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Monday, October 29, 2018
Disaster strikes the Prowler


Dive boat Conception lost in fire, 34 passengers feared dead
BY PAUL LEBOWITZ

WON Staff Writer

UPDATED September 3, 2019 9:40AM

Authorities announced the recovery of 25 bodies, victims of the Conception disaster. A further 9 remained listed as missing but hopes were fading.


SANTA BARBARA — The 75-foot dive boat Conception out of SEA Landing was lost early Monday morning due to an uncontrollable fire that engulfed the boat while it was in Platts Harbor on the north side of Santa Cruz Island.


Five crewmembers were rescued by the pleasure craft Grape Escape, but 34 passengers who were believed to be asleep in the boat’s main berthing area were initially reported missing. A preliminary search of the wreckage found four bodies. Although authorities embarked on a search for the remaining passengers, hopes were dim.


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LOST AT SEA — The dive boat Conception burned and sank just offshore of Santa Cruz Island early Monday morning. Very little information was available by press time. Four bodies had been recovered, and the rest of the 34 passengers were missing, but hopes were faint.

Very little information was available by press time. Photos taken by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department showed the fire burned to the waterline. U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson Capt. Monica Rochester said the remains of the boat sank in 64 feet of water some 24 yards from shore.


The Coast Guard received a mayday call from an unidentified Conception crewman at 3:30 a.m. During the garbled transmission, he said there were 39 people onboard and that he couldn’t breathe.


The Conception was on the final day of a 3-day trip and was due back in port in Santa Barbara at 5 p.m. The boat, launched in 1981, is owned and operated by Truth Aquatics, a dive company that has offered trips to the Channel Islands since 1974. The company’s two other boats are the Truth and the Vision.


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