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Coast Guard opens highest-level marine casualty investigation into Conception boat fire

Posted at 2:19 PM, Sep 11, 2019

The Coast Guard has convened a formal Marine Board of Investigation to investigate the Conception dive boat fire.

It's the highest-level marine casualty investigation in the Coast Guard.

Thirty-four people were killed when the boat caught fire and sank off Santa Cruz Island early Labor Day morning. Five crew members survived. The bodies of all but one of the victims have been recovered.

The Coast Guard says the board, which is made up of four members, will investigate all aspects of the incident, including pre-accident events, the regulatory compliance of the Conception, crew member duties and qualifications, weather conditions and reporting, safety and firefighting equipment, and Coast Guard oversight.

The goal of the investigation is to determine the factors that contributed to the accident, whether there is evidence of any misconduct or negligence, and whether there is evidence that any Coast Guard personnel or other government employee caused or contributed to the casualty.

This investigation is in addition to a Department of Justice investigation involving the FBI, ATF, and Coast Guard Investigative Service; however, the Coast Guard says it will coordinate with the DOJ before seeking new evidence or holding public hearings.

The Coast Guard says the investigation could take a year or longer to complete; however, the Coast Guard does not have to wait for the investigation to conclude to implement urgent safety actions.

Just this week, in response to the Conception disaster, the Coast Guard issued a safety bulletin, urging mariners to, among other things, ensure all required firefighting and lifesaving equipment is onboard and operational and review the overall condition of areas accessible by passengers. Click here to read the full bulletin.

Witnesses or anyone else with information about the Conception can email investigators at