In essence, this was a hopeless situation, authorities said, because the ship was in such a remote location in the middle of the night with a fire that grew out of control.
"You couldn't ask for a worse situation," Brown told a news conference.
"This is probably the worst case scenario you can have," Brown said. "You have a vessel that is on the high seas, it's midnight. I mean it's 3:30 in the morning."
As of 07:20, the ship began to sink. It was burned to the water line, said Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason.
With the onset of the evening, only five people – crew members – were found alive by the 39 people who were on board when
20 were found bodies according to Brown, who spoke before the New York Times. More than a dozen are still extinct.
None of the people aboard the ship have been identified.
The search and rescue efforts for survivors will turn into a recovery mission on Tuesday morning, Eliasson told reporters Monday.
"Search and rescue efforts will be maintained by dawn tomorrow," Eliasson said. "Then we will make the ill-fated transition to recovery.
The five rescued crewmen were awake in the main cabin and were able to jump ship, but the boat was already completely engulfed in flames, said Coast Guard Capt. Monica Rochester. Nearby, a boat rescued them from the water.
The passengers were below deck, most likely asleep.
A May call revealed one side of a stabbing discussion between the Coast Guard and the Conception captain, and only the dispatcher's words were captured, but he gave a sense of panic. , which
After the captain clearly reported the fire and indicated the location, the dispatcher was heard saying, "And there are 33 people on board the vessel who cannot get out? … Roger, are the boats locked inside?" ? … Roger, can you go back on board and unlock the boat, unlock the door so they can get out? … Roger, you have no fire fighting equipment at all? No fire extinguishers or anything? "
Later in the conversation, the dispatcher asks," Was that all the crew that jumped out? … Roger, is the ship completely engulfed at the moment … Roger, and there is no escape hatch for any of the people "on board?"
At one point, the caller says, "I can't breathe."
Truth Aquatics, the company that manages the Concept, did not comment on CNN.
Rochester said the ship was in full compliance.
James Coles was in Oxnard, waiting to learn the fate of his brother, Mike Coles, the chef at the gallery and the head of conception, at 4:00 pm His brother, a lifelong surfer and father of one daughter, usually makes breakfast for passengers, said James Colts.
"It's very surreal at the moment," he told reporters. "They would let me know if he was one of the survivors who got away."
Firefighters have difficulty extinguishing the fire, Aaron Bemis told the Coast Guard before CNN because every time it was extinguished, it blazed back – possibly because of the fuel on board.
"We still hope someone can come ashore," Eliasson told CNN. "When it anchors at night, they are pretty close to shore. We have to hope, but we are planning the worst case scenario."
The boat was about 20 miles offshore, near Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Islands National Park. Authorities are looking for the coastlines of the islands for survivors, the coastguard said.
The cause of the explosion is unclear. Authorities said there were no signs of criminal activity.
"This is not a day we wanted to wake up for Labor Day, and it is a very tragic event," Rochester told a news conference.
"But I think we should all be ready to go for the worst result," Rochester said.
Karan Olson, Phil Gast Paul Verkammen of CNN, Elliott K. McLaughlin, Amanda Watts, Alan Aryux and Poppy Harlow contributed to this report.