31, 2006 — As an agency whose mission encompasses ocean and coastal
research, one of NOAA's greatest assets is the NOAA
Diving Program, headquartered at the NOAA
Dive Center in Seattle, Wash.
The NOAA Diving Program falls under the
NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations and is responsible for
training, equipping and certifying commissioned officers, scientists,
engineers and technicians to perform the variety of tasks carried out
underwater to support NOAA's
mission. With more than 500 active 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 and state agencies to participate in NOAA
dive training courses.
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.
Recent projects include, diving to study black
coral species in Hawaii, surveying the wreck of a submerged B-29
bomber in Lake Mead, Nev. (in conjunction with the National Park Service),
and documenting the spread of the invasive
Lionfish off the coast of North Carolina, all utilizing technical
National Ocean Service divers recently cleared
a shipwreck in Stellwagon Bank National Marine Sanctuary of dangerous
derelict fishing gear, making the wreck safe not only to recreational
divers, but also to indigenous species of the sanctuary. The NOAA
National Marine Fisheries Service divers have studied the eating habits
of the endangered Hawaiian
monk seal, even lifting up rocks under which the seals have foraged
to see what was on the menu for that day and deploying “electric
rocks” that track the frequency of seal feeding activities. Such
"up close and personal" observations are not possible when using
other methodologies, such as remotely
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 NOAA Diving Program,
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 and vessel
The NOAA Diving Program averages more than 14,000 dives per year, while
consistently maintaining an excellent diving safety record. This safety
record is due to three guiding principles: training, adherence to established
standards and procedures, and use of top-quality, well-maintained equipment.
The NOAA Diving Program provides the means and leadership for adherence
to these principles through its numerous training programs, administrative
procedures and Standardized
Equipment Program (SEP). The SEP issues, maintains, tests and tracks
all NOAA diving equipment. Since its implementation in 1989, the program
has increased diver safety significantly and there are currently 417 participants
in the program.
The NOAA Diving Center
functions as the administrative headquarters for the NOAA Diving Program
and serves as the primary training facility within NOAA for diving and
hyperbaric chamber operations.
Opened in 1989, the Center includes administrative offices, a modern classroom
with full audiovisual capability, dive equipment repair and storage areas,
a 40,000 gallon training tank (30 feet high by 15 feet wide), and three
fully-functional hyperbaric chambers (80", 60", 42" diameter).
Gas systems consist of a low-pressure air system for support of chamber
operations and surface-supplied diving, plus high pressure air and Nitrox
systems for scuba diving. The NOAA Diving Center also staffs and supports
two fully self-sufficient containerized chamber systems for use on NOAA
vessels or in shore based operations conducting diving in remote areas.
L-shaped staging pier partially encloses a 30-foot deep training basin
in Lake Washington, with deeper depths (greater than 200 feet) located
within one mile of the Center, and salt-water diving in the Puget sound
nearby, providing excellent facilities for open-water training of divers.
For nearly 50 years, NOAA and its predecessor agencies have been engaged
in undersea research. Many of
learned and technologies developed during this time have been adopted
by the recreational, scientific and military diving communities, thus
benefiting divers everywhere.
The experience of seasoned NOAA divers is reflected through their significant
contributions to the NOAA
Diving Manual, a comprehensive reference specifically designed for
the diving professional. The manual was first written in 1975; and the
edition is currently available. The diversity of the manual ranges
from polluted water diving procedures to saturation and underwater habitat
This invaluable aid is available to divers through the National Technical
Information Service Web site at http://www.ntis.gov/product/noaadive.htm,
or by contacting Best Publishing Company, 2355 North Steves Blvd., P.O.
Box 30100, Flagstaff, Arizona 86003; Tel: (800) 468-1055, ext. 10, or
(520) 527-1055; Fax: (520) 526-0370; E-mail: email@example.com
information visit NDP's Web site at http://www.ndc.noaa.gov
or contact Jeanne
G. Kouhestani, NOAA Office of
Marine and Aviation Operations, (301) 713-3431 ext. 220.
National Diving Program
Diving Program Video
Marine and Aviation Operations
NOAA National Undersea Research Program
MAKES SPLASH WITH NEW DIVING MANUAL
Diving Program: March 1999 Featured Platform
G. Kouhestani, NOAA Office of
Marine and Aviation Operations, (301) 713-3431 ext. 220