NAO 209-123: NOAA Diving Program


.01 This Order establishes requirements, policies, responsibilities, and authorities for the development, implementation, and oversight of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Diving Program (NDP).

.02 The purpose of this order is to ensure all NOAA diving operations are conducted in a manner that will maximize protection of divers from accidental injury and/or illness.


.01 This Order applies to all NOAA employees engaged in diving activities during official duty hours (i.e., when receiving financial compensation for work performed) and Non-NOAA personnel performing dives under the direct supervision of a NOAA Divemaster or Lead Diver, where compressed gas is breathed in a hyperbaric environment.

.02 This order also applies to all diving activities conducted by NOAA divers and reciprocity partners, during official duty hours, regardless of the types of tasks performed underwater (i.e., working or scientific).


.01 NOAA diving operations shall be conducted in accordance with this Order, including all Safety Manuals authorized by this Order and all OMAO diving polices. All NOAA diving operations shall also be conducted in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) commercial diving regulations as codified in 29 CFR 1910 Subpart T, or applicable alternate standards approved by OSHA.

.02 A copy of this Order, and all Safety Manuals, shall be made available to all dive team members.

.03 NOAA divers may deviate from the requirements of this Order provided the deviation is necessary to prevent or minimize a situation which is likely to cause death, serious physical harm, total loss of property, or major environmental damage; and the Divemaster or Lead Diver notifies the NOAA Diving Program Manager (NDPM), Line/Staff Offices Diving Officer (LODO/SODO), NOAA Diving Safety Officer (NDSO) and Unit Diving Supervisor (UDS) of the deviation within 24 hours ofthe onset of the emergency situation (e.g., a situation whose immediacy precludes otherwise required consultation and approval by the NOAA Diving Control and Safety Board to prevent, minimize or address a critical, time-sensitive situation which is likely to cause death, serious physical harm, total loss of property, or major environmental damage.

.04 The NOAA Diving Control and Safety Board (NDCSB) may implement and enforce additional diving policies and standards than those stated herein, and in addition to applicable OSH Act standards. In no event shall any additional standard be applied in lieu of applicable OSH Act standards without meeting the requirements of29 CFR 1910.17.


.01 Director, Office of Marine and Aviation Operations.

.02 NOAA Diving Program Manager.

.03 NOAA Diving Control and Safety Board.

.04 NOAA Diving Safety Officer.

.05 Line and Staff Office Diving Officers.

.06 Deputy Line and Staff Office Diving Officers.

.07 Unit Diving Supervisors

.08 NOAA Diving Medical Officer


.01 Per section 4.03 ofNOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 200-3, titled NOAA Handbooks and Manuals, this Order authorizes the issuance of Safety Manuals to augment the policies, procedures, and guidelines in this Order and is intended to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the NDP by providing for the timely development and issuance of programmatic guidance to the NOAA diving community.

.02 Safety Manuals shall apply to all individuals and Programs involved with the NDP and have the same force, effect, and authority as this Order.

.03 The NDCSB shall update and maintain all Safety Manuals based upon recommendations from the greater NOAA diving community. Such recommendations shall be considered for implementation except in circumstances where the NDCSB believes the recommendation may hinder diver safety or program efficiency.

.04 Changes to Safety Manuals must be approved by a majority of the NDCSB voting members.

.05 The NDCSB shall request concurrence ofthe Director, Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (DOMAO), on all revisions to Safety Manuals that are potentially controversial and will advise the Director of any recommended revisions that are voted upon, but not approved by theNDCSB.

.06 Distribution of Safety Manuals may be accomplished in both paper and electronic form. The paper version will be in a form that allows for ease of updating. Updates will be distributed

.07 The NOAA Diving Center shall maintain a list of officials and organizations to receive a printed copy of the Safety Manuals and shall ensure that electronic versions are accessible on-line via the NOAA Diving Center (NDC) webpage.

.08 Information to be included in the Safety Manuals shall include, but is not limited to:


.08 Divers shall be certified by the DNDP and shall be sufficiently trained to undertake assigned diving tasks. Divers shall be accountable for NOAA-issued equipment and shall:

.09 NOAA Diving Instructors shall be designated by the DNDP as required for program needs. NOAA Diving Instructors shall be experienced in their instructional areas and shall carry out duties as directed by the DNDP or designee.


This order supersedes NAO 209-123, NOAA Diving Program, dated May 2, 2003

Singed, William Broglie | Chief Administrative Officer

Office of Primary Interest:
Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO)