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General Information

The NOAA Diving Program

Credit: Hans Van Tilburg, NOAA
Photo Credit: Hans Van Tilburg, NOAA
The NOAA Diving Program, or NDP, is administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and is headquartered at the NOAA Diving Center in Seattle, Washington. The NOAA Diving Program trains and certifies scientists, engineers and technicians to perform the variety of tasks carried out underwater to support NOAA's mission. With more than 400 divers, NOAA has the largest complement of divers of any civilian federal agency. In addition, NOAA's reputation as a leader in diving and safety training has led to frequent requests from other governmental agencies to participate in NOAA diver training courses.

Averaging more than 15,000 dives per year, the NDP has consistently maintained an excellent diving safety record (99.97% safe dive statistic). This safety record is due to three guiding principles: 1) thorough training, 2) adherence to established standards and procedures, and 3) use of top quality, well maintained equipment. The NDP provides the means and leadership for adherence to these principles through its numerous training programs, administrative procedures, and Standardized Equipment Program (SEP). The SEP is a comprehensive equipment maintenance and distribution program, whereby all active NOAA divers are issued dive equipment by the NOAA Diving Center (NDC). The SEP, which includes yearly maintenance and testing of all equipment by factory-trained staff technicians, provides standardization of equipment for all NOAA diving units and ensures quality control. Since implementation in 1989, the SEP has increased diver safety significantly.

NOAA Diving Program Mission Statement

Vision Statement: “To lead the nation in the advancement of diving safety, education, training, innovation and execution of underwater operations in support of science, service and stewardship.”

Mission Statement: “To train, certify and equip scientists, engineers, and technicians, while promoting innovation of effective diving technologies, and safely performing underwater operations.”

Core Products and Services

  • To establish standards and implement procedures for conducting safe diving operations.
  • To train and certify scientists, engineers, and technicians in diving and medical-related subjects.
  • To provide safe and well maintained dive equipment.
  • To provide guidance and expertise to the diving community.
  • To investigate and implement new diving technologies and techniques.
  • To foster cooperative working relationships with other diving programs.
  • To promote NOAA and the NOAA Dive Program through educational outreach.
  • To provide equipment, personnel and expertise to NOAA field operations, as needed.

What NOAA Divers Do

NOAA divers work throughout the oceans and inland waters of the world in conditions varying from the crystal clear water of a pristine marine sanctuary to the murky and polluted water of a congested harbor. On any given day, NOAA divers may be seen deploying and retrieving scientific instruments, documenting the behavior of fish and other marine animals, performing emergency and routine ship repair and maintenance, assessing the impact of man on the environment, and locating and charting submerged objects. NOAA divers are currently assigned to the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, the National Weather Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the National Ocean Service, and the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. The NOAA Diving Program is responsible for overseeing and managing all NOAA diving personnel, equipment, and activities and ensuring that all diving is performed in a safe and efficient manner. The NDP, the NOAA Diving Safety Board, and the NOAA Diving Medical Review Board all work together to accomplish these objectives and to ensure the availability of properly trained divers to meet NOAA’s data acquisition requirement.


Where NOAA Divers Are Located

  • Auke Bay, AK
  • Galveston, TX
  • Honolulu, HI
  • Kodiak, AK
  • La Jolla, CA
  • Long beach, CA
  • Miami, FL
  • Milford, CT
  • Newport, OR
  • Panama City, FL
  • Pascagoula, MS
  • Sandy Hook, NJ
  • Santa Cruz, CA
  • Santa Rosa, CA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Silver Spring, MD
  • St. Petersburg, FL


  • Beaufort, NC
  • Chesapeake, VA
  • Honolulu, HI
  • Seattle, WA
  • Silver Spring, MD

  • Channel Islands NMS
  • Florida Keys NMS
  • Flower Garden Banks NMS
  • Gray’s Reef NMS
  • Monitor NMS
  • Monterey Bay NMS
  • NMS of American Samoa
  • Pacific Islands NMS
  • Papahānaumokuākea MNM
  • Stellwagen Bank NMS
  • Thunder Bay NMS
U.S. Map, Showing NOAA Dive Office Locations

  • Seattle, WA

  • NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada
  • NOAA Ship Fairweather
  • NOAA Ship Ferdinand Hassler
  • NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter
  • NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow
  • NOAA Ship Hi’ialakai
  • NOAA Ship Nancy Foster
  • NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer
  • NOAA Ship Oregon II
  • NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
  • NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
  • NOAA Ship Pisces
  • NOAA Ship Rainier
  • NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker
  • NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

  • Miami, FL

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A publication of the NOAA Dive Center, Office of Marine and Aviation Operations
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