US Navy discovers source of aircraft carrier’s tainted water
The foul smell and discoloration that sailors on the USS Abraham Lincoln began noticing last month in their drinking water was caused by a wastewater leak, the US Navy has determined, raising concerns that service members were exposed to sewage or other harmful contaminants.
“The inspection concluded that bilge water entered one of the potable water tanks through a hole that was found in the tank’s air vent line, causing the cloudy appearance and odor in the ship’s potable water,” the Navy’s Pacific Fleet public affairs office said in a statement.
Crew members first reported concerns about the ship’s water on September 21, while the USS Abraham Lincoln was operating off the coast of Southern California.
Videos posted on social media by sailors aboard the ship showed water bottles filled with cloudy liquid and dark particles floating inside.
Tests concluded the next day that E. coli bacteria was present in three of the carrier’s 26 potable water tanks. The affected tanks have been isolated from the ship’s potable water system and won’t be put back in service until a deep cleaning is done during the vessel’s ongoing maintenance period.
There have been no confirmed cases of illness related to the ship’s water, the Navy said, but as Military.com noted, the reported source of the problem raised concerns about the toxins to which crew members may have been exposed. The outlet cited US Environmental Protection Agency data showing that bilge water can contain fuels, lubricants, hydraulic fluid, dangerous metals, antifreeze, solvents and cleaning chemicals.
The incident is just the latest episode of tainted water on a US aircraft carrier. A whistleblower claimed earlier this month that his superiors on the USS Nimitz lied to crew members about the severity of a fuel leak into their drinking water and denied them medical treatment when they were sickened by the contamination.
Four families near Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor sued the Navy in August for leaks of jet fuel into their water supplies, claiming that officials initially denied their concerns. As in the USS Nimitz allegations, the plaintiffs claimed that they were refused proper medical care. On Tuesday, the military began the process of closing the antiquated Pearl Harbor storage facility that leaked fuel into water supplies used by about 93,000 people in the area.