NTSB Reports Productive First Day of Conception Investigation
NTSB Board Member Jennifer Homendy and USCG Capt. Jason Neubauer tour the berthing area of small passenger vessel Vision, a similar vessel to Conception (Photo: NTSB)
By edhat staff
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) provided an update Wednesday afternoon on their investigation of the Conception diving vessel fire that killed 34 people.
NTSB Board Member Jennifer Homendy stated their first full day on the scene was "extremely productive" as they formed into investigative teams and drilled their investigation into four specific groups: operations, engineering, survival factors, and fire safety.
Teams are currently documenting the wreckage and using sonar to map the sunken boat before it's moved. They've also requested a massive amount of documentation ranging from US Coast Guard videos, 9-1-1 dispatch recordings, operation manuals, fire protection and engineering systems, inspection history, and more.
US Coast Guard Captain Jason Neubauer confirmed Conception did not have a sprinkler system installed as it's not required on this type of vessel.
Homendy stressed this will be a lengthy, detailed, and comprehensive investigation. The cause of the fire will only be released in their final report which takes 12 to 24 months. A preliminary report will be released late next week, but it will only include facts and not the cause of the fire.
Captain Neubauer and Homendy visited Truth Aquatic's other vessel Vision today to get a sense of the layout. She stated Vision is not a sister vessel, meaning it's not an exact replica, but it is very similar. Neubauer confirmed the additional vessels owned by Truth Aquatics, Vision and Truth, are not currently operating and have done so on their own accord. The owner cancelled all future dive trips until further notice out of respect for the victims, said KSBY.
NTSB has been conducting interviews with the rescued crew members and Homendy describes them as "very cooperative." She stated the interviews are lengthy, detailed, and take multiple hours. The contents of the interviews will not be disclosed as it could contaminate the investigation.
Captain Neubauer confirmed the surviving crew members were tested for drugs and alcohol following the fire. Four of the five survivors were tested for alcohol with all results being negative. The fifth crew member was injured and taken to the hospital during the testing. All five crew members were tested for drugs, the results are pending.
Interviews will continue with witnesses, first responders, operators of the Good Samaritan boat Grape Escape, as well as current and past Truth Aquatics employees.
Family members and loved ones of the victims also had a chance to meet with Homendy and NTSB personnel for over two hours. They were provided with information and were given the opportunity to ask questions
"This was a horrific tragedy... Those families are why we are here. They're why we do what we do," said Homendy.