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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. SapphireMind

    SapphireMind Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: CA, USA
    I forgot to quote the post that mentioned freezing as being problematic for sprinkler systems - not in CA it isn't. If the temp is below 32 f/0f, something is going horribly wrong and I honestly doubt people would be diving.

    I love this solution, simple, elegant, cheap, and easy to implement immediately.

    Arg, the embedded quote didn't show up, but it was talking about new rules, which included a night watch. Does that mean the culture was there was no night watch before?

    Haven't been on the boats down there, but my guess would be "no". CA is not smoking friendly.
  2. mellowwee

    mellowwee Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Claremont, California

    I agree, and the layout of the Conception is a common layout on the many charter boats running fishing trips off of the Southern California Coast. I would estimate that there are probably about a dozen dive boats operating, and upwards of 200 sportfishing boats operating. On the evening following the Conception disaster I was booked on a tuna fishing trip out of San Diego, I have probably been on about 50 of these overnight to multi day trips. Some of the safety briefings are pretty good, some not so much. I was paying close attention to the briefing and the points of egress from the bunkroom. The safety briefing made no mention of the emergency exit. I went down to take a look. The bunkroom was separated down the middle by a back to back double row of bunks, there were two stairways leading from the aft part of the salon to the bunkhouse. There was only one emergency exit, the wall between the middle bunks was solid, with the exception of a passageway between one set of bunks in the middle, I had a hard time finding it because it was covered by a piece of 1/4 plywood. I am assuming this boat was inspected by the coastguard, I would guess that the plywood was removed prior to inspection, and replaced after inspection. In my estimation it would be very difficult, if not impossible for a significant number of passengers to reach the emergency exit. I wild guess that there will be some serious attention directed to this type of design flaw in future inspections.
    Sven-G likes this.
  3. Scared Silly

    Scared Silly Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: on the path to perdition
    That is a bit of PITA. One of my comments in the other thread about going forward is that the charging station will be concentrated in a few locations and will have power from 6am to 10pm. Turning the power on and off would be a crew duty.
    Gdog likes this.
  4. SapphireMind

    SapphireMind Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: CA, USA
    I think it is more for when they are unattended/at night and people are not sitting in the salon.
  5. Can't Talk ... Diving

    Can't Talk ... Diving Angel Fish

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: West Coast
    If it was batteries that started the fire on the Conception, they went off in just a little over 30 minutes (sometime between the crew member's final check of the galley at 2:30 am and the first fire report at 3:15 am).

    Based on videos of overheating batteries, when they go off, they go fast.
  6. Stoo

    Stoo NAUI Instructor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Freelton & Tobermory, Ontario, Canada
    That was my guess. The Captain and Mate presumably hold the greatest responsibility and the Captain ultimately would be at blame if this went down as it's being reported currently. It looks like a typical criminal investigation... interview the "underlings" and offer immunity from prosecution in return for their evidence and testimony later.
  7. bowlofpetunias

    bowlofpetunias Oh no, not again! Staff Member

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Sydney Australia

    A ScubaBoard Staff Message...

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

    It is best to read a thread before commenting. This one is so long & effects so many people we are providing & updating this summary. We believe this information is credible but can not be established as proven facts prior to completion of the investigation.

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

    We can not determine the cause. Discussing possibilities may help to prevent future tragedies.

    34 Casualties DNA identified. Coroner/Sheriff Brown states probable COD smoke inhalation

    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
    • states 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
    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

    Out of Darkness comes light and Hope
    • Reef Seekers set out new procedures for their scheduled trips
    • Nautilus Lady is already having changes made
    • Individuals are planning personal changes to stay safe

    Related threads

    A personal perspective on California Live-aboards
    Discussion of legal aspects here
    Battery discussions here
    Condolences posted here
    Donations here
    lv2dive, Ayisha and blueclearsky like this.
  8. Stoo

    Stoo NAUI Instructor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Freelton & Tobermory, Ontario, Canada
    That gave me the willies just looking at it. I can't help but imagine a bunch of my dive buddies trying to negotiate that hatch. Several of them are 6'6"+ and (guessing) close to 300 pounds.

    I get that that hatch is "approved" but that seems like a completely inadequate escape route for anything more than a spider monkey. Trying to navigate that in a smoke-filled cabin with full-on panic... Jesus... :(
  9. Madacub

    Madacub Barracuda

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Another thing about the design of the hatch itself: Maybe it should be cabaple of being either flipped totally back and flat (if on hinges), or pushed up and shoved totally out of the way (ie not on hinges, just laying in a lip running all around the hatch). I am speaking "in general", not with respect to this particular boat. Comments?

    I think others have commented earlier that if it is a ladder, a handrail running a bit up and out of the hatch would be helpful.
  10. Stoo

    Stoo NAUI Instructor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Freelton & Tobermory, Ontario, Canada
    Assuming you mean the Dawn Light, to the best of my knowledge, it only has a fire hose and fire extinguishers. I'm heading down to the harbour now so if I see the new owner, I'll ask him. He's been doing a ton of wok on the boat to being it up to current CG standards. He has no intentions of running a LOB again as he's not a diver, but he plans on renting berths out like a B and B I think.

    Also, there have been several references to the "cold water" in California. Isn't it generally in the 50s and low 60s? By Tobermory standards, that's as warm as it ever gets here and that lasts for about 15 minutes at the end of August before it begins to cool off again. I can't imagine that California temps at sea level would pose much risk of a sprinkler system freezing up.
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