Report: U.S. Coast Guard Considering Changes to Rules about How Passengers and Crew Sleep aboard Dive Boats

The U.S. Coast Guard is reportedly considering changes to rules governing how people will be permitted to sleep aboard maritime vessels.

The report comes on the heels of the Conception dive boat tragedy that killed 34 people in early September. All of the victims were asleep in a lower part of the ship when the fire broke out. The Conception’s six crew members were asleep as well, though federal regulations required at least one to stay awake and keep watch. reports that one of the changes the Coast Guard is considering would require both the ship’s captain and a deckhand to stay awake at night. 

Another proposed change would prevent people from sleeping side-by-side, as is common on many boats that have double bunk arrangements. The danger arises, the report says, because the double bunks abut a wall, and the person closest to the walls may have more difficulties escaping in the event of an emergency. 

Ken Kollwitz, owner of a dive California boat, said that as a result of the tragedy the cost of an excursion aboard a dive boat have already risen, “The one thing I can tell you: The cost of diving in California just went up dramatically,” he said. Kollwitz noted that a change in the sleeping regulations would reduce the capacity of his vessel, the 65-foot dive boat Magician, from 20 people to 14. This would further increase the cost of an excursion aboard the boats Kollwitz said.

Despite the potential increases in prices, changes must be made to prevent another tragedy like the Conception. Not all of the measures have to be costly. Kollwitz said that the owners of the Magician have upgraded smoke detectors, and changed policies relating to storing lithium batteries. Also, many boat owners in the area are retraining crew members in an effort to make their emergency response more automatic.