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Horrific dive boat fire near Santa Cruz

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by richc, Sep 2, 2019.

  1. richc

    richc NES Member

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    34 people unaccounted for, 5 rescued after boat catches fire near Santa Cruz Island

    How the hell does this happen? 20 yards from shore. Crew was on deck while passengers were below. Experienced operator with great track record.

    Boat has sunk. 34 missing and presumed dead.

    How the hell did this happen? Fuel leak? Or God forbid some sort of murder/suicide? Or even terrorism? I know there's some very experienced boaters and former Coast Guard on NES. WTF happened here?

    This just does not add up.

    RIP all involved. You started this Labor Day thinking you'd have a relaxing dive on your day off. And tragedy struck...
     
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  2. rommel

    rommel NES Member

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    The greatest threat to any boat is fire. This one happened about 3:00 AM, so odds are everyone was sleeping and probably got trapped by fire.
    Could be fuel related or possibly smoking
     
  3. AntiHippie

    AntiHippie

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    A lot of the reporting in the media has been all over the road - borderline reckless reporting. Shocker, I know. I’m sure more reliable information will come out as the day goes on. Biggest question I have is how a mass conflagration started that fast and that intense on a T boat, and why alternate egress was ineffective.
     
  4. Hetzer

    Hetzer NES Member

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    Middle of the night, crew was in their quarters basically topside and the guests were all belowdecks.

    Just a horror show.
     
  5. whalerman69

    whalerman69 NES Member

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    Could be older boat inboard gas engines and blowers not working properly to clear fumes and an ignition source.
     
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  6. ldi

    ldi NES Member

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    It’s more likely to be an electric/wiring related.
     
  7. nstassel

    nstassel NES Member

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    I spent alot of time on offshore dive boats. I got curious and took a look. According to the data on the operators website it was a diesel boat with built in fire suppression system. I did see that there was only one exit from the sleeping quarters before deck and you had to cut through the galley to exit to topside. The forward compartment with the second access hatches were divided from the sliding quarters by a bulkhead and contained showers which is an odd arrangement and deadly as it turned out.
     
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  8. AntiHippie

    AntiHippie

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    It was a certificated subchapter T boat. I’m willing to bet there WAS alternate egress when the COI was issued. I’m curious to hear why it was ineffective. (Post-issuance alterations, insufficient passenger briefing, conflag got too far too fast and obscured the space...)

    Meantime, I’m praying for the families of all affected, and for the Station Channel Islands and 87 crew. This is going to be a SAR case they’ll lose a lot of sleep over for a long time.
     
  9. nstassel

    nstassel NES Member

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    conception-bunk-layout.png
     
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  10. AntiHippie

    AntiHippie

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    Saw that diagram also, but that’s meant to show berthing arrangements. I can’t imagine a Marine Inspector signing off on a COI without alternate egress from berthing spaces. I’m not one, and I don’t deal too much with T boats in my day to day (but I am licensed to run them), but I know what an important factor that is. If and when my day slows down I’ll look for the requirement.

    Edit: It’s in subpart E. 46CFR177.500. Someone that DOES specialize in T and K boats just hit me up with it.
     
  11. richc

    richc NES Member

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    I heard the word "explosion" used to describe what happened.

    Man this is such a freaking tragedy. My son is a recreational diver and I just can't imagine...
     
  12. mibro

    mibro NES Member

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    Thanks for the informed opinion. I was thinking galley fire before you posted this. If I'd booked that trip and discovered the only way up from below decks was through the galley I would have stayed ashore.

    Someone should hang for this, regardless.
     
  13. Evtide

    Evtide NES Member

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  14. AntiHippie

    AntiHippie

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    Their Certificate of Inspection would NEVER have been issued if the only egress was through the galley - or any workspace. Given the time that it happened, I’m not leaning towards galley fire, but whatever it was went full on mass conflagration really fast. REALLY fast. I’m sure I’ll hear more on it soon, I’ll share whatever’s been released or approved for release. The initial distress call HAS been released, though. Forget where I saw it, but it went lost comms after the initial transmission.

    Edit: Went through my browser history and found the link:
    AUDIO: Mayday Call From Crew As Boat Explodes Into Flames Off Santa Clara Island
    And the media are f’ing vultures, surrounding the surviving crew with cameras like that. Those poor guys know what just happened to their passengers, I can’t imagine having to deal with that and having the media rub salt in the wound like that.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2019
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  15. Bob P

    Bob P NES Member

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    Jesus this is awful
     
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  16. Picton

    Picton NES Member

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    Isn’t it a legal problem if the crew escapes before the passengers do, or is that mostly myth?

    I do remember that Italian skipper faced charges for leaving his passengers a few years back, but then that’s Italy.
     
  17. AntiHippie

    AntiHippie

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    Myth. Schettini faces charges because he WAS a shitbag that caused the accident, and was on one of the first shipboard lifeboats.

    This crew was above decks when a sudden mass conflag kicked off, and passengers were below decks - there is likely very little they could have done. Whoever stuck around to make that broadcast from the bridge (where I assume the VHF he used was) had some balls to do that instead of GTFO. That was very likely as much as any of them really could do. You can’t expect the crew to commit suicide just because an unexpected catastrophe killed the passengers. (I mean as far as staying on the boat and riding it out to a horrific death - not as far as their friends and families needing to stay close to them after this - you CAN expect them to have some ideations.)

    Without specific reference to this incident, because nobody knows what really happened yet - drives home the point about taking safety matters seriously. Brief your passengers. Drill your crew. Don’t treat it as a checkbox just to get underway - take that shit seriously.
     
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  18. appraiser

    appraiser NES Member

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    the smoke probably put them on the floor before the fire got to them, similar to airplane fires.
     
  19. m_n_x

    m_n_x NES Member

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    Fox News reporting the captain stated the passengers may have been locked below decks? WTF?
     
  20. powerman

    powerman NES Member

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    Dive tanks, O2.???? Compressor ??
     
  21. Mountain

    Mountain NES Member

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    Ugh... Grew up out there until moving to the southeast. On a clear day I could see the islands from my bedroom window.

    Where they were anchored is at least 25 miles from either Santa Barbara or Ventura. Santa Cruz island is pretty desolate- not much there, maybe a couple ranches and a mil communications station that I'm not sure is manned. Most of the shore is cliffs, especially where there are sea caves that might make interesting stops.

    I'm seeing a couple reports that the sleeping quarters were locked, which would be weird as hell as I can't think of a reason to lock anything there. My brother may have firefighter friends who have heard something. Appreciate the posts about the layout of that boat- a big nope for me to only have access out via the galley.
     
  22. nstassel

    nstassel NES Member

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    There is a report that there is a hatch toward the stern for the sleeping quarters that is supposedly unlatched.
     
  23. SERE

    SERE NES Life Member NES Member

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    [angry] UPDATE:
    Coast Guard: 25 bodies found after California boat fire

    Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr Matthew Kroll said Monday night that 25 people had died. Five of six crew members on the Conception escaped by jumping into an inflatable boat they steered to a nearby vessel.

    Rescuers initially recovered four bodies about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles just off Santa Cruz Island, and 16 others were pulled from the water later in the day. The Coast Guard says five others have been found but not recovered due to unsafe conditions under the boat, which sank about 20 yards (18 meters) from shore.

    Authorities will search for the nine people still unaccounted for through the night.

    "We should all be prepared to move into the worst outcome," Coast Guard Capt. Monica Rochester said at a news conference.

    The four bodies recovered initially had injuries consistent with drowning, Kroll said.

    It wasn't immediately clear when the bodies on the ocean floor might be retrieved or when divers could search the boat for others.

    "It's upside down in relatively shallow water with receding tides that are moving it around," Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said. Investigators have not yet determined a cause for the fire.
     
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  24. Spanz

    Spanz NES Member

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    one habit i have developed long ago...when i check into a hotel...i figure out where the exit stairs are...just so it can find them when i am on my hands and knees in a smoke filled dark hallway in the middle of the night.

    I suppose the same works in boats too...figure out where the emergency hatches are, and if they are locked...ask WHY!
     
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  25. Woodstock

    Woodstock NES Member

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    My mother's uncle was a captain in the NYFD. She said he would look for possible exits whenever they walked into a restaurant, and he turned around and walked out of more than one. And one of those caught fire a few years later and killed dozens of people.
     
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  26. FiremanBob

    FiremanBob NES Member

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    Someone on that boat knew something about the Clintons.
     
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  27. TC McQuade

    TC McQuade NES Member

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    Lock them in the quarters so they don't go skinny dipping in the middle of the night and end up drowning... I'd rather go skinny dipping than die in a fire. What a horrific way to go.
     
  28. Jason Flare

    Jason Flare NES Member

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    Pretty much every way there is to die I don’t want to do it.
     
  29. AntiHippie

    AntiHippie

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    Locked in would be unprecedented and unheard of. I don’t buy that one bit - nor do I believe the only egress was through a working space and there was no alternate egress, yet somehow the vessel was issued a COI. Not an ice cube’s chance in hell. No way no how any Marine Inspector would sign off on that - those folks are VERY particular about 46CFR compliance for subchapter T and K boats. There is a lot of media (and other) reporting from people talking out of their ass, that don’t know saltwater from dog piss - don’t believe too much of it.
     
  30. Mountain

    Mountain NES Member

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    Yeah, I hope you are right. Does seem to be a report of someone calling for help, having difficulty breathing and unable to get out. A big part of people wanting to know what happened is preventing a recurrence.

    I've done a lot of diving and was a working PADI Divemaster, but never on a live-aboard or even for over-nights. Over-nights are common there because of the time involved to get out to the islands. There's a few tiny beaches, but most of the coastline would be pretty terrible for anyone who had to jump overboard in the dark without a PFD or during rough seas even if one had a PFD:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     

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