(http://www.MaritimeCyprus.com) On Monday, September 2, 2019, about 3:14 a.m. Pacific daylight time, US Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach received a distress call from the 75-foot commercial diving vessel Conception, with 39 persons on board. The Conception was owned and operated by Truth Aquatics, Inc., based in Santa Barbara, California. The Conception was classified by the US Coast Guard as a small passenger vessel that took passengers on dive excursions in the waters around the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara. The accident voyage was a three-day diving trip to the Channel Islands. On the last night of the voyage, the vessel was anchored in Platts Harbor off Santa Cruz Island, 21.5 nautical miles south-southwest of Santa Barbara, when it caught fire. Weather conditions were reported as slight to no winds with patchy fog, 2–3-foot seas, and air and water temperature about 65°F. The Conception was carrying 39 persons, 6 of which were crew. Thirty-three passengers and one crewmember died.
The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued its preliminary report on the 2 September fatal fire on the passenger vessel Conception off Santa Cruz Island. The preliminary report is purely factual, reaching no conclusion as to causation, but notes that all the vessel’s crew members were asleep when the fire broke out.
The Conception dive boat, did not have a crewmember on roving overnight watch as required by its certificate, according to the National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report and NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt.
“We do have witness testimony that seems to contradict the notion that the entire crew was asleep,” attorney Douglas Schwartz said in the statement. “We do know that one crewmember checked on and around the galley area at around 2:30 a.m., approximately 30 minutes before the fire broke out.”