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Discussion in 'Accidents and Incidents' started by Ken Kurtis, Oct 19, 2020.

  1. KevinNM

    KevinNM DIR Practitioner

    There are lots of clever solutions to some of the problems this awful event revealed. But there isn’t a magic wand. An electrical fire behind the seats won’t be stopped by the charging table. Maybe it will be stopped by the crewman at 2am wondering what the funny smell is. Or maybe he’ll decide it’s nothing and go into the engine room. Even then, the smoke alarms all over the boat going off should help limit how bad it gets.

    So it’s going to take a defense in depth approach, so all the holes don’t line up.
    rjack321 and cathal like this.
  2. nolatom

    nolatom Captain

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: New Orleans
  3. Mike Walker

    Mike Walker Nassau Grouper

    Very true - but when seeing quotes such as the below it seems this is being regarded as harder than it probably is.

    Circuit breakers, various 'fault' trip technologies. Nothing new here.

    There's a lot of ways for water to get inside a boat - I'm sure somewhere along the line in most boat designs it is being considered if one or several compartments fill. And, more importantly, how fast. I'd rather be on a boat that ends up on the bottom of the ocean after 20 minutes while I run through spraying water than on one that ends up on the bottom of the ocean after 45 minutes where I run through flames. At some point it's not about saving the boat - just the people.

    Moreso than a building - probably. But it seems to be done regularly enough to not be impossible. I've been on one fully sprinklered dive boat and I'm pretty sure I've seen them on ferries and such.

    Much of the above conversation was seeming a bit defeatist and it's bothering me.
    It's a fixable problem. Figure it out. :)
    Brett Hatch likes this.
  4. Open Ocean Diver

    Open Ocean Diver ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Toronto, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea
  5. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    So here's the deal. There are a ton of engineered solutions, manpower solutions, and other solutions to the problems on the Conception, but at the end of the day, NO ONE MADE THEM DO ANY OF THEM.

    Most dive boat owners (I was one, I speak for me) aren't going to go above and beyond the bare regulatory necessities required by the regulator. I did a little, as I had CO monitors on my air system and a supervised fire alarm panel, video cameras in unmanned spaces, etc, but none of that is required. What is required is a watch 24/7 to prevent the boat from burning, and having the boat built from non-combustible materials. The owner and captain did not ensure that this happened, and the boat burned.

    I've burned a liveaboard dive boat. Happily, no one was on it aside from me, my wife, and the welder. Engineered solutions (air-tight bulkheads and hatches) prevented a major conflagration, but the route limits for Conception did not require those solutions, so while we all point out what could have been installed, remember that what was installed met the minimum requirements that the regulatory agency had for keeping passengers safe.

    And nothing has changed.
  6. wnissen

    wnissen ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Livermore, Calif.
    Another major factor that goes unmentioned is the tendency of the legal requirements to establish a threshold that people meet, but rarely exceed, as you note. It's understandable, you go to the effort of learning the legal requirements and meeting them, no small matter, and afterwards feel like you're "safe". The boat wasn't required to have connected smoke detectors because it was "grandfathered" in, and so the owners feel like it's not really necessary. There's no law covering whether my residential house has to have connected smoke detectors, and I decided not to, based on the idea that I would be woken up by any smoke detector in the house, and that every room has an alternate immediate exit to the outside, even if that means I might break a leg. But when you're talking a three-story boat, with a large number of people, and necessarily limited egress, might not the owners decide on their own, "Hey, the crew on the top deck might not hear an alarm from below decks, better hook up the smoke detectors"? You see that all the time. There's a legal minimum for the width of a bathroom stall. Smart people say, OK, I'll build to the legal minimum, and realize their elbows are bumping the sides because the legal minimum is ridiculously tiny in practice.

    I'd like to see a points-based system that would allow for tradeoffs. The roving watch is worth a lot of points, but you don't have to have one if you have centralized water ingress and non-toxic automatic fire suppression systems in every compartment that are tested monthly. At least that would make the owners think about what scenarios they're trying to mitigate, rather than checking boxes on a list of legal minimums and calling it a day.
  7. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    You can negotiate. I successfully negotiated away 2 more crewmembers (as roving watches) because we maintained a navigational watch 24/7, and the navigational watch had CCTV to all unmanned spaces (engineroom, compressor room, generator room, sundeck, weatherdecks) or direct access to those spaces where we couldn't mount CCTV (berthing and heads). It's called in USCG parlance "Equivalent Safety" and it's a real thing. But the owner didn't bother.
    hilljo88, rjack321, Hoyden and 7 others like this.
  8. tursiops

    tursiops Marine Scientist and Master Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: U.S. East Coast
    Only if you must have at least 100% score on everything, and excess points are used to give you a nice wall certificate. Why would I want to allow the boat I'm going to to have less than some requirement? the whole point is it is a layered defense.....try and not have the fire in the first place, try and detect it if it happens anyway....try and put it out once detected....try and get people out of danger.... It really doesn't matter which one you fail on, since you want moderate success on ALL of them, and taken together is even better.
  9. uwxplorer

    uwxplorer Rebreather Pilot

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Los Angeles
    I don't know of any SoCal liveaboard that would fulfill the recommendations of the NTSB at this time. Even the modified Vision apparently is failing due to the lack of staircase to the new bunkroom exit hatch, as far I understand the discussion.
    This being said, I would wholeheartedly support upgrades to all boats if this is the motivation that the Coast Guards are apparently lacking in enacting these requirements (which would include fishing boats). The Conception accident has been an eye opener for many of the landlubbers among us.
    There might be a way to support funding for these upgrades, either by special State funding, tax deduction, or a fund raising operation similar to that spearheaded by the OP for the Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber.
    Otherwise we might be witnessing the end of overnight scuba trips in SoCal.
  10. KevinNM

    KevinNM DIR Practitioner

    It's got that potential. It's perfectly possible to write regs that make it financially impractical to operate. For example, there is a reason what there are very few passenger vessels in the "more than 12 but less than hundreds of passenger' category in the US. It's because crossing the 12 passenger line changes the entire regulatory regime. You can legally operate a thirteen passenger vessel, but apparently you can't economically operate one.

    So we'll see. Changes are needed and hopefully they will produce safer vessels that people can also afford to operate and patronize.
    drrich2 likes this.

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