The Coast Guard plans to convene a high-level investigation into the Sept. 2 fire and sinking of the commercial dive vessel Conception. All 33 passengers and one crewmember died in the incident, which occurred off the coast of Santa Cruz, Calif.
The impending Marine Board of Investigation is the Coast Guard’s highest-level casualty probe process. A four-member panel appointed by Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl L. Schultz will look into what took place before Conception left port, the vessel’s compliance record, crewmember qualifications, weather, onboard safety and firefighting equipment, and Coast Guard oversight.
The panel intends to determine:
• The accident’s contributing factors.
• Whether any members of Conception’s crew is guilty of misconduct, inattention to duty, negligence or willful violation of the law led to the accident.
• What role, if any, the Coast Guard or any other government agency may have had.
Reports indicate that five members of Conception’s crew did place a mayday call and try to rouse sleeping passengers after realizing the seriousness of the situation. The crewmembers then retrieved Conception’s skiff, made their way to a nearby boat, and filed another mayday report. The Conception accident is the worst U.S. maritime disaster since the explosion of the turret on the Navy battleship Iowa in 1989, killing 47 sailors.