Communications were issued to the public and posted on social media and Fort Drum websites,