Skip to content

PP3 9V battery explosion

A member has reported an incident in which a PP3 9-volt battery exploded. A loud bang was heard on the vessel bridge. Initially the noise was believed to be a lightbulb failing, but no trace could be found other than some debris embedded in a partition wall and a fragment which landed on a surveyor.s shoulder.

After conducting a thorough search, a PP3 type 9-volt battery was discovered wrapped in a piece of paper with the terminals taped over ready for disposal. The bottom was blown off the battery housing exposing the individual ‘AAAA’ batteries inside. Fortunately, there were no injuries.

The following causal factors were identified:

  • The battery was used beyond its recommended expiry date (see 3rd image);
  • As a result of this over-use, one or more internal cells had leaked causing an internal short circuit;
  • The battery overheated causing catastrophic failure.

Our member took the following actions:

  • Vessel checked for similar brand or make of battery – two such batteries were found in packaging, both expired. These were disposed of safely;
  • Further checks were made of all other batteries currently in use or in stock to ensure expiry dates were not exceeded;
  • Safety flash was issued to company globally and IMCA.

Whilst this incident involved a disposable alkaline battery, members will note that there have been explosions reported which have been caused by failure or malfunction of:

All batteries involve dense storage of large amounts of energy, and as such, contain inherent hazards. members may wish to reiterate the importance of good battery management for all forms of batteries, whatever battery chemistry may be involved. This should particularly be the case for rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries.

Safety Event

Published: 3 October 2016
Download: IMCA SF 25/16

IMCA Safety Flashes
Submit a Report

IMCA Safety Flashes summarise key safety matters and incidents, allowing lessons to be more easily learnt for the benefit of all. The effectiveness of the IMCA Safety Flash system depends on Members sharing information and so avoiding repeat incidents. Please consider adding [email protected] to your internal distribution list for safety alerts or manually submitting information on incidents you consider may be relevant. All information is anonymised or sanitised, as appropriate.

IMCA’s store terms and conditions ( apply to all downloads from IMCA’s website, including this document.

IMCA makes every effort to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the documents it publishes, but IMCA shall not be liable for any guidance and/or recommendation and/or statement herein contained. The information contained in this document does not fulfil or replace any individual’s or Member's legal, regulatory or other duties or obligations in respect of their operations. Individuals and Members remain solely responsible for the safe, lawful and proper conduct of their operations.