USCG Pushing Small Passenger Vessel Safety

The U.S. Coast Guard’s 11th Coast Guard District is conducting safety compliance checks on small passenger vessels operating off the California coast in an effort to raise safety awareness.

USCG members are checking to make sure that vessels are following the rules, including the assurance that passengers received verbal or written information about the vessel’s emergency plan before or at the start of a trip, that proper lifesaving and fire-fighting equipment are on board and updated and that the vessel contains the legal amount of passengers listed on the Certificate of Inspection.

“Our intent with these safety compliance checks is to bridge gaps that were identified following the fire onboard the passenger vessel Conception which resulted in the tragic deaths of 34 people,” said Rear Admiral Brian Penoyer, commander of 11th District. “We discovered that there are a number of operational requirements that are impossible to verify during a dockside annual inspection. The Coast Guard has been and continues to take deliberate steps to improve the safety of small passenger vessels in order to prevent future loss of life.”

The Conception sank off the coast of Santa Cruz Island, California in September 2019 after catching fire. All 33 passengers and one crew member died in the incident, making it one of the worst maritime disasters in over 100 years.

Passengers on small passenger vessels can report any unsafe conditions by contacting or calling (510) 437-3701.

By Karen Robes Meeks