The Coast Guard announced Wednesday it has issued new security recommendations in the aftermath of a deadly boat fire off the Southern California coast that killed 34 people. The agency recommended restricting the unsupervised charging of lithium ion batteries and using power strips and extension cords.
The bulletin also indicates that owners and operators of vessels review emergency responsibilities with the team, identify emergency leaks, assess all firefighting and lifesaving equipment onboard, and Examine the Status of passenger accommodation spaces for “unsafe practices or other hazardous arrangements.”
The origin of the Sept. 2 fire has not yet been determined. Salvage attempts to regain the Conception — that authorities have stated is expected to assist the investigation — declared this week after a few days of weather delays.
Police have said they’re looking at many things in their investigation, including how batteries and electronic equipment were charged and stored. They’ll also look to how the team was trained and what crewmembers were performing at the time of this fire, which erupted in the middle of the night as the passengers slept.
The boat’s layout will also come under scrutiny, especially whether a bunkroom escape hatch was adequate.
The Coast Guard recommendations come as divers resumed a search for the last missing victim that died near Santa Cruz Island off Santa Barbara. Five of the Conception’s six crew members lived and told researchers they made multiple efforts to rescue people who were trapped below deck.
The FBI, Coast Guard and U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles are conducting a criminal investigation, and the Coast Guard has convened a formal Marine Board of Investigation.
The four members of this board will look into “pre-accident historical events, the regulatory compliance of the Conception, crewmember duties and qualifications, weather conditions and reporting, safety and firefighting equipment, and Coast Guard oversight.”
That investigation is expected to take at least a year. The panel will want to find out the factors that caused the fire, any potential signs of misconduct, inattention to duty, negligence or deliberate ignorance of the law, and when any other factors caused or contributed to the deaths.
Coast Guard records show the Conception passed its two most recent inspections without a safety violations. Previous customers said the firm that owns the boat, Truth Aquatics, and the captains of its three ships, were very security conscious.
Police have stated 21 girls and 13 guys ranging from 16 to 62 years old seem to have died from smoke inhalation.