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Fire on dive boat Conception in CA

Discussion in 'Accidents & Incidents' started by divezonescuba, Sep 2, 2019.

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  1. Kelp Boy

    Kelp Boy Registered

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Eastern Oregon
    7
    13
    What can we do, TODAY, to make our diving safer, or at least less stressful?

    First: How about we treat the emergency exit bunks much like airlines treat the emergency exit rows? Perhaps dive organizers can recruit volunteers willing to sleep in these bunks knowing ahead of time that this individual is mature, unlikely to panic, capable of opening the exit, and likely to assist in an evacuation where appropriate. I doubt boat operators are going to permit half a dozen divers from each trip to test the emergency escape hatch. They were not designed for that amount of use. But boat operators might be willing to provide additional instruction to a small number of individuals.

    Second: A smoke and carbon monoxide warning system that is not owned, inspected, or maintained by the boat operator. How about dive organizers purchase a quality smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector; test them before each charter; bring them on all charters; demonstrate them for your customers; and install them in the sleeping area the first evening? I would feel a lot better knowing that the detection system (or at least part of it) is being maintained by someone who got more than 4 hours sleep last night. Maybe you save lives. Maybe you just make me feel better. Please obtain the boat operator’s permission. And please ask a lawyer if this might increase your legal exposure.

    After this much discussion, I am sure there are other inexpensive ideas, acceptable to both operator and organizer, that can be implemented on short notice. Let’s take the lead in making this sport even safer, without waiting 12 to 18 months for the NTSB report!
     
  2. cerich

    cerich ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Georgia
    6,877
    3,971
    meh, the folks fighting the fires with AFFF aren't united that any of the substitutes are actually as effective, and most of then are as bad for the environment and users as AFFF. Getting there, but for now AFFF is still an excellent product for certain fires.

    Even here in Georgia, not exactly known as bleeding edge for environmental stuff, as of 1 Jan 2020 it can only be used on real emergencies and not in training.

    Don't get me wrong, a better alternative would rock, but I could give two craps about the groundwater in the immediate area if there are humans that could be saved, I am NOT saying that in context of the Conception fire.

    Once you have done all you can to save people and that stage is over, do everything you can to clean up and manage any environmental damage, and there is ALWAYS some.
     
    chillyinCanada and Texas Torpedo like this.
  3. Akimbo

    Akimbo Just a diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    10,907
    9,320
    In my experience, very few divers have been taught even the most basic marine safety skills required for far more common accidents than this. This thread might be helpful: Diving and Seamanship
     
    eleniel, Jay, chillyinCanada and 4 others like this.
  4. Altamira

    Altamira ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: TX
    1,971
    2,018
    Oh, now I see. It is the system--so it must be right and just!
     
    pauldw likes this.
  5. cerich

    cerich ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Georgia
    6,877
    3,971
    the ship is grandfathered and also the current inspector knows that it passed a few decades of inspections just like that. There is nothing about that that surprises me at all.
     
    Boiler_81 and Luis H like this.
  6. Luis H

    Luis H Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Maine
    3,022
    1,361
    Thanks for that reply.

    I normally work "new construction". I forgot about that.
     
    cerich likes this.
  7. Rollin Bonz

    Rollin Bonz *insert catchy phrase here* ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Georgia, the state, not the country ;-)
    543
    471

    I think the problem is (as I understand it) this same layout has been signed off on by hundreds of CG officers in thousands of inspections for decades.... How do you then declare that what has been acceptable (thousands of times for decades) in the past is suddenly not acceptable? I imagine, prior to this disaster, an officer failing a vessel like the Conception based on the now obvious concerns of passenger egress would be fighting quite an uphill battle to back up his/her decision. From both his superiors as well the captain/owner of the vessel. Unfortunately it sometimes takes a tragedy like this to shine light on a system's shortfalls that, in hindsight, should have been obvious and addressed much sooner.
     
  8. bowlofpetunias

    bowlofpetunias Oh no, not again! ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Sydney Australia
    12,685
    6,146


    A ScubaBoard Staff Message...


    This summary updated 14 Sept 2019 Updates are also posted on page one of this thread. Please follow links and read surrounding posts to keep up to date.

    It is always best to read an entire thread before commenting. Due to the length of this one we are providing & updating this summary for topics covered. We believe this information is credible but it can not be established as proven facts prior to completion of the investigation.

    Please be kind when you post here remember the special rules and consider families, friends and survivors who are reading this. Consider Accidents and Incident Threads: Victim Perspective

    We can not determine the cause here but discussing possibilities may help to prevent future tragedies.

    34 Casualties DNA identified

    Conception compliant met or exceeded applicable USCG requirements on last inspection implies approved; fire alarms, fire fighting equipment and escape routes

    NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) Preliminary Report
    Preliminary Report: Marine DCA19MM047
    Discussion points
    • concludes all crew sleeping
    • Statement in Preliminary Report says it may contain errors


    Anchor Watch


    Rough time line as reported
    • night dive time? commonly done by passengers; NO night dive by Crew
    • 2:30 crew member finished up in the galley verified heating elements were out and cold etc. Then went upstairs to bed. Not indicated if this was the designated Anchor Watch see
    • Between 3 and 3:14, a crew member awoke hearing a bang. He attempted to go down to investigate but stairs already afire.
    • 5 crew were in the wheelhouse two levels above the berth area. 1 crew member in the berth below did not survive.
    • crew jumped to deck, one broke leg other undisclosed ankle injuries
    • Captain first Mayday from Bridge documented 3:14
    • crew tried to reach the passengers from aft passage into the salon/galley then via forward front windows
    • forced from the boat by the fire some swam aft to the dingy & brought it alongside to rescue injured crew
    • sought help from nearby vessel Grape Escape Another Mayday call.

    Most suspected causes of fire discussed
    Battery discussions here

    Original location of fire not yet established
    • former owner believes it started in passenger berth area
    • some believe it started in galley/salon area
    Conception's layout and facilities
    Exits from Dorm
    • main exit - stairs to starboard forward end of the dorm to the galley/salon.
    • emergency hatch above bunks at aft end of dorm exited in aft portion of the salon, just inside the passageway to the after deck.
    • no locked doors to the galley, salon or berth area.

    The design of berth area and escape hatches discussed extensively. It meets current USCG standards which many believe may be changed as a result of this tragedy.

    Excellent DAN article Mental Health post incident

    Google Map link that shows Platt Harbor and the US Coast Guard Station, Channel Islands. Ventura and Santa Barbara are to the north

    Related threads

    A personal perspective on California Live-aboards
    Discussion of legal aspects here
    Condolences posted here
    Donations here
     
  9. Texas Torpedo

    Texas Torpedo Pollo Grande Tejano! ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: College Station, Texas
    1,168
    485
    You pretty much answered your own initial question - which may have been your intent. One or two people die = no national news coverage, things often get swept under the rug.. 30+ divers / people die in their (hopefully) sleep, "authorities" are going to be forced to revisit standards / rules / laws - regardless of history.
     
  10. Luis H

    Luis H Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Maine
    3,022
    1,361
    I deal with a couple of shipbuilders and the most common reply to why they don’t want to fix something is: “this is the way we have always done it”.
     
    Rollin Bonz likes this.
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