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Volume 3, Number 16, Page 2


February 2002


A meeting of the NOAA Diving Safety Board was held at the FKNMS Office in Key Largo, FL, January 08 - 10, 2002. Notes from these meeting will be mailed to all diving supervisors. Items of importance that were discussed include the following:

  • NDP Compliance with OSHA and USCG Diving Regulations - See separate columns.
  • Changes to NAO 209-123, NOAA Diving Regulations - Proposed changes were reviewed and discussed by Board members. Changes proposed by the Board are under review by the Director, NOAA Diving Program (DNDP) and James Arnold, NOAA Office of Financial Administration.
  • FY2001 Dive Incident Review - FY2001 NOAA diving incidents were reviewed. Basic details of dive incidents (accidents) involving NOAA divers will be forwarded to all NOAA diving supervisors for information purposes.
  • Requirements and Use of Alternate Air Sources - See separate column.
  • Requirements and Use of BCs with Dry Suits - See separate column.
  • Dive Locker Inspections - See separate column.
  • Development of NOAA Technical Diving Capabilities - The need for and development of these capabilities were generally discussed by the Board. The DNDP will create written guidelines to assist units in preparing proposals to do decompression, mixed gas, and/or deep diving.
  • Yearly Refresher Training - See separate column.
  • Observer Diver Guidelines - See separate column.
  • Dive Computer Testing - See separate column.
  • CCR Rebreather Testing - See separate column.
  • NOAA Diverís Handbook - See separate column. End of Article


A NOAA/USN Diverís Handbook is currently being compiled by Best Publishing (Publisher of the NOAA Diving Manual, 4th Ed.). This handbook is based largely upon the New NOAA Diving Manual and compiles useful field information in a waterproof format. A draft of this field handbook is expected in March 2002. End of Article


After correspondence and careful review of USCG diving regulations by Mr. Martin Freeman (NOAA legal counsel) and USCG representatives, it was determined that NOAA divers are not required to comply with these regulations . These regulations are essentially identical to OSHA regulations and are in affect from 3 - 9 nm (depending upon location) out to approximately 200 nm from the U.S. coast. Please contact the Diving Center if you have any questions regarding this policy change. End of Article



OSHA diving regulations, depending upon location, apply to NOAA diving operations out to 3 or 9 nm from the coastal U.S. Diving operations not falling under the OSHA scientific diving exemption should be conducted in a manner as to comply with OSHA diving regulations as well as with NOAA diving regulations.

Some NOAA working dives fall under the OSHA scientific diving exemption . Units may request clarification from the NOAA Diving Safety Board as to whether their NOAA working dives fall under this exemption. Unit Diving Supervisors should submit a detailed description to the Director, NOAA Diving Program, describing the operations and why these operations require specific scientific knowledge. (Why this task requires the knowledge and skills of a scientist versus an off the shelf commercial diver.) Contact the Diving Center if you have any questions regarding this process. End of Article



Buoyancy compensator use with dry suits is required by most other federal and state diving programs. All dry suit manufacturers recommend using a BC with their dry suit as a primary source of buoyancy. NDP does not prohibit the use of BCís with dry suits (unless their use poses a safety hazard with a particular suit design) nor does it currently require their use. NDC plans to conduct buoyancy testing of SEP issued dry suits to determine if buoyancy compensators will be required with some or all dry suits. Results of this testing will be used to determine if a NDP policy and/or SEP equipment change is in order. More to follow. End of Article

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