EMERYVILLE (KPIX 5) — In the wake of the Labor Day dive boat tragedy, concerns are being raised about passenger safety on chartered boats in San Francisco Bay.
When the U.S. Coast Guard does a safety inspection of a commercial passenger vessel, it is serious business. If it floats on the Bay and carries seven or more passengers for hire, a vessel must have a USGS Certificate of Inspection or COI.
Coast Guard. Lt. Athena Stricker is a Marine Safety Inspector Specialist. It’s her job to ensure vessels are safe before leaving the dock with passengers.
“The safety component, the lifesaving, we’re looking at the engine room — to name a few — the fixed fire systems in place, those portable extinguishers,” explained Strickler. “We’re talking to the captain and crew to ensure they know how to utilize the equipment on board.”
The charter fishing vessel Pacific Pearl was in harbor Wednesday for routing scheduled maintenance. It is a modern charter boat with state of the art safety equipment. Captain Andy Guikiano told KPIX 5 the Pearl is inspected every 12 months.
“So, an annual inspection would be done by the Coast Guard with a handful of their officers,” said Guikiano. “They’ll inspect life vests, all of your life saving equipment, your fire systems; anything that has to do with keeping people safe.”
The Pacific Pearl has an automated fire suppression system in the engine room. A large fire extinguisher will douse the entire engine bay if triggered. Another system shuts the engines down.
The boat’s Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons or EPRIB is another automated system that transmits to satellites if the boat is in trouble. The Pacific Pearl’s life raft is inspected; it can hold 20 people. The Pacific Pearl also has state of the art electronics.
“Somebody is installing a new radar system today too,” said Guiliano.
Coast Guard says most Bay Area charter boats are well equipped pass the inspection without issues.