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USS Boxer

USS Boxer
USS Boxer
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class
Debra Daco, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West
USS Boxer Amphibious Ready Group Boxer

In early 2016, the U.S. Navy's amphibious assault ship USS Boxer deployed with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit to participate in naval exercises off the coast of South Korea carrying up to 3,000 sailors and Marines. During the deployment, an unknown amount of diesel fuel was released from the ship into the ocean, and the ship accidentally recaptured the diesel fuel into its onboard, potable water system. Those on the ship quickly reported foul-smelling water typically used for drinking, cooking, and bathing; however, the potable water system remained contaminated for an estimated two months until the USS Boxer ported in Dubai for a mid-deployment voyage repair, where the potable water system was flushed and cleaned of contamination.

Health Effects

At this time, there is no known scientific data to help determine the amount of fuel recaptured into the potable water system or the potential health effects caused by the contaminated water. Some sailors and Marines reported immediate symptoms following exposure to the diesel-contaminated water, such as skin rashes and gastrointestinal issues. Others have reported health issues that developed years later that they believe are related to diesel fuel exposures on the USS Boxer. However, further studies are needed to assess and confirm specific long-term health effects related to exposure to diesel-contaminated water during this incident.

VA and the Department of Defense are actively coordinating on this issue to determine how to best address the needs of Veterans and service members that were potentially impacted. If you served on the USS Boxer in 2016, or if you feel that your health has been impacted by your service, VA encourages you to:

Environmental health coordinators directory.


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