Post-Conception Disaster: what you learned & will change

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nhughes

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I mentioned the situation with batteries before. divers often have little knowledge of what theyre doing when it comes to batteries. the fact that most torches rely on 18650s is the root of the issue, as despite spending often hundreds or even thousands on lights I see so many divers using unprotected 18650 cells in them, not realising what this actually means. add to that that the abuse these cells suffer is often on the high end of the scale, its a recipe for problems. you can purchase fireproof mats btw, RC hobby stores will often stock these charging 'mats' or 'pouches'.
 

guyharrisonphoto

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I am already paying attention to this in regular scuba life. I recently decided to pass on a particular brand of video light. their "battery pack" was basically 4 unidentified brand18650s shrink-wrapped together with wires soldered to them to make a wiring harness that had to be plugged in to the light wires. It seemed like a slipshod thing at best, and forget about any protective circuitry. Not for me . . . I will have to get another more expensive brand. You do get what you pay for.
 

KevinNM

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...and if the fire never happened they would still be doing the same crap.

Just like PG&E ( the utility company in my area), they let trees and crap grow over lines and were supposed to fix and upgrade infrastructure as time went along. But instead they chose to stuff their pockets with the profits and shine on the necessities until it all burned down in 2017.
The government regulator also preferred they spend the money on solar power rather then rebuilding100 year old transmission lines. Given that it’s a 20+ year process to get permits for new transmission lines in CA.. Not to mention that when you make it really a huge pain to trim the trees to create clear areas around power lines a possible ‘solution’ is to stop trimming where it’s a massive pain.

Luckily no regulators lost any pay, much less their jobs.

Think any of the inspectors who missed the issues on the Conception lost any either?
 

lexvil

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The government regulator also preferred they spend the money on solar power rather then rebuilding100 year old transmission lines. Given that it’s a 20+ year process to get permits for new transmission lines in CA.. Not to mention that when you make it really a huge pain to trim the trees to create clear areas around power lines a possible ‘solution’ is to stop trimming where it’s a massive pain.

Luckily no regulators lost any pay, much less their jobs.

Think any of the inspectors who missed the issues on the Conception lost any either?
I can smell it but didn’t see the horse.
 

NAM001

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Will assume most everyone knows I'm talking about the Truth Aquatic's boat Conception that suffered a fire resulting in the deaths of all 33 passengers and 1 crewman. Other threads have gone into specifics of what happened, what's suspected to've happened, what should be done in response to what happened, etc... My aim for this thread is different.

I'd like to know first what you personally learned new from this situation, and secondly what, if anything, you will do differently in planning and accepting future trips, particularly live-aboard trips but not just those. I'll start.

What I Learned

1.) I learned that in U.S. waters boats in that class are legally supposed to have a 'roving watch' at all times when even one passenger might be in a berth, which practically tends to be 24/7 while underway. It's an issue in quickly detecting fires before escalation, or when boats come loose from moorings (even in benign conditions, a mooring could come loose and a boat drift over and hit a reef).

2.) That is often not practiced. Also be mindset vessels outside U.S. waters might be under so such mandate (or if so, do they follow it)?

3.) When the bunk/stateroom area is 'confined,' as it was in a large room below deck on the Conception, it is preferred there be 2 really useable paths of egress from it, ideally leading to different points, ideally to open deck (e.g.: not both to an enclosed salon).

4.) Sometimes the 2nd method may be an overhead hatch that's hard to reach and wouldn't accommodate some obese people, or a bunch of people needing rapid evacuation. Due to practical consideration in boat construction and regulations, it is not practical to just 'cut a big hole and install stairs' to add a great 2nd path to a pre-existing boat.

5.) Once inflamed, boat fires can escalate much faster than I knew, creating such intense heat as to be impassable. I'd thought if smoke inhalation didn't get you while asleep, surely you could run through (albeit burned). Not necessarily so.

6.) Rechargeable lithium batteries on chargers can be a fire hazard and generate intense heat...but I still don't know just what the risk is. Ideally a charging station would be in some fireproof metal container...but this isn't common practice.

7.) Smoke alarm systems vary in quality and not every boat setup is as reliable as one might hope.

8.) Boats vary in safety briefings, including whether they mention a 2nd means of egress.

9.) A change in boating requirements could effectively shut down some boats, or lead to substantial increases in trip costs (specifics unclear).

What I Will Do Differently

1.) I look for that 2nd exit path. In one case, at the end of a hall I saw an overhead item I think was a hatch. Couldn't have reached it. Didn't ask crew. I look around, but I'm not confrontational.

2.) Look for more safety-preparedness specifics in trip reviews, though I doubt it'll change why willingness to dive with otherwise reputable op.s for now.

In summary, I learned several things, but doubt it'll change my trip booking habits for now. I'm more aware of the risks, but not sure how the risk of serious injury or death compares to other risks I take (e.g.: of drowning on a dive, immersion pulmonary edema, serious fall getting in or out in a shore dive, fall with injury onboard). The Conception disaster was horrible...much like the accounts I've read of great white shark attacks, and the pain of loved ones after a diver dies (e.g.: likely from confusion related to narcosis and wandering off at depth, or simply never coming back).

What about the rest of you? Is the absence of a reliable roving watch now a deal-breaker? What about a good 2nd means of exit from bunks/staterooms? One diver mentioned he and wife paid extra for a stateroom that's not below deck; what are you willing to pay extra for that?


I learned nothing form it. My military time alerted me to these problems form day one.
 

DiveProKoko

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Thought I'd chime in here since we just got off the Aggressor II in Turks and Caicos on Saturday. It was our first liveaboard and I researched a lot about it (and safety) before we went. I also work in public safety, so I'm a bit keen on having things squared away. This is mostly out of concern for my wife, as I don't get rattled by much these days. LOL! I couldn't have been happier with the safety measures on the boat. There were fire extinguishers in every room, in the hallway on the living quarters deck, etc. Everywhere! We stayed in the Master Cabin in the bow. There was no escape hatch in the room, but there was a hatch at the top of a wide ladder directly outside the door of our cabin. The hatch was a floor panel in the wheelhouse/captains quarters area where you could easily get top side.

As for batteries.....there was ZERO charging allowed in the rooms if you weren't there. The crew made checks when they made the rooms up and cleaned and also performed periodic "room checks" to be sure. They had a night watch (Richard) who is a VERY squared away young man. Personable and attentive. Once I met him, I had no concerns that he would be negligent on the job. Camera and light batteries were charged in a dedicated room on the dive deck and checked periodically. I'm also pretty sure they cut power to the charger room and stopped chargers at midnight and turned them back on before wakeup (6 am). This makes sense. With a night dive at 7pm, if your batteries won't charge between post dive (8 pm-ish) and midnight and a little bump in the morning before the 8am dive, you need new batteries/charger. Everyone on board, like myself, who dove with a camera and video lights that I alternated batteries in between dives, thought it was sufficient. Even for the lady on the boat with 15,000 lumen pro dive lights! LOL!

I realize operations vary by boat, even within the same fleet, but I have to say the Aggressor II in TCI did a great job. I'd dive with them again in a second!
 

araviele

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Thx for the report on safety. I'll be going on this LOB in 4 weeks. Its reassuring to know its been checked out by someone who knows about safety. I was in Bonaire when that awful tragedy occurred in CA. Made me think about some the the LOB's I've been on and will never go again.
 

hilljo88

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Thx for the report on safety. I'll be going on this LOB in 4 weeks....

I’m curious what the plan is for Covid testing to return to US from LOB. Can they test on board? Do you need extra days on land for testing and results?
 

tridacna

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I’m curious what the plan is for Covid testing to return to US from LOB. Can they test on board? Do you need extra days on land for testing and results?

@Dan is the resident expert here.
 

BalekFekete

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*carefully watching the thread as one who has not done a liveaboard but has it on the list of To-Dos sometime in 2023 or beyond*
 
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