Conception salvage plans include underwater video evidence – KEYT
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The investigation into one of the worst boating tragedies in the history of the Santa Barbara Channel is above and below the surface by Santa Cruz Island where the dive boat Conception caught on fire Monday morning.
34 on board died. 33 bodies have been recovered.
Dive teams from several agencies in Southern California, along with the FBI, are combining their efforts with a salvage crew to secure what’s left of the vessel, which had a massive loss of its structure and sunk in 65 feet of water about four hours after the fire started.
They have been using underwater cameras in very difficult conditions to retrieve the victims and preserve the vessel.
“That documentation is occurring with side-scan sonar, so that they are mapping the wreckage before it is moved. We want as much video and digital images as we can get before that vessel is moved. We are hopeful that will be able to be raised soon. We understand there are efforts underway to salvage it,” said Jennifer Homendy with the National Transportation Safety Board.
The Los Angeles Port Authority has also sent in a large vessel, equipped with underwater cameras, to join allied agencies.
On shore at the Sea Landing dock, investigators are taking a close look at the Vision boat – which is normally docked next to Conception.
“Vision is a similar vessel, it is not a sister vessel. It is not the exact replica, but it is a similar vessel to Conception in, what that means is, that some things may be arranged differently but it is pretty close and I wanted to lay eyes on the vessel and get a sense of the layout,” Homendy said.
Nearby, there is a special area with tents and equipment that will be used in the operation.
A portion of the harbor parking lot has been secured for this work which will take several days under the coordination of the NTSB, the FBI, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, U.S. Coast Guard and allied agencies.
With 33 bodies recovered, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Coroner’s office is using additional equipment including a special large refrigeration truck from Los Angeles for the number of victims involved.
A vigil for the victims of the Conception tragedy is planned for Friday at Chase Palm Park.