U.S. Coast Guard safety rules for small boats are clear and unambiguous: Operators must have at least one crew member roving the vessel whenever passengers are in the bunk area, regardless of whether the vessel is docked or at sea.
When 34 people were killed in a fire early Labor Day morning aboard the diving boat Conception, investigators quickly concluded that all six crew members were asleep and that there was no roving watch during those critical hours when passengers were asleep below deck.
But now, there are growing questions about whether the operator of the Conception regularly had roving watches on its boats.
In interviews with The Times, two former captains for Truth Aquatics — which owns both the Conception and its sister boats, the Vision and Truth — said that when they operated the company’s boats they didn’t have formal roving watch schedules even though they were required by Coast Guard regulations. The Coast Guard required the watches as part of its inspection certification.
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