The NOAA Diving Center (NDC) is the hub for training NOAA divers and is the administrative headquarters for the NOAA Diving Program.
The NOAA Diving Center:
- Trains scientists, NOAA Corps Officers, engineers, and technicians to carry out diving operations at NOAA.
- Provides personnel and expertise to NOAA diving units during field operations and unit safety inspections as needed.
- Participates in educational community outreach programs to promote NOAA and the NOAA Diving Program.
The NOAA Diving Center provides year-round training to NOAA and other government employees (federal, state and local) whose job requires them to dive. Courses are not open to the public. The diving classes offered at the NOAA Diving Center include but are not limited to:
- NOAA Diver and Divemaster courses
- Tethered communications diving
- Courses for diving medical technicians and physicians.
Diving instructors from NDC also travel to NOAA diving units across the country to offer individualized training on request. During January, when weather in Seattle is not conducive to training, NDC offers a NOAA Diver and Divemaster course in Florida.
Most Diving Center personnel work for the Diving Program and engage in a variety of activities outside of their instructional duties, such as participating in Diving Unit Safety Assessments (DUSA) to ensure divers are following safe procedures and their equipment is well maintained and fully functional. Center personnel also travel to various units to provide field mission support, such as providing hyperbaric operators or divers wherever expertise is needed to complete a working or scientific dive.
The NOAA Diving Center moved from the east coast to its present location at the NOAA Western Regional Center (WRC) in Seattle, WA in 1989. Administrative offices share space with classrooms, an equipment repair shop, dive lockers, and a small medical clinic for the Diving Medical Officers (DMO).
Facilities at NDC include a 38,000 gallon training tank (30 feet high by 15 feet wide) and an L-shaped staging pier on Lake Washington that partially encloses a 30-foot deep diving basin. Open water training is available in deeper depths of over 200 feet within one mile of NDC or in Puget Sound. There is no pool at WRC, however, classes use a local facility three miles away.
The NOAA Diving Center is equipped with two high pressure (HP) compressors used to fill scuba cylinders and HP storage flasks (air and Nitrox) and two low pressure (LP) compressors used to provide air for chamber operations, surface supplied diving, and to fill LP storage flasks. Three fully-functional hyperbaric chambers (84”, 60” and 42” in diameter) are housed on-site and used frequently during training. NDC is also equipped with two boats: the Dinsmore, a 28-foot boat custom built to use as a diving platform, and a 17-foot inflatable Zodiac. They are both used to support training and diving operations on Lake Washington, Lake Union, and Puget Sound.