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Fire on dive boat Conception in CA

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

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  1. DrMack

    DrMack Angel Fish

    I worked on tuna clippers in the north Pacific around the dateline in my youth and these SoCal liveaboards remind me more of the commercial fishing vessels I worked on than they do the typical international liveaboards like the Aggressor fleet. It's too bad that vessels like Conception and the luxury operators get lumped into the same category in the popular press because we in the dive community refer to them both as liveaboards. The rack spaces on the Truth fleet look more like USN enlisted quarters whereas the international liveaboards offer private cabins a la O4+ quarters. It's obviously just a microeconomics trade-off between the two business models so I don't blame the operators. After all, the market demand for the bunk style vessels does signal the need for the supply, but does that trade-off include safety?

    The one thing we feared the most at sea, and I have spent trips of over 100 days without sight of land, was not the weather, but fire. Our nearest landfall was six days full ahead, and that was Midway Island which was just one step up from rescue at sea. So whenever I board ANY vessel, even a basic harbor ferry, I always take note of the locations of all the escape routes and fire suppression equipment. It's just good seamanship. Maybe some of these passengers did that. And if they did, and they still couldn't get out, then there is a fundamental flaw in the design of the vessel.

    One of the USCG radio exchanges in this incident suggested that there were no fire extinguishers in use during the emergency. I know from first hand experience how effective a commercial grade ABC extinguisher can be, not at sea thankfully. So if the fire presented itself at the stairway to the galley, the use of a fire extinguisher at that passageway could have bought enough time for evacuation of the bunk space at the other end, assuming a hatch was there of course.
  2. KevinNM

    KevinNM DIR Practitioner

    I thought crew on a licensed vessel were required to have taken with the past few years a basic and advanced fire fighting hands-on course?
  3. outofofficebrb

    outofofficebrb HARRO HUNNAYYY

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Francisco, California
    Given how bad the fire was and how advanced it may have gotten by the time the mayday call was being made, and where they were in relation to the fire, an extinguisher and other firefighting tools may not have been easily accessible or possible to make enough of a difference even though there were equipment on board. We really do not know enough at this point and the audio release didn’t provide an answer from the Conception, just the CG asking all the questions.
    kumimonster, NAUI Wowie and Lorenzoid like this.
  4. Griffo

    Griffo DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Sydney, Australia
    What a truly shocking tragedy. I have nothing to add except that I hope this doesn't turn into a blame game before the actual facts are known.

    I also truly wish I hadn't listened to that audio.
  5. scubadada

    scubadada Diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Philadelphia and Boynton Beach
    @tursiops deletes nothing, only the moderators do
  6. beepbird

    beepbird Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Orange County, Ca
    If it was an explosion, the electrical could be out resulting in no lights. It world be tough to even find the emergency hatch if they knew where it was. My heart goes out to everyone!
    divingjd and Esprise Me like this.
  7. BDSC

    BDSC Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Wake Forest, NC
    That’s why folks should carry their dive light to the rooms with them at night. I’ve been doing that for the last couple of liveaboards I’ve been on.
    Shasta_man, NYCNaiad, Tricia and 7 others like this.
  8. broncobowsher

    broncobowsher Solo Diver

    I am not sure what "series of tragedies" implies either, they are barely accidents. Asked for a timeline of those events, and the grounding did come up. So a homeless guy figures out how to steal the boat and runs it on shore. That's a foot note in the history, not a tragedy. Something that would show up in a Carfax if you were buying a used car. I recall those boats have some of the safest history out there. Not just a boat, but the fleet was always well known for being good. I always considered them a little nicer than the standard dive boat.

    Looks like I was a little off of my memory (of the 90s). Crew on top deck, galley below. Hull still 4 compartments as I remember. Front anchor/shower, 2nd berths, 3rd engine, 4th equipment room. I remember the engine room was a pair of 8V92 detroits that replaced the original 12V71 detroits (I am a bit of an engine geek). Talked them into showing me the engine room briefly.

    As for the speculation (yes, I am speculating. Make that completely clear) of an issue in the Galley, the crew would have been above it, not in it. Crew cabin above the galley, best point of view to watch anchor, overview of everything. Something goes wrong (speculation again, some lithium battery blows up while on the charger overnight, the fridge shorts out, in-hull wiring short, add pet theory). Galley lights up, oh crap moment. Jump down to deck, F^@*! Back to the crew cabin, bang everyone awake, grab the pilot house extinguisher that is now too small for the galley. Dump what they have access to. Nothing left to do but jump ship. That is 100% my speculation. I want to see what the official report eventually shows, and I am sure it will be all over this board once it is release in a few years

    Multiple explosions, tanks blowing burst disks.

    * if the moderators want to pull the speculation out and toss that into another pot, go for it. I was very clear that my speculation is speculation and no facts to back any of it.

    Back to the tragedy bit, is this the worst dive boat accident ever?
  9. azstinger11

    azstinger11 Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Diego, CA
    There is an article, which apparently got my last post deleted, that says that not both of the trip organizers were on board, one was abroad on another dive trip for the company. The source of the article is a sibling of one of the trip organizers.
  10. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    Captains have to take basic once, although that changed this year, they are required now to take it every 5 years. Unless they don’t sail foreign. Domestic licenses do not require any kind of firefighting. Engineers require basic and advanced firefighting. That boat was not required to carry an engineer.
    couv, DebbyDiver, driftwood and 2 others like this.
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