SAN DIEGO — The USS Nimitz remains docked in San Diego while the Navy works to restore the warship's water supply after it was contaminated with jet fuel earlier this month.
Navy officials said samples on Sept. 21 from the ship's potable water supply "yielded detectable traces of hydrocarbons," and the ship will remain pier-side, attached to city of San Diego water until the problem is fixed.
"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," Ensign Bryan N. Blair, a Navy spokesman, said in a statement.
The Navy said the jet fuel, known as jet propellant-5, appeared in the Nimitz’s water supply on Sept. 16 and that bottled water was being provided to the crew.
The Navy has not confirmed reports that some sailors became ill when showering or drinking water that had been permeated with jet fuel.
Blair said testing done on the water on Sept. 19 showed no detectable amounts of fuel but two days later, testing of the warship's water tanks "yielded detectable traces of hydrocarbons."
The federal Department of Health and Human Services says little is known about the effects of ingesting jet fuel. But kerosene, a similar kind of fuel oil, has been reported to cause harm to the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts and the nervous system, including symptoms of difficulty breathing, vomiting and abdominal pain, the department said.
The ship has been connected to the city of San Diego's water supply since Sept. 17 and continues to provide fresh water to the crew that has been tested safe for use, Blair said.
"Purple pipe," on the carrier carries millions of gallons of jet fuel used to keep fueled dozens of aircraft that fly on and off Nimitz's flight deck. The Navy has yet to provide details about how the fuel may have penetrated the ship's water supply.
The Bremerton-based warship’s crew was slated to complete the final training exercise and certification before its global deployment, expected later this year. But the water contamination has delayed that training, known as COMPTUEX, the Navy confirmed.
The deployment is likely one of its last for the 1975-commissioned aircraft carrier, one of 11 in the Navy.
This article originally appeared on Kitsap Sun: USS Nimitz remains in San Diego after jet fuel gets into water supply