Volume 1, Number 10, Page 2


September 1998


The 1998 Monitor Expedition Operations Plan was reviewed by the NOAA Diving Safety Board and approved with the following provisos:

1. Diving operations must be conducted in compliance with the dive plan outlined in the 1998 Research Expedition to the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary Operations Manual dated April 1998.

2. All divers must have a current NOAA or AAUS diving physical.

3. All divers must be trained and certified by NOAA or a nationally-recognized diver training agency for the specific type of diving to be performed (i.e. Trimix – ANDI, IANTD or TDI; Nitrox – NOAA, ANDI, IANTD, TDI; Air – NOAA, NAUI, PADI, SSI etc.).

4. All trimix divers must have completed at least one dive to a minimum depth of 190 FSW on trimix within three weeks of planned dives to the Monitor wreck. All other divers must have completed at least one dive within the previous six week period.

5. The “rule-of-thirds” (one-third to get to the dive site, one-third to reach the first decompression stop, and one-third reserve) must be followed on all trimix dives.

6. Only NDP-approved gas mixtures and decompression tables shall be used during the operation. All gases used for diving must be of breathing quality and analyzed for oxygen percent by each individual diver prior to its use.

7. No dives will be conducted in an overhead environment.


8. The Standby Diver should dive on air rather than trimix. Having a standby diver on a gas mixture that requires decompression on every deployment places the diver in a liability situation. The Board recommends that another diver, outfitted with trimix and prepared to descend to the bottom, be ready to enter the water within one minute, should the Standby Diver indicate a need.

9. Planned Activities and Detailed Methodology (Section 5.2) should be clearly delineated as to which is to be performed by the NOAA team and which by US Navy personnel.

10. Signaling procedures should be developed that differentiate between routine operations (i.e. drift decompression on lift bags) and life-threatening emergencies (i.e. diver entangled in the wreck). Perhaps something as simple as attaching a diver’s slate to the SMB or lift bag prior to deployment to indicate a routine operation could be utilized.

11. Excavation using a Diver Propulsion Vehicle (DPV) inside the turret must be practiced in shallow water prior to using the technique at the Monitor.

12. In keeping with provisions of the OSHA scientific diving exemption, recovery of artifacts by divers wearing self-contained diving equipment should be limited to objects weighing 50 lbs. or less. Diver’s breathing gas (other than exhaust) must not be used to fill lift bags for artifact recovery.

13. A dedicated chase boat must be in the water during all diving operations from the KELLY CHOUEST or NOAAS FERREL.

14. The NOAA Diving Center has contracted Dr. R. W. Hamilton, to develop a new set of trimix decompression tables, based on 50% helium, 17% oxygen, and 33% nitrogen. Assuming the tables are completed prior to the start of the operations, they are to be used in lieu of the tables developed for past missions.End of article

Class photograph of the Working Diver and Divemaster class conducted September 14 to October 2, 1998. Participants are from NMFS Sandy Hook and Santa Rosa Labs, NOAA ships MILLER FREEMAN, RONALD BROWN and KA‘IMIMOANA, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, King County Sheriff and Snohomish County Sheriff.
Class Photograph

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