Navy officials said Tuesday that tests of the aircraft carrier Nimitz’s potable water system are still showing traces of jet fuel, despite indications last week that the system was flushed and restored.
The investigation into how jet fuel is getting into Nimitz’s water system continues, and when the ship’s emergency detour to San Diego’s Naval Air Station North Island will end remains unclear.
Jet fuel was first found in the 47-year-old carrier’s water system on Sept. 16 while it was conducting a pre-deployment cruise in the Pacific Ocean.
On Sept. 21, Nimitz spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Adam Demeter said in a statement that potable water was restored to the ship on Sept. 19, three days after the discovery.
“After properly flushing the potable water system and thoroughly testing the water for any traces of (jet fuel), potable water was fully restored aboard Nimitz on September 19, 2022,” he said.
Left unmentioned in Demeter’s statement was that Nimitz has been hooked up to the San Diego municipal water supply since Sept. 17, after the ship arrived at NAS North Island.
That San Diego water is not traveling through the ship’s potable water system and remains untainted and safe, according to officials.
Naval Air Forces spokesman Ensign Bryan Blair confirmed Tuesday that traces of jet fuel were found in the ship’s potable water tanks on Sept. 21, the same day Demeter issued a statement suggesting the system was good to go.
Prior testing for jet fuel on Sept. 19 had involved the ship’s wastewater system, Blair said.
Blair said the ship continues to get its water from San Diego, providing “fresh water to the crew that has been tested safe for use.”
“There have been no confirmed cases of illness related to contaminated water aboard the ship,” he said.
“The health and wellbeing of our Sailors is a top priority, and the internal potable water system remains offline until we are certain it can produce the highest quality water for the crew,” he said.
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.