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On September 16, 2022, while aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) was operating off the coast of Southern California, Sailors aboard the ship reported a fuel-like smell and taste in the ship’s potable water. The crew immediately took action to secure access to the ship's potable water, commence testing of their potable water tanks, and provide free bottled water to the crew.
While in port at Naval Air Station North Island Sept. 17-Oct. 2, Nimitz was connected to San Diego water supply. Also during this time, the ship thoroughly flushed its potable water system and Orange Coast Analytical, Inc., a laboratory certified by the state of California’s Department of Health, has tested the water in the ship’s potable water system multiple times since Sept. 21.
On Oct. 1, test results indicated that 22 of 26 potable water tanks tested below the parameter for fuel hydrocarbons in drinking water developed by the Hawaii Department of Health (less than 0.266 parts per million); the other four tanks were isolated from the potable water system. The potable water aboard the ship is safe for the crew and a thorough root-cause analysis is currently being conducted.
Since the fuel was first detected in the water, 11 Nimitz Sailors reported symptoms that may possibly be attributed to JP-5 ingestion. These symptoms include headache, rash, and diarrhea. No Sailors have reported symptoms potentially related to contaminants in the water since Sept. 30. All 11 Sailors have received treatment, all symptoms have resolved, and those Sailors have been cleared for duty. Nimitz medical department continues to closely monitor their Sailors for any potential symptoms and the leaders aboard the ship continue to encourage Sailors who experience any symptoms to be evaluated by the ship’s medical staff. The health and wellbeing of all of our Sailors is a top priority.
USS Nimitz (CVN 68) departed Naval Station North Island Oct. 2 to rejoin the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group for its regularly scheduled Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.