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Sailors reportedly drank jet fuel-contaminated water on USS Nimitz; showered in it

The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) steams forward in the Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Elliot Schaudt)
September 21, 2022

The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz’s drinking water was contaminated with jet-fuel on Friday and several sailors reportedly drank and showered in it before the contaminated water was pumped out.

TerminalCWO — a popular social media handle that shares military whistleblower claims, leaks and complaints — was the first to publish accounts of the aircraft carrier’s water contamination on Monday. The contamination was discovered while the ship was operating off the coast of California.

Lt. Cmdr. Adam Demeter, a spokesperson for the aircraft carrier, confirmed in a statement to American Military News that the ship’s water supply was indeed contaminated with jet fuel.

“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,” Demeter 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.”

While the ship’s officials said the water contamination was dealt with “immediately,” some anonymous sources are claiming several hours transpired before the ship’s crew was notified of the contamination, and several sailors either ingested or showered in the contaminated water.

According to TerminalCWO, unnamed sources said numerous sailors are sick due to ingesting and bathing in the fuel-contaminated water. The whistleblower account also shared claims of multiple sailors developing rashes as a result of the contaminated water.

“This is water from the Nimitz after letting sit in a bottle,” TerminalCWO tweeted.

Navy Cmdr. Zachary Harrell, a spokesman for Naval Air Force, Pacific, said the ship’s leaders are not aware of any sailors who drank or showered in the contaminated water.

“We can confirm that we’ve had no confirmed cases of illnesses on board that were related to this issue,” Harrell said.

TerminalCWO also reported that six hours had passed between when the contamination was first discovered and when the ship’s crew was fully notified.

“As soon as leadership was made aware of the contamination in the potable water system, action was taken to secure access to the potable water. After the potable water system was secured, the Commanding Officer made an announcement on the ship’s PA system to inform the crew on the status of the potable water supply,” Harrell said. “Understandably, there have been some complaints about the water from the crew, but there have been no confirmed cases of illness related to contaminated water aboard the ship. The Nimitz medical department continues to monitor our Sailors for any potential symptoms. The water onboard the ship is safe for use and the health and wellbeing of all of our Sailors is a top priority.”

Construction on the USS Nimitz began in 1968 and it entered service after its commissioning ceremony on May 3, 1975. The Nimitz is currently the oldest aircraft carrier still in service. According to the Navy’s current plans, the service will decommission the Nimitz in the 2025 fiscal year.

Last year, the Navy discovered another leak at the Red Hill jet-fuel storage facility on Joint Base Pearl Harbor–Hickam, Hawaii. The leak contaminated the water supply for residents on the base for months. The fuel storage facility was originally built in the 1940s.