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Navy releases results of investigation into USS Nimitz, Abraham Lincoln water contamination

Posted at 7:57 PM, May 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-15 22:57:56-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – The U.S. Navy announced Monday the conclusion of their investigation into the separate contamination incidents of the USS Nimitz and USS Abraham Lincoln potable water supply last year.

The incidents were reported on Oct. 26 and Nov. 22, 2022.

According to the investigation, the presence of the jet propellant-5 or JP-5 was found aboard the Nimitz in the ship's bilges had entered an unused portable water tank through a deteriorated gasket on the tank sometime between June 2020 and March 2021 during its previous deployment.

On Sept. 16, while operating off the coast of Southern California, sailors aboard the ship reported a fuel-like smell and taste in the ship's potable water, according to the press release. Engineering personnel immediately secured access to the ship's potable water area and began testing the water tanks. Water bottles were made available for the crew during that time.

While the ship was in port at the Naval Air Station North Island Sept. 17-Oct. 2, it was connected to the city of San Diego's water supply. On Oct. 1, testing results indicated that 22 of the 26 portable water tanks had tested below the health action level for JP-5 in drinking water recommended by the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center and deemed safe.

RELATED: UPDATE: Water on USS Nimitz now safe for crew, ship leaves San Diego

On Oct. 28, the Nimitz returned to Bremerton, Wash., and the water tanks were cleaned, repaired, inspected, and returned to service.

There were 11 Nimitz Sailors reported having symptoms that may have resulted from ingesting JP-5. They were treated by medical staff on the ship and cleared to return to duty on Oct. 5, 2022.

While Abraham Lincoln was in port at Naval Air Station North Island from Sept. 17-21, 2022, an investigation into the presence of bacteria in the portable water tank found that bilge water had entered through a hole caused by erosion in the tank's ventilation pipe.

RELATED: Concerns linger over contaminated water on USS Abraham Lincoln

On Sept. 21, at around 1 p.m., the engineering personnel noticed an abnormal taste in the water supplied by the contaminated tank. Per the Navy procedures, they immediately took the tank offline and tested the water inside. The results indicated that the free available chlorine levels (FAC) were within the "specifications," and the tank was placed back in service.

At 7 p.m., the engineering team reported an "abnormal smell and color, in addition to taste, in the ship's water." The engineering officer of the watch ordered that all the online potable water tanks be isolated. The next day, test results concluded that E. coli and coliform bacteria were present in three of the ship's 26 potable water tanks.

Those tanks were secured away from the portable water system, and free water bottles were made available for the crew.

The Navy said the corroded ventilation pipe was repaired; the tanks were deep cleaned and inspected during the ship's in-port maintenance period. All 26 portable water tanks aboard the Abraham Lincoln have been tested and are providing the crew with safe water.

There were no confirmed illnesses related to the ship's water

To read the entire investigation, visit https://www.Cpf.Navy.Mil/FOIA-Reading-Room.