In August 2016, the Naval Safety Center found “these devices pose a significant and unacceptable risk to Navy personnel, facilities, submarines, ships, vessels and aircraft,” according to a memo published in Navy Times.
One major problem appears to be the lithium-ion batteries in vapes, which have exploded on multiple occasions. A total of 15 “mishaps” took place between October 2015 and June 2016, according to Navy records, “resulting in Department of the Navy personnel injuries or fires/material damage.”
On two occasions, vape malfunctioning caused fires on ships that required the use of extinguishers and other firefighting equipment, according to the Navy. What’s more, the use could disrupt the force’s ability to conduct missions. “One instance required a naval aircraft to return to base due to e-cig batteries creating smoke in the cargo section of the aircraft,” according to the Naval Safety Center.
The causes of e-cig technical difficulties were numerous and wide ranging: “not all USB chargers are created equal,” the Navy said. Other sources of failure included poor vape construction, user error and improper battery storage. The Navy points out a bit of wisdom that may be useful, if unsurprising, to civilian e-smokers: “the cheaper the device normally equates to less engineered product safety.”
“Multiple” sailors sustained burns and “facial disfigurement” as a result of vapes blowing up, the Navy said in a statement to The Hill.
The Navy banned smoking cigarettes on submarines in 2010, but it is allowed in designated areas on other surface ships.