Conception Dive Boat Incident

9/5/2019 10:33 am – Conception Dive Boat Tragedy Vigil Set for Friday. Read full Press Release.

Local organizations are coming together to host a vigil for the community to gather, grieve, show support and be in company with one another. The vigil will take place from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m, Friday, Sept. 6, 2019 at Chase Palm Park (stage and lawn area), 323 E. Cabrillo Blvd., Santa Barbara, 93101.

“We recognize this tragedy has affected so many from within the community and throughout the world,” said Suzanne Grimmesey, chief quality care and strategy officer, County of Santa Barbara Behavioral Wellness Department. “This vigil is an important time for many to come together to grieve and heal.”

Representatives from the Community Wellness Team, the dive community, and chaplains from the faith community will offer words of condolences and support.

Event organizers include the City of Santa Barbara, the County of Santa Barbara, the Institute for Collective Trauma and Growth, Community Wellness Team and others.

Parking is available on the street and in the Garden Street and Palm Park lots. Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets or chairs.



Total Passengers: 39; including six crew members
Confirmed Fatalities: 20; 11 female, nine male
Rescues: Five crew members
Missing: 14

Of the fourteen, between four to six victims have been sighted under the water but were not able to be recovered yesterday. Ship stabilization efforts are underway today to facilitate recovery efforts with a goal of recovering all victims today.

Agencies involved:

United States Coast Guard; National Transportation Safety Board; Ventura County Sheriff; Santa Barbara County Sheriff Office/Coroner’s Bureau; Santa Barbara County Fire; Santa Barbara City Fire; Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol; Los Angeles County Sheriff; California Office of Emergency Services; San Luis Obispo County Sheriff; City of Santa Barbara Office of Emergency Services; Federal Bureau of Investigation; United States National Park Service; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Orange County Sheriff; and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The vessel “Conception” remains inverted on the sea floor in approximately 60 feet of water. To expedite search and recovery efforts the incident response is managed in six divisions including two Search and Recovery, Security, Morgue, Salvage and Pollution Mitigation.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office/Coroner’s Bureau:

  • The Coroner’s process to identify victims and notify family members is currently underway. The process involves verifying names on the manifest and crosschecking with DNA using swabs collected from family members.
  • DNA sampling is used to generate a DNA “fingerprint” that contains less than 200 characters of data and does not include any medical information. It is used for confirming possible familial relationships and respects the privacy all involved.

United States Coast Guard Actions:

  • Active search for survivors was suspended at 9:40 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, due to the lack of additional signs of life or distress; Coast Guard continues to work with partner agencies for recovery and investigation phases of the incident.
  • The search area covered 160 square miles and was accomplished in nearly 24 hours.
  • Eight Coast Guard crews participated in the search: four MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews from Air Station San Francisco’s Forward Operating Base Point Mugu, a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station San Diego, two 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crews from Station Channel Islands and an 87-foot Patrol Boat (the Coast Guard Cutter Narwhal) from Newport Beach.
  • The cause of the fire will be determined during the course of the investigation.
  • A salvage plan is being created to ensure safety of divers.
  • First mayday call was from Conception, subsequent calls from good Samaritan vessel Grape Escape.

Santa Barbara County Fire:

  • Santa Barbara County XSB Type III Incident Management Team with members from Santa Barbara County Fire Department and Santa Barbara City Fire Departments are supporting the incident.
  • One fire investigator and one oil and gas specialists are assigned to the incident.

National Park Service, Channel Islands National Park:

  • Incident occurred within Channel Islands National Park waters and involves a permitted business operator (Truth Aquatics), and park visitors.
  • Active in search, rescue and recovery efforts with 100- foot support vessel providing a platform for dive operations and recovery.
  • Six crew including rangers, dive officers, and biologists participated in recovery efforts and resource assessments.

Family Assistance Center:

  • Resources and information are available for family, friends, and loved ones of those involved in the Conception dive boat incident.
  • The FAC will be open:

9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3

9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4

The Conception incident Family Assistance Center, located at the Earl Warren Showgrounds, will be closing today, Sept. 4, 2019 at 5 p.m. Family, friends directly affected may call 24/7 Family Assistance Line at (805) 884-1604 for continued support and resources.

Community members impacted and seeking support following the Conception dive boat incident may call the Department of Behavioral Wellness 24/7 Access Line at (888)-868-1649.

Please note dates and times of the FAC may be extended or changed depending on community needs.

  • Agencies available to assist families include:
    • American Red Cross
    • Hospice of Santa Barbara
    • Local clergy and chaplains
    • Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness
    • Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office
    • City of Santa Barbara Police Department
    • Santa Barbara County Fire Department
    • Institute of Collective Trauma and Growth
  • Call Center line: (833) 688-5551
    • Open overnight tonight (Sept. 3) through tomorrow (Sept. 4). Schedule for remainder of the week to be announced.
  • Families are encouraged to use this resource.


At approximately 3:30 a.m., Monday, the U.S. Coast Guard and partnering agencies responded to a vessel fire off the north shore of Santa Cruz Island near Platt’s Harbor in Santa Barbara County.

Emergency responders encountered “Conception”, a 75-foot commercial diving boat based out of the Santa Barbara Harbor, fully engulfed in fire. The vessel sank to the ocean floor at approximately 7:20 a.m.

Family Assistance Center

Resources and information are available for family, friends, and loved ones of those involved in the Conception dive boat incident. This space is only for those directly affected.

Location: Earl Warren Showgrounds, 3400 Calle Real, Santa Barbara, Ca 93105

Hours of Operation

Tuesday (Sept. 3, 2019): 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Wednesday (Sept. 4, 2019): 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Thursday (Sept. 4, 2019): 9 a.m. – 6: 30 p.m.

Press Releases

9/4/2019 11:00 am – Santa Barbara County Sheriff – Coroner Releases Updated Numbers of Recovered Victims from the Conception Incident. Read full Press Release.

9/3/2019 12:18 pm – Family Assistance Center Open for Families of Conception Boat Incident. Read full Press Release.

9/2/2019 6:20 pm – At approximately 3:30 a.m., Monday, the U.S. Coast Guard and partnering agencies responded to a vessel fire off the north shore of Santa Cruz Island near Platt’s Harbor in Santa Barbara County. Read full Press Release.

Contact Office of Emergency Management

4408 Cathedral Oaks Rd., Santa Barbara, CA 93110
Phone: 805-681-5526