US Navy sailors share video evidence after E. coli found in ship's drinking water that 'smells like s**t'
US Navy sailors have reportedly been exposed to a battleship's contaminated water that officials eventually confirmed had the presence of E. coli bacteria.
The USS Abraham Lincoln is a nearly 40-year-old ship that navigates the Pacific Ocean and is part of the United States Navy Pacific Fleet. The vessel was most recently part of the first joint naval exercise in waters between Japan and the Korean peninsula in five years. Video footage recorded by those on board the ship showed gray, murky water spouting out of the ship's drinking fountains and sinks which the Navy later confirmed had E. coli bacteria after three of 26 potable water tanks were contaminated.
One unnamed sailor told Insider the conditions were "horrible," noting that the water would appear black at times in a video posted to YouTube. Another said the water tasted like fuel when he drank it and smelled "like s***." Navy officials tested the water and found bacteria in it on September 22. However, they didn't realize what was causing the stench until a month later. In a statement to the Daily Mail, the Navy said that on October 21, they found the water supply was polluted by wastewater collected within the ship's bowels.
Officials explained that the waste entered the water tanks through a hole in the tank's air vent line, which also caused the gray coloration. One sailor told Insider that the polluted water was "inescapable" and that his fellow seamen complained of stomach issues after drinking but were instructed to get back to work. Some men on board even reported rashes after consuming and potentially washing in the water. The Navy initially denied that sailors experienced health issues. However, after they complained to a commanding officer, he acknowledged the presence of bacteria in the waters but couldn't say for certain whether it was a bad thing. No one on board was ever told not to drink it.
The Navy has claimed it provided bottled water to the crew, but sailors have said it was hard to find. Regardless, it was a major problem. "Even if we opted out of not drinking water for a few days, you still can't escape it because we still have to shower, we still were eating the food … they cook everything with water," one sailor said.
Another sailor said they started to go haywire. "I felt like we were going crazy because [the commanding officer] was sitting here telling us that there's nothing in it, but we're sitting here drinking it and smelling it and it just smells horrible," they said on condition of anonymity. The midshipman also criticized the Navy as a whole. "It's always the mission in their mind," he said. "That's what they say all the time. It's always the mission that comes first to them, even if it's putting other lives at risk."
According to the seamen, the foul smell of the water from the waste apparently still lingers inside the ship, which is reportedly slated to host a college basketball game between Gonzaga and Michigan State on November 11. The game is expected to be televised in primetime on ESPN.