D/V CONCEPTION caught fire and sank off the coast of California in 2019. The incident killed 34 people. On December 1, 2020, the captain of the Vessel was indicted on federal manslaughter charges under The Seaman’s Manslaughter Statute, codified at 18 U.S.C. § 1115.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, the captain was charged with 34 deaths caused by his misconduct, negligence, and inattention to duties. Three federal safety violations were cited: failure to assign a night watch or roving patrol, failure to conduct sufficient crew training, and failure to conduct adequate fire drills. Each of the 34 manslaughter counts carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if the captain is convicted.
Following the incident, the U.S. Coast Guard issued a Marine Safety Bulletin urging limits on the use of lithium-ion batteries and chargers aboard passenger vessels.
With offices in Bellingham and Seattle, WA, Portland, OR, and San Francisco and Los Angeles, CA, BoatLaw, LLP has represented commercial diver and vessel passenger clients for over forty years. The firm’s admiralty lawyers have a unique understanding of the dangers faced by mariners across the Pacific, Atlantic coasts, Gulf of Alaska, and the Bering Sea.