Conception dive boat captain indicted on 34 counts

Jerry Boylan, 67, was charged with 34 counts of seaman’s manslaughter for “misconduct, negligence and inattention” by failing to train his crew, conduct fire drills and have a roving night watchman on the Conception when fire broke out Sept. 2, 2019.

I really don’t know how to feel about this. Obviously the guy was negligent but so were the owners, the USCG & probably the majority of all other similar type boat operators. Is he the fall guy for a negligent industry or a professional mariner who was supposed to be held to a higher standard? I wouldn’t want to be on that jury. The less I think about those poor people who perished the better my mental health. IMO, he or somebody should be found or admitt guilt to something to bring some closure if nothing else.


I agree that he may have been negligent but that did not help the fact that the escape routes seemed to be far too small and that the passengers were crammed into one area… It also doesn’t help the fact there were no sprinkers. It doesn’t help the fact that the fire seemed to spread fast. How big was the crew and is any merchant ship crew really trained to fight a conflagration? Look at the months of training professional fire fighters go through. Would having a drill to fight a galley grease fire have changed the outcome, maybe the passengers would have better learned to escape in the dark and the smoke or maybe not? I believe if criminal charges are going to fly then the Captain should be the last in line for issues that caused the deaths. Having been a Master and having worked for a “good” company it is still hard sometimes to get management to realize that , yes, you need to fix this or do that to make this safer or better because well the USCG or the ABS say it is OK or grandfathered. The Captain doesn’t control the purse strings like they may have 200 years ago.


Does anyone know what paper he held? Sixpack? 500T? What paper did the rest of the crew hold? I’m guessing that they were hired more as dive guides than seafarers.

I’ll also guess that the Conception was uninspected.

Yes the captain was negligent, and he took an unsafe vessel to sea, with passengers, so charges are warranted, but the owners should be charged as well, and then the USCG needs to look at itself (but they won’t)

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He would have needed more than a six pack to run a boat with 33 passengers. He may have held a higher tonnage license but I think the boat required a 100T near coastal.

The first one.

  1. That’s not possible.
  2. The COI was posted in the original thread on the tragedy.

True, but that’s very unlikely.

As long as the owner complied with the legal requirements of the COI, the responsibility to conduct fire drills and assign a night watch falls on the master.

Which is why it’s unlikely, but the design of the guest quarters was patently unsafe and that’s not the captains fault.

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I agree about the design but unfortunately for the captain it won’t mitigate his responsibility for the tragedy in a court of law. I can’t imagine what mental hell he’s already gone through and the legal aftermath he’s dealing with.

The boat had a dangerous design.

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He was most likely a 100 grt master, and his mate or ‘second ticket’ on board most likely held the same. I’d be surprised anyone else was credentialed or had any formal firefighting training.
Conception was an inspected ‘T’ boat, and regardless of the design flaws for escape that have been passing with every COI renewal and inspection, there is no excuse for not having a deckhand up on anchor watch/rover. Its a customer oriented business with long hours well beyond a 12 hr day, but they had more than enough crew to work out a rotation.

Someone half asleep in the galley binge watching Netflix could have prevented this horrible loss of life.


Waiting for another dive boat to burn and then indicting the captain one count per death is not a good plan.


The lack of a watch is what is going to be the real sticky wicket here. It’s inexcusable.


Captain is in serious legal trouble, no doubt about that. People responsible should be held accountable.

I don’t think pointing out that other people besides the captain are responsible is making excuses. In fact the more the finger gets pointed at the captain the more the others escape scrutiny.


And US Coast Guard approved. . . .


Correct. The 65-year-old captain held a valid merchant mariner credential as a master of self-propelled vessels (not including auxiliary sail) of less than 100 gross register tons upon near coastal waters.
Conception’s second captain also held a Merchant Mariner Credential as Master less than 100 gross registered tons.

It was designed, the owners built the boat, then the USCG certified it then the Captain turned up.

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A post was merged into an existing topic: Dive Vessel Conception - NTSB Release Preliminary Report