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Diver Duties

Certification Requirements

Scientific Diver Certification
Working Diver Certification
Administrative Procedures
Observer Divers

Scientific Diver Certification

Divers trained by other organizations requesting NOAA Diving Program certification may be certified at the level of Scientific Diver. The purpose of this certification is to allow NOAA and non-NOAA employees to perform scientific research tasks as outlined in the OSHA Commercial Diving Regulations scientific diving exemption. Individuals seeking Scientific Certification must be scientists or scientists-in-training and may only complete underwater tasks consisting of observation and data collection. Construction and trouble shooting tasks traditionally associated with commercial and NOAA working diving, is prohibited.

Working Diver Certification

Divers trained by other organizations requesting NOAA Diving Program certification may be certified at the level of Working Diver. The purpose of this certification is to allow NOAA and non-NOAA employees to perform working dives in support of program missions. Individuals seeking Working certification must have completed a NOAA Working Diver training course or an accredited commercial or military diver-training program. Individuals with outside training must have logged a significant number of working dives as a commercial or military diver and are required to complete a NOAA sponsored or approved one-week training program.

The following policy, guidelines and administrative procedures will be followed when evaluating individuals trained by other organizations for Scientific and Working Diver certification:

Regulation - NAO 209-123 Section (5.14e)

e. Diving by Non-NOAA Certified Personnel.
Persons not included in a reciprocity agreement must submit in advance, evidence of diving training and full medical qualifications, as described in Section 5.15c. of this Order to the Line Office/NC Fleet Diving Officer, or their designee, who will evaluate this evidence with the standards required for NOAA certification to determine equivalence with a level of NOAA certification. Where sufficient doubt exists, this evidence shall be forwarded to the Director, NOAA Diving Program (DNDP) for a decision. In all cases only following medical approval, shall a checkout dive be observed by the Line Office Diving Officer/NC Fleet Diving Officer or their designee before beginning diving operations.

NON-NOAA trained personnel may receive NOAA certification following successful completion of the following:

1. Verification of diving training and experience. See Diving Resume. Applicants for Scientific certification must be certified from a nationally recognized training organization, (NAUI, PADI, etc.) at a level higher than a basic. Applicants for Working certification must have Commercial or Military dive training.
2. Verification of current First Aid, CPR and oxygen delivery training, (DAN)
3. Medical Examination (SF88 or NF 56-60)
4. Medical History (SF93 or NF 56-58)
5. NOAA Diver swimming/watermanship evaluation
6. Appropriate NOAA Diving written examination
7. Check-out dive(s) with UDS or designee

Regulation - NAO 209-123 Section (5.15b(b))

(b) Following approval of physical examination, each applicant shall demonstrate the following swimming exercises to the UDS, or their designee, showing a noticeable degree of confidence and good watermanship:

(1) Swim five hundred (500) yards, using the crawl, sidestroke, and/or breaststroke;
(2) Swim a distance of fifty (50) feet underwater without surfacing; and
(3) stay afloat for thirty (30) minutes

To be conducted without swimming aides or equipment in pool or open water.

See Swimming Evaluation Form to be completed by UDS or designee.

Regulation - NAO 209-123 Section (5.15e)

e. Written Examination. All applicants for NOAA certification shall pass a NOAA written examination. Passing score for each part shall be eighty (80) percent. Applicants failing any part must take a reexamination of the failed part and have a subsequent score of ninety (90) percent.

Written examination must be administered and proctored by the Unit Diving Supervisor or designee. Examinations will be sent to NDC for grading. Repeat examinations will be provided by NDC. The scientific examination is based on outside training agencies curriculum, (NAUI, PADI) with the exception of sections on the NOAA diving regulations and decompression problems based on the US Navy Air Tables. The test consists of 100 multiple choice questions on general diving knowledge, 20 questions on NOAA regulations and 15 decompression problems. The Working Diver examination is based on the NOAA Working Diver training program. The test consists of 200 multiple choice questions on general diving
knowledge and 25 decompression problems based on the US Navy Air Tables.

Regulation - NAO 209-123 Section (5.15f)

f. Diving Evaluation. The prospective divers must demonstrate their proficiency and skill in diving by making a checkout dive(s) with the appropriate training course supervisor or designee.

Initial checkout dive(s) should be conducted in a pool or shallow (10-15ft) confined area. Subsequent checkout dives shall be conducted in open water with candidate wearing full equipment (gear to be used during unit/project operations). Test and evaluation results will be documented on Report of NOAA Checkout Dive form (Acrobat file - 53KB). The structure of the checkout dive(s) shall follow the review items listed on the form.

Administrative Procedures

The UDS or designee will ensure the completion of the following Certification Review items in the prescribed order:

1. Verify training and experience of applicant. (Applicant must be current in CPR, 1st Aid, and Oxygen Delivery Training). See Diving Resume.
2. Physical exam completed by the candidate's physician of choice (per NOAA requirements) and approved by a NOAA authorized Hyperbaric Physician and/or
designee (NOAA Diving Center). See Medical Evaluation Checklist & Medical Criteria & Procedures.
3. Passing score on the NOAA Diving written examination.
4. Pass the NOAA diver swimming evaluation. See Swimming Evaluation Form.
5. Complete checkout dive(s) with applicant. See Report of NOAA Checkout Dive.

Based on the evaluation of the above criteria and the knowledge of the type of diving done by the unit, the UDS will determine if the applicant meets the requirements for a
Scientific or Working Diver certification. Additional training, if required, will be designated by the Line Office/Fleet Dive Officer and the Director, NOAA Diving Program.

The UDS will forward all appropriate documents with recommendations to the NOAA Diving Center (NDC). NDC will forward the documents to the Line/Fleet Diving Officer for review, who will forward to the DNDP with his/her recommendations. The DNDP will approve/disapprove the request and issue certification letters as appropriate.

Comparative Reference Tables:

Table I - Skin Diving Requirements
Table II - SCUBA Diving Certification and Requirements

UDS Equipment Request: SEP Transaction Form

Observer Divers

Representatives of other agencies, the media, and dignitaries frequently visit NOAA program sites for the purposes of familiarization, evaluation, or reporting on NOAA programs. Such visits often involve diving activities that are equivalent to recreational diving, and can be safely accomplished by persons holding recreational diving credentials. Personnel not certified by NOAA, in accordance with the requirements of this Order, may dive in conjunction with the activities of NOAA programs as "observing divers". This policy does not apply to NOAA employees who are required to dive as part of their regular duties.

Regulation - NAO209-123 Section 6.02

Persons who fall within the scope of this policy must provide the following to the NOAA UDS prior to participating in a dive:

a. Evidence of diving certification by a recognized diver certifying organization (NAUI, PADI, SSI, YMCA, or the U.S. Military, etc.)
b. Evidence of a physical examination conducted by a medical doctor within 12 months of the date of the planned dive. Report shall indicate medical fitness to dive.
c. Evidence of diving experience indicating the appropriate level of proficiency required for the diving conditions likely to be encountered.

The observing diver does not participate in work being performed and is accompanied by a fully certified NOAA diver who is not performing work. The dive is considered light duty, involving only observation or photography. The observing diver is participating in a single dive, or a series of dives on a single trip, with the total not to exceed 6 dives per year. See the NOAA Observer Dive Log.

Unit Diving Supervisor shall:

a. Inspect the credentials of the observing diver.
b. Determine if the observing diver's experience level and proficiency are adequate for the conditions likely to be encountered on the dive. The UDS or Divemaster shall conduct an in-water evaluation of the observer.
c. Inspect the observing diver's equipment for serviceability
d. Ensure that the observing diver is informed of the NOAA Diving Safety Rules and that those rules are complied with during the dive
e. Retain the authority to suspend the dive operation based on his/her judgment regarding the ability of the observing diver, the agency of the diver's equipment, or the conditions at the dive site.
f. Maintain file on the Observer diver as indicated in the regulations.



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