- The US Navy discovered last month that water from an aircraft carrier had a “smelling and cloudy appearance”.
- The service said early last week it didn’t know why the water looked and smelled strange.
- An inspection has since concluded that sewage has entered the system.
A month after sailors from the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln first noticed their water looked and smelled strange, the service finally determined it was polluted with sewage that seeped into the water supply.
Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and USS Abraham Lincoln personnel inspected the potable water tanks and determined Oct. 20 that “bilge water entered one of the potable water tanks through a hole found in tank vent pipe causing cloudy appearance and odor in vessel’s drinking water,” the Navy said in a recent statement.
According to Environmental Protection Agency, bilge water is a liquid that drains from the interior areas or upper decks of a ship and collects in the lowest part of its body. Although the physical makeup of a ship’s bilge water can vary, it is considered sewage and can include everything from draining sinks to fuel to chemicals to even sewage.
Sailors on the Lincoln initially noticed a “cloudy odor and appearance” in the ship’s drinking and bathing water on September 21, and tests the following day revealed E. coli bacteria to be present. present in some of the ship’s potable water tanks, the Navy said in an Oct. 13 statement.
The Navy said at the time that the presence of the E. coli bacteria was in fact unrelated to reports of “smell and cloudiness,” which the service said disappeared on 22 september.
A Navy official told Insider on Oct. 18, nearly a month after the issue was first reported, that it was still “not yet known.” what was wrong with the water that caused the unusual odor and appearance.
“However, the three tanks that contained water with E. coli also contained water with the odor and cloudiness. These tanks were immediately isolated and secured from the potable water system,” the Naval said. Air Forces Cmdr. Zach Harrell told Insider last week.
With the Navy having concluded its investigation, it now agrees that sewage was responsible for the strange appearance and smell of water on the USS Abraham Lincoln.
The Lincoln is the second aircraft carrier to face water contamination issues in recent weeks.
In September, just days before problems were discovered on the Lincoln, the Navy said it had found what it said was “tracks” of jet fuel in the water aboard the USS Nimitz. A sailor aboard the ship — and their parents — told Insider the problem was worse than what the Navy initially disclosed to the public.
Nor was the contaminated water isolated solely from the Nimitz and the Lincoln. Navy and Marine Corps veterans tell Insider that sailors on Navy flattops, aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships have been drinking and bathing in water contaminated with jet fuel since decades.