MV Conception - dive boat fire. Suggestions for improved diving boat standards

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by JosephT, Sep 4, 2019.

  1. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    The bunk layout shows only one stairwell to escape. Oh that's not good. So many bunks, but no way to escape. Just tragic.
     
  2. TANSL
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    TANSL Senior Member

    As I think you already know, there are mandatory, in all spaces used by passengers and crew, two escape routes.
     
  3. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    CONCEPTION was fitted with two escape routes at opposite ends of the compartment as required. Apparently the second scuttle was aft above one of the top berths. To quote a LA Times article
    As I said earlier, implementation not regulation.
    Additionally, as shown in the spec's provided by Angelique in post #11, she was fitted for NITROX charging, and had medical O2 aboard. If the GMC was involved, that's why it spread so fast and there is nothing left topside.
     
  4. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    jhardiman, thanks for the additional info on the other escape hatch. So the requirement was met, but it was obviously difficult to use. And the combination of NITROX & medical oxyen...those accelerate the flames and would spell disaster if those tanks ruptured. That may explain why the fire got so out of control so fast.
     
  5. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    As a casual lover of boats, I have no credential.

    But.

    I am building a boat with two single cabins. Each cabin has two exits.

    It seems to me that regardless of findings; there is a problem with standards.

    I was onboard the Malahini, a charter fishing craft and I was not real thrilled with what appeared to be two exits, both out the aft deck.

    The greatest risk to modern vessels is fire and the number of sleeping berths needs to dictate a higher number of exits it seems. It may not be one to one, but must be more than 1:10.
     
  6. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    Fire has always been the greatest risk, even in the days of sail. And push back has always been the same. Accesses and exits are "non-usable" space that the owner "pays" for, but receives no usable benefit for. One of my problems working even with trained naval sailors was to prevent them from storing canned goods in/on the evacuation scuttles. The US had a CVN in yard a few years ago because some stored oily rags in a pump room evacuation trunk. Fire is always my biggest concern.
     
  7. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    Is a boat the size of the MV Conception large enough for port or hull egress? Even school buses have emergency pop out windows. Perhaps the industry needs some innovation here.

    Yeah, you'd be exiting to sea, but sure beats the alternative.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
  8. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    Totally agree. Pop the hatch, pull the life boat lever and jump out! I have a theory about why there are so many lousy dive boats around the world. Scuba divers are loaded up with swimming gear. The boats often reasonably close to shore. Let us say there is a problem with the boat. Who cares? Put on your fins, inflate your BCD and swim to shore. It's hard to wrap your mind around being trapped in a vessel like this because most dive boats have open access on top. Being caught in an incinerator like this never crosses the mind for most divers.

    This will be a real wake-up call for the diving community. There are a lot of professional divers out there who will demand new standards. They will want to see good fire detection, suppression and more exits. Simple as that.
     
  9. TANSL
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    TANSL Senior Member

    I do not believe that new standards are needed. I think the current ones are quite efficient, although they can be improved. You just have to comply with them and, the authorities, enforce them. For example, current rules require that all escape routes be perfectly clear, without any obstacle. Storage and handling of combustible fluids is well regulated. But of course, an in-depth analysis of each accident lets you know how it could have been avoided.
     
  10. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    They can definitely be improved. The way this boat torched so quickly should be a wake-up call to say the least. I hope the NTSB, USCG and whatever other other agencies are needed demand modifications to the older boats with inadequate exits, fire detection & suppression.
     
  11. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    Looked up the NTSB list of new Marine advisories. There are only 2 listed (M-16-026, M-16-027), and they are geared toward the poorly designed duck boats that keep sinking and trapping passengers.

    It would be nice to see an updated departure checklist for dive boat skippers that includes verification that no flammables or fire accelerants (air tanks, oxygen tanks, flammable materials) are not allowed in berthing areas; and that a fire detection, suppression and evacuation drill/simulation be performed by the crew. Most cruise ships these days practice a big man overboard drill before departing port. they are quite professionally executed these days. Dive & tour boats should do the same.

    Regardless of what country you live in, I would encourage those concerned to write their lawmakers. Tour and dive boats are all over the world and this is just good common sense.

    Ref: https://www.ntsb.gov/safety/mwl/Documents/2019-20/2019-20-MWL-SafetyRecs.pdf
     
  12. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    Perhaps it is language, but a standard is never designed to be efficient. Let me change the wording for you to adequate. Is two exits enough for 30 people? I would never put my family below decks with 5 people and two exits; let alone 30 pax. My standards are different and part of the reason I wanted a catamaran is to avoid the dungeony reality of many boats.
     
  13. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    The size and location of these exits are the problem in my opinion. The air bottles are also problem. The lack of crew & passenger readiness is also a problem. I recently installed new fire detectors in my house. They are wireless and send an alert to my smartphone and the alarm company if they are triggered. They even go off if the temperature goes below freezing (broken pipes).

    Good technology!

    With all the people using smartphones these days, imagine if all vessels had such alerting technology. The local coast guard could be contacted automatically if a local tour or dive boat fire sensor was activated. The location of the vessel would also automatically be provided. If they can do this for homes, there's no reason they can't do it for vessels.
     
  14. TANSL
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    TANSL Senior Member

    @fallguy, sorry for my poor ability with the English language. I try to improve every day although, apparently, with little success.
    @JosephT, what you propose would be fantastic. Undoubtedly, an attempt will be made to adopt a similar solution, but in addition, what should be tried is to prevent the fire from occurring. Once the accident has occurred, of course, the sooner it is notified and an adequate response is achieved, the better.
     

  15. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    The problem is that that is specifically prohibited. I'm not sure, but this vessel was probably 46 CFR Subchapter T. Here are the egress requirements. 46 CFR § 177.500 - Means of escape. https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/46/177.500
    Note para 177.500 (p).
    Every egress is also an ingress. Remember it was deck openings placed IAW civic fire code that sank the PRIDE OF BALTIMORE. Similarly SV CONCORDIA downflooded through the very exits that the crew was supposed to use, but luckily this took much longer.
    All vessels are compromises and there needs to be a well considered balance for each and every vessel. I for one would not recommend or call for some poorly reasoned knee-jerk legislative reaction to what is specifically a technical problem. Let the NTSB do its job, make its recommendations, and then put the pressure on the legislators and the industry (like preventing churches from owning 14+ passenger vans).
     
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