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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. outofofficebrb

    outofofficebrb HARRO HUNNAYYY

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Francisco, California
    Aren't they required to have a night watch?
  2. Texas Torpedo

    Texas Torpedo Pollo Grande Tejano! ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: College Station, Texas
    My understanding is yes
  3. Cert1967

    Cert1967 Let's Go Skiing ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Vail, Colorado
    im-106623.jpeg Preliminary Report on Conception Boat Fire Concludes Crew Was Asleep When Fire Began
    By Ben Kesling
    Sept. 12, 2019 2:44 pm ET

    Federal investigators on Thursday released a preliminary report on the Conception boat fire that killed nearly three-dozen people earlier this month off the coast of California, and said the entire crew was asleep when the blaze began.

    National Transportation Safety Board officials have said the full investigation could take more than a year, and preliminary findings highlight remaining questions as much as they provide answers as to how the tragedy happened.

    “A crew member sleeping in the wheelhouse berths was awakened by a noise and got up to investigate,” the report said. “As crew members awoke, the captain radioed a distress message to the Coast Guard.”

    Regulations require a crew member on this type of boat to be awake at all times.

    The preliminary investigation provides some key details beyond what NTSB officials have already talked about publicly in the days following the blaze.​
  4. broncobowsher

    broncobowsher Solo Diver

    Common area like the sleeping berth? Most people will be opposed to a camera in the sleeping area. Opens up a whole new round of privacy issues. Different kind of lawsuits. Given this is California, probably worse than what the fire will do.
    meagicano likes this.
  5. Cert1967

    Cert1967 Let's Go Skiing ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Vail, Colorado

    On Monday, September 2, 2019, about 3:14 a.m. Pacific daylight time, US Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach received a distress call from the 75-foot commercial diving vesselConception, with 39 persons on board. The Conception was owned and operated by Truth Aquatics, Inc., based in Santa Barbara, California. The Conception was classified by the Coast Guard as a small passenger vessel that took passengers on dive excursions in the waters around the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara. The accident voyage was a three-day diving trip to the Channel Islands. On the last night of the voyage, the vessel was anchored in Platts Harbor off Santa Cruz Island, 21.5 nautical miles south-southwest of Santa Barbara, when it caught fire. Weather conditions were reported as slight to no winds with patchy fog, 2–3-foot seas, and air and water temperature about 65°F. The Conception was carrying 39 persons, 6 of which were crew. Thirty-three passengers and one crewmember died.

    The wood and fiberglass vessel was built in 1981. The vessel had three levels: the uppermost sun deck, containing the wheelhouse and crew rooms; the main deck, which included the salon and galley; and the lower deck within the hull, which housed the passenger berthing (bunkroom) and shower room, as well as the engine room and tanks.

    Initial interviews of three crewmembers revealed that no mechanical or electrical issues were reported. At the time of the fire, five crewmembers were asleep in berths behind the wheelhouse, and one crewmember was asleep in the bunkroom, which was accessed from the salon down a ladderwell in the forward, starboard corner of the compartment. The bunkroom had an emergency escape hatch located on the aft end, which also exited to the salon. There were two, locally-sounding smoke detectors in the overhead of the bunkroom.

    A crewmember sleeping in the wheelhouse berths was awakened by a noise and got up to investigate. He saw a fire at the aft end of the sun deck, rising up from the salon compartment below. The crewmember alerted the crew behind the wheelhouse. As crewmembers awoke, the captain radioed a distress message to the Coast Guard.

    The crewmembers attempted to access the salon and passengers below. Unable to use the aft ladder, which was on fire, the crewmembers jumped down to the main deck (one crewmember broke his leg in the process) and tried to access the salon and galley compartment, which was fully engulfed by fire at the aft end and by thick smoke in the forward end, through a forward window. Unable to open the window and overwhelmed by smoke, the crew jumped overboard.

    Two crewmembers and the captain swam to the stern, reboarded the vessel, opened the hatch to the engine room, and saw no fire. Access to the salon through the aft doors was blocked by fire, so they launched a small skiff and picked up the remaining two crewmembers in the water. They transferred to a recreational vessel anchored nearby (Grape Escape) where the captain continued to radio for help, while two crewmembers returned to the Conception to search for survivors around the burning hull. Local Coast Guard and fire departments arrived on scene to extinguish the fire and conduct search and rescue. The vessel burned to the waterline by morning and subsequently sank in about 60 feet of water.

    Later that day, the Coast Guard declared the accident a major marine casualty. The NTSB was named as the lead federal agency for the safety investigation and launched a full team to Santa Barbara, arriving on scene the following morning. The Coast Guard, Truth Aquatics, Inc., Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, and Santa Barbara County Fire Department were named as parties to the NTSB investigation.

    Investigators have collected documents from recent Coast Guard inspections and visited another Truth Aquatics vessel, Vision, a vessel similar to the Conception. Salvage operations to bring the wreckage to the surface for examination and documentation have begun. Investigators plan to examine current regulations regarding vessels of this type, year of build, and operation; early-warning and smoke-detection and alarm systems; evacuation routes; training; and current company policies and procedures. Efforts continue to determine the source of the fire.
    Mike Boswell likes this.
  6. outofofficebrb

    outofofficebrb HARRO HUNNAYYY

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Francisco, California
    By and large, I agree, but something to remember is that this was a bunk room situation specific to this accident. There were also privacy curtains. Essentially, you could view the walkways as "public" areas. Or perhaps at minimum just at the stairs. On a liveaboard where a bunk situation does not exist and there are private twin-share rooms or similar, a camera in the hallway areas would suffice but not in the room itself. Given what we know, this would have been better than a watchman at some other point on the boat, or worse, sleeping, as the NTSB report indicates.

    In hindsight, had cameras been used and the impact of the fire and results were different such as yielding many more survivors or everyone surviving, I'm sure it would have been praised. In addition, I think the victims and their families would have supported this if they could go back and sacrifice a little bit of privacy here to ensure their survival and prevent their deaths. it's always in hindsight...
  7. Wookie

    Wookie Curmudgeon Apprentice ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Supporter

    If I read the below decks drawing correctly, there was a changing area or room down below. I wouldn't expect anyone to get either naked or offended (either/or) in that situation. Although I've seen a lot of folks offended when someone else got naked.

    Although I didn't have cameras in my berthing area, it wouldn't bother me if the coast guard required it.
    outofofficebrb likes this.
  8. MaxBottomtime

    MaxBottomtime Divemaster

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Torrance, CA
    There was a thread last year by a young woman who saw the Captain of a liveaboard peeping at her through a partially opened privacy curtain at her bunk. Most of the posters were ready to string him up. I'm not sure cameras in the berths will work.
    Esprise Me likes this.
  9. Dirty Mac

    Dirty Mac Registered

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Northeast U.S.
    In my experience, on a vessel of this size, the anchor watch and the fire watch are the same person. In fact that person would be watching out for any kind of potential emergency issue. We're not talking about a 500 foot long freighter here.
    rjack321 and CZS like this.
  10. ChrisM

    ChrisM Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Torrance, CA
    I get that, but my point was there wasn't even an anchor watch. I've been on lots of similar boats, and the other two TA boats, on overnight trips. Some of them set two anchors when close to shore (IME they are typically anchored close -- within 100 feet or so-- to shore). I would have just assumed even on a boat of this size, with passengers aboard that an anchor watch would be posted.
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