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USS Nimitz leaves San Diego port after jet fuel contaminates water

The ship got underway on Sunday after all tests of the potable water systems aboard the Nimitz came back within limits, a spokesperson for the Navy said.
Credit: AP

SAN DIEGO — The USS Nimitz left the pier at Naval Station North in San Diego Sunday morning after weeks of flushing its water system to clean it after it was contaminated with jet fuel, the Navy confirmed.

The ship got underway on Sunday after all tests of the potable water systems aboard the Nimitz came back within limits.

“The health, safety, and wellbeing of Nimitz Sailors remains our top priority. I want to thank all base, local, and federal health and environmental agencies who have worked to ensure we met and exceeded all testing, regulations, and purity standards in order to safely return this warship to sea," said Rear Adm. Christopher Sweeney, Commander of Carrier Strike Group 11.

"I also want to acknowledge the Sailors and leaders on board Nimitz who worked tirelessly and took the necessary action to keep the crew safe,” said Sweeney.

According to the Navy, the jet fuel detected in one of the ship's 26 water tanks was identified as jet propellant-5 (JP-5).

A total of 11 sailors have reported symptoms associated with JP-5 ingestion, but according to the Navy none have reported feeling symptoms in the last 24 hours.

The symptoms experienced by the Sailors ranged from headaches, rashes to diarrhea. 

Those sailors were evaluated, received treatment and have been cleared for duty, according to the Navy.

Sailors have been encouraged to let the Nimitz’s medical department know of any symptoms they may be experiencing. 

On Friday, the Navy said the ship had been receiving fresh water from the City of San Diego’s water supply since Sep. 17. Free bottled water is also available for the ship’s crew.

The Nimitz, an aircraft carrier based in Bremerton, Washington began flushing its water system on Sep. 17. The Navy said it will continue to flush and test it’s system until it is determined safe for the ship’s Sailors.

In addition to targeted flushing of water tanks to clean the ship’s water system, the Navy said a “sniffer” team has been created to identify areas of the ship with the odor of jet fuel. 

All galleys on the Nimitz were found to have very low or no odor, Robertson said.

“If we receive any additional reports of potentially contaminated water, we will immediately investigate and take appropriate action to safeguard the crew,” Robertson said.

WATCH RELATED: Active-duty sailors aboard the U.S.S. Nimitz reflect on Memorial Day (May 2022).


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