Military Traditions

July 22, 2021 By Bruce Bartels

Save Water — Take a “Navy Shower”

For those unfamiliar with the term “Navy shower,” I’ll explain. Navy ships at sea have a water problem. I know, they’re floating on a sea of water, but it’s salt water. It can’t be used for most things aboard ship (although they do use it to flush the toilets). For drinking, cooking, and bathing, you need fresh water. In the old days, most Navy ships used steam turbine propulsion, so they needed fresh water to make steam. To do that, they had on-board evaporators that changed sea water to fresh water. These same evaporators also provided water for drinking, bathing, and cooking. Today, many newer Navy ships use gas turbine propulsion (sort of like jet engines), so they don’t need water for their steam turbines. They still need it for the other stuff I mentioned. So, sea water is still turned into fresh water for use by the crew. Fresh water has always been at a premium aboard ship. Many ships have “water hours” — certain times during the day when water can be used. Thus, the Navy shower was developed to save water.

Here’s how it works. You get into the shower and turn on the water to wet yourself down. Then you turn the water off — total time 15–20 seconds. Next, you apply soap to your wet body. Then you turn the water back on and rinse off — total time 20–30 seconds. Step out of the shower and feel very proud that you have only used about one minute total of water.

We have a drought in California. Not unlike the Navy ship at sea, water is at a premium. While I won’t personally be checking on every resident, if we all took Navy showers at PVE, think of the water we would save.


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