‘Conception’ Fire Under NTSB Investigation

'Major Marine Casualty' Tragedy Brings Federal Inspectors

Adam Tucker and Jennifer Homendy with the National Transportation Safety Board announced investigators with the agency would determine the cause of the fire aboard the dive boat Conception on September 2. | Credit: Paul Wellman

“I am 100 percent confident that we will learn the why and the how” of the Conception fire, Jennifer Homendy said Tuesday afternoon, during a press conference to announce the arrival of investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board; Homendy is a member of the agency’s board. Accompanied by lead investigator Adam Tucker, Homendy told reporters at a quickly announced press meeting that the team of 16 plus three staffers would find the cause of the fire, in part to make sure a “major marine casualty” accident like this did not happen again. The fire aboard the Truth Aquatics boat on September 2 killed 34 people, despite the vessel having passed fire safety reviews.

That documentation as well as interviews with the surviving crewmembers, companies involved, first responders, and early witnesses to the devastating will be part of the investigation, Homendy said. Already, the team has been briefed by the Coast Guard and is “organizing their thoughts,” she said, for an all-team meeting tonight. It can take a year or two to finalize their report, she said, but a preliminary report could be released within 10 days. In the meantime, she said, they would not speculate on the cause of the fire.

Among the witness information they sought, said Homendy, were photographs or videos from members of the public that could help determine what happened. Send those to witness@NTSB.gov, she asked.

Homendy clarified that the Coast Guard would look into any enforcement actions stemming from the tragedy and would be conducting its own safety investigation in that regard.


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