Contact US

Log In

Come Join Us!

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips Forums!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!

*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.

Students Click Here

Dive boat disaster in California... finally

Dive boat disaster in California... finally

RE: Dive boat disaster in California... finally

Not really an engineering disaster. Mostly it is a problem of a lack of watch (the crew was asleep). Really tragic. There may have been a second escape route but none of the passengers were aware.

I tell my crews a few things. The first is don't be a hero and use the fixed firefighting system.

Most importantly, if you're in a space that's on fire don't go up the stairs to get out. You'll get cooked. Go to the next compartment, close the door, then ascend. Smoke inhalation injury isn't caused by smoke, it's caused by hot air.

Marine fires are different because you can't evacuate downwards.

RE: Dive boat disaster in California... finally

The engineering failure was lack of fire detection and alarming and lack of a fire-proof charging area. A barbecue unit with a closeable lid to place items being charged would likely have saved them. AFAIK there was no fixed firefighting system.

By the time those below deck were aware, both escape paths were into the flame-engulfed compartment above them. There may have been a tiny forward locker/head/shower, but all 34 people would not have had time to escape. Holding their breath for 10 seconds or less to pass through the fire would be far less a problem than losing up to 80% of their skin due to radiant and convected heat.

10 years seems like too little for operating a death trap and the horrific deaths the 34 suffered.

RE: Dive boat disaster in California... finally

I think you underestimate the dangers of jumping through the flames. Imagine it takes 10 seconds to transit an escape in an overhead. Imagine the overhead temperature is 1000°F. Can your body tolerate exposure to 1000°F for 10 seconds?

I reiterate, the marine fire presents a unique challenge in that the escape has to be upwards, through the danger.

You are correct that early detection is the missing component here.

RE: Dive boat disaster in California... finally

At least no one died:


"The damage to the vessel was estimated at $3 million"

"On November 13, the master of the vessel was working at the desk in his
office, one deck below the bridge. He had a video monitor next to his desk that
showed closed-circuit camera feeds from throughout the vessel, including one from
the vessel’s bridge. About 1530, the master noted that the camera feed for the bridge
was no longer visible, so he went up to the bridge to investigate. When he opened
the door to the bridge, smoke came out and activated the smoke detector at the top
of the stairwell just outside the door."

Because why would you want a smoke detector on the bridge?

"According to SOLAS, the bridge of a vessel is defined as a control station and is not required to have fire and/or smoke detectors."

"Had the fire occurred while the vessel was underway, there would have been personnel on the bridge, and the fire would have been immediately detected."

Seems like a reason to add a smoke/fire detector if the vessel will not always be underway.

Fortunately someone was paying attention, but what if it was night and the bridge was dark?

RE: Dive boat disaster in California... finally

Despite not being required I installed smoke detectors in the wheelhouses of our tugs as the wheelhouse is often unmanned. A fire in the wheelhouse is not hazardous to the crew members but is costly to the vessel. We did have a toggle switch catch fire at one time (that's when I learned about tungsten ratings).

RE: Dive boat disaster in California... finally

Good reminder that SOLAS is a minimum standard.

The "AS" bit of SOLAS is "at sea". This happened alongside (where life and damage to property and the environment still matter - but under someone else's jurisdiction).


RE: Dive boat disaster in California... finally

SOLAS isn't even a minimum standard as it applies only to ocean going vessels. The dive boat in this incident was not under SOLAS jurisdiction. Neither was it under load line (no class society inspections).

My fleet operates under similar rules as "uninspected towing vessels". However we are now required to undergo inspections under "Subchapter M" after many incidents (not ours). Luckily, my company was wise and built its boats to load line standards so the implementation of Sub M was just additional paperwork.

RE: Dive boat disaster in California... finally

It took over six-months since the trial, but the Captain of the dive boat 'Conception' has finally been sentenced:

California Dive Boat Captain Sentenced To 4 Years For Fire That Killed 34 People

Jerry Boylan was the first to abandon ship and jump overboard after the fire broke out, killing all passengers and one crew member.


An excerpt from the above item:

The captain of the California dive boat that caught fire and sank near Santa Barbara, killing 33 passengers and one crew member in 2019, was sentenced Thursday to four years in federal prison.

Jerry Nehl Boylan, 70, was found guilty in November of one count of misconduct or neglect of ship officer, also known “seaman’s manslaughter,” a charge that carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison. In handing down the lighter sentence, U.S. District Judge George Wu said he found Boylan “incredibly remorseful,” the Los Angeles Times reported, calling it “one of the most difficult sentencings I’ve ever done.”

Boylan was the first to abandon ship and jump overboard after the fire broke out on the Conception, a 75-foot dive boat, in the early hours of Sept. 2, 2019. Four crew members who jumped in the water also survived. All 33 passengers, who were on the vessel for a Labor Day weekend scuba diving excursion, were killed.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Dive boat disaster in California... finally

That's a bit over one month per death. Seems like a bulk discount offer.

Note to self: if I build a situation that is likely to kill a large number of people, put some ghost peppers in my pocket and touch them and my eyes a lot during the trial.

This is not a sentence that would make most similar operators and their captains to give even on second of thought about avoiding it.

Try 10 years per death, sequentially.

RE: Dive boat disaster in California... finally

"Incredibly remorseful" = I did not find his show of remorse to be credible?

Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Eng-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Eng-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Eng-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Eng-Tips and talk with other members! Already a Member? Login


Close Box

Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close