More than two months after 34 people died in a fire on a dive boat in California, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation is expected to hear details about the deadly blaze on Thursday as part of a hearing on maritime-vessel safety.
The 16-member subcommittee has jurisdiction over the Coast Guard, including the regulation of vessels and seamen.
A preliminary investigation by federal investigators found that the entire crew of the Conception was asleep when the blaze began aboard the dive boat on Sept. 2. Truth Aquatics has previously declined to comment on the investigation. Regulations require that at least one crew member on this type of boat be awake at all times.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
What regulation could state officials enact to prevent future boat fires? Join the conversation below.
National Transportation Safety Board officials previously said their investigation into the Labor Day fire could take months. A spokesperson for the NTSB said new information about the fire is unlikely as the investigation continues.
“I expect this hearing is only the beginning of our oversight efforts on the Conception tragedy, as we await the NTSB’s final report and recommendations,” said Rep. Julia Brownley (D., Calif.), a member of the subcommittee.
The accident, which killed 33 passengers and one crew member, occurred on the last day of a three-day diving trip to the Channel Islands off the coast of California. Here’s a look at how it unfolded:
Thirty-three passengers and one crewmember slept in the bunkroom below the main deck of Truth Aquatics’ Conception on Sept. 2.
A Step-By-Step Blueprint For Making Money Online, That Is 100% Dummy Proof!
GET EASY FREE TRAFFIC + AFFILIATE OFFER = COMMI$$IONSGet The Simple Traffic Blueprint Now!
Five crewmembers were asleep on the wheelhouse deck when the fire broke out.
One of the crew woke up and saw flames coming from the salon and galley. He didn’t hear a smoke alarm, according to investigators. The boat is believed to have had smoke alarms throughout, based on the National Transportation Safety Board’s review of a similar vessel owned by Truth Aquatics, but the system was likely “not connected through any sort of wiring from the bunkroom up to the bridge.”
The bunkroom had two exits: a spiral stairwell in the front and an emergency hatch located above a bunk in the back. Both exits led to the galley. There should have been a fire extinguisher, smoke alarm and emergency lights on each level of the boat, according to safety standards.
The crew on the wheelhouse deck tried using a ladder to get down to the main deck, but were unable to because of the flames. They jumped, and one crewmember broke his leg. Meanwhile, the captain radioed a distress message to the Coast Guard.
When crewmembers tried to access the passengers through the galley, they were overwhelmed by smoke and jumped overboard. Investigators are looking into whether the cause of the fire started here.
After jumping from the boat, the captain and two crewmembers swam to the stern and reboarded the vessel. They opened the hatch to the engine room and saw no fire.
The crew then got into a dinghy and paddled to a nearby ship. The captain continued to radio for help, while two crewmembers went back to search for survivors.