Sailors could’t use the potable water system aboard aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) for three days after jet fuel contaminated the fresh water tanks last week, a Navy official told USNI News on Wednesday.
After discovering JP5 in the water while the carrier was at sea on Sept. 16, the potable water became safe to use again on Sept. 19 after flushing the system, Cmdr. Zach Harrell, a spokesman for Naval Air Forces, told USNI News.
“On September 16, 2022, aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) identified traces of jet propellant-5 (JP-5), used to fuel carrier-based aircraft, in the ship’s potable water supply while operating off the coast of southern California,” he said.
“The crew immediately took action to secure access to the ship’s potable water and provide bottled water to the crew. After conducting a thorough flush and inspection of its potable water system, fresh water has been restored to the ship. The water onboard the ship is safe for use and the health and wellbeing of all of our sailors is a top priority.”
A Navy official told USNI News on Wednesday that the JP5 entered the potable water system due to a procedural “line up” issue, rather than a fuel leak or a tank failure, that accidentally pumped the fuel into the fresh water system.
Social media posts on Instagram and Reddit claimed that several sailors became sick from drinking the contaminated water and suffered rashes from showers. Harrell said the Navy had no instances of confirmed sickness for sailors aboard the carrier.
Nimitz is in the midst of its Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX), the workups that carriers do ahead of a deployment. The Bremerton, Wash.,-based carrier recently went through a maintenance period at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility.