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Winds halt Conception dive boat salvage effort

Posted at 6:27 PM, Sep 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-06 23:33:11-04

The U.S. Coast Guard says safety concerns have halted efforts to salvage the dive boat Conception, which claimed 34 lives when it caught fire and sank off the coast of Santa Cruz Island on Monday.

Petty Officer Mark Barney says gusty winds made it too risky to continue the operation.

Winds of up to 40 mph are predicted through the weekend. Authorities say salvage operations will resume when it's safe to do so.

Coast Guard officials say salvage crews have been successful in flipping the boat. It had been upside down on the ocean floor until Friday.

It's unknown when the salvage operation will continue, but Lt. Commander Matthew Kroll says time is of the essence.

"The longer that the vessel is in the water, the more it is exposed to the elements, the more risky it's going to be to resurface it," he said.

At a press conference Friday morning, U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Monica Rochester said the process could take some time.

"It's not just a fast raise," she said. "It's going to be a very gentle raise to try and retain the vessel to be intact. With that, that could be a very lengthy raise."

Kroll says they will continue to reassess the conditions over the weekend but in the meantime, other vessels will be on scene to secure the area.

He adds that the Conception has shifted over the last couple of days and that has allowed divers looking for the last victim to explore areas that were previously inaccessible.