Nimitz returns to Bremerton after key training exercise

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BREMERTON – The USS Nimitz returned to Bremerton on Friday evening after more than six weeks of crew work final pre-deployment training.

“After a very busy year, we have achieved our goal – to prepare this aircraft carrier for deployment and to sail west,” Capt. Craig Sicola, commanding officer of the Nimitz, said in a press release. “I can assure you that this ship and her crew are ready for whatever lies ahead.”

Along the way, the carrier was sidelined for about two of those weeks in San Diego when jet fuel entered the warship’s drinking water supply. At least 11 sailors were suspected of being sickened by the fuel, the Navy reported. The Navy eventually flushed the ship’s water systems with one million gallons of fresh water.

The Nimitz and her ship strike group comprising destroyers and cruisers, to accompany dozens of aircraft aboard the warship, spent a critical exercise known as COMPTUEX, or Composite Training Unit Exercise, at sea this month. The ship is now ready to deploy, likely later this year.

Water contamination added to the adversity for the crew. The Navy hired a California lab to test and ensure the water supply was safe. The sailors’ symptoms included headaches, diarrhea and rashes. All were treated and cleared for duty.

The ship, commissioned in 1975, is nearing its final deployment. The Navy is expected to decommission Nimitz in 2025, though leaders have discussed extending her life.

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Richard V. Johnson