Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Poll: Who is responsible for divers in the water?

In full disclosure, a few of us here at Neutral Dive Gear know and dive with Captain Ray Arntz aboard the Sun Diver. We know Ray quite well and have never had an issue with the manner in which he runs his vessel.

That said, his recent testimony does bring up an interesting question: who is ultimately responsible for divers in the water?

The captain of a charter boat that left a scuba diver seven miles off Newport Beach in 2004 said Wednesday that it wasn't his job to make sure all the divers were back on board.

Scuba diver Daniel E. Carlock, 51, filed a $4 million lawsuit against Ocean Adventures Dive and Sun Diver Charters in January 2005.

Capt. Ray Leslie Arntz, 62, testified that his job was to steer the Sundiver, not oversee who left and returned during the voyage.

"I would probably not have that knowledge," Arntz testified. "My job was to navigate the vessel and keep it from getting too close to the rig."

Arntz said that keeping track of all the divers was the job of on-board divemaster Zacarias Araneta and Andy Huber, the divemaster for those in the water.

Araneta testified last week that when he took roll call, someone answered for Carlock.

So, with whom do you believe the responsibility lies: the dive master(s) or the boat captain?

Leave us a comment with your answer and perhaps some insight as to why you voted the way you did.

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8 comments:

Anonymous said...

The captain is correct - his job is the boat, crew and passenger safety. The Divemaster is ultimately responsible for the divers.

It is easy to "monday night quarterback" but clearly the divemaster did not follow the rules of auditory and visual confirmation.

That is to say, when you are calling role, you must look at the person after hearing them say they are on board. I would love to hear from others...

Anonymous said...

In this particular case the Dive Shop chartered the boat and provided the dive masters. Although by maritime law the ultimate responsibility for the safety of the passengers is the captains, in this case the chartering shop took it upon themselves to provide the diver safety personnel. There was a roll call performed (inadequately) and the captain was told that all divers were aboard. The captain did his job, the DM did not.

That being said, I do not believe that any of the local So Cal boats have anyone but boat personnel do the roll calls any more. Most have become much more dilligent about checking divers in and out and doing roll calls.

Howard Cunningham said...

I have had several talks with friends that are captains about this matter. The captain is responsible for everyone on the boat and their safety while they are on the boat, once they hit the water they are the responsibility of the DM(s). If they had fallen off the boat on the way back in the Capt. would be responsible. A simple head count before or after roll call or a tag in/tag out system would have prevented this.

Mark Glesne said...

I certainly fall in the camp that believes Captain Ray is correct for reasons already stated in comments above. This incident falls on the shoulders of the dive master(s) involved, not the boat's Captain.

Personally, I think the impetus behind the lawsuit is frivolous at best -- only serving as a get-rich-quick scheme, rather than any true search for justice.

pjkoehler said...

One's understanding of this matter is not helped by a muddled debate by uninformed divers on the internet. The legal obligations of a dive boat captain to the passengers/divers is a legal issue that relies on Federal statutory law, a long history of admiralty and USCG regulations.

Among the many things Ray knows, he knows full well what these obligations are. Like any experienced captain, he occaissionaly has divers on board whose whose inept conduct results in the scrutinty of his actions.

Phil Koehler
Attorney, Diver and 100-Ton USCG Captain

Uninformed diver on the internet said...

One's understanding of this matter is not helped by a muddled debate by uninformed divers on the internet.

Pompous and condescending, just like an attorney.

Anonymous said...

A Captain can delegate authority but he can not delegate the responsibility.

He had better trust those he gives authority, this case demonstrates that trust was misplaced.

Used Sporting Equipment said...

Scuba diving could be so interesting and fun.... Enjoy!