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Utility Navigation

Vessel Chartering Info

The Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO), through its Safety and Environmental Compliance Division (SECD), provides regulatory oversight and is responsible for coordinating and monitoring charter vessel activities throughout NOAA. Outsourcing and procurement activities to obtain charter vessel services are performed by various Line Offices on a regular basis. OMAO provides technical guidance and assistance to ensure charter vessels maintain appropriate levels of safety and reliability, and coordinates reporting procedures throughout NOAA regarding charter vessel use.

The most common requirements affecting the procurement of charter vessel services include:

  • Duration of the charter
  • Area and location of charter vessel operations
  • Number of persons in the scientific party
  • Minimum equipment carriage requirements in accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations (CFRs) and/or the vessel’s valid Certificate of Inspection (COI) or U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Letter of Designation stating the vessel is approved for oceanographic research operations

Critical documentation requirements include:

  • Vessel's size
  • Tonnage
  • Endurance
  • Age
  • Intended service
  • Licensed personnel and qualifications of crew members
  • Stability information
  • Inspection and classification requirements
  • Firefighting and lifesaving capabilities of the vessel

OMAO is presently developing a policy specifying minimum safety standards for vessels chartered by NOAA. In addition, we are making concise procedures for requestors and contracting officers so charter requests can be processed expeditiously.

Until this has been released, please contact Kevin Ivey (Office: 301-713-7706) regarding questions about charter vessel clearance requests.

OMAO gathers information regarding NOAA's planned charter vessel activities via NOAA Form (NF) 57-11-02.

Expedited Procedures for Submitting Charter Vessel Clearance Requests

A minimum of 10 business days is required to process a clearance request.

Step 1

Principal Investigators (PIs) must fully complete and sign NOAA Form NF 57-11-02.

Step 2

In addition to the completed form if you have a vessel in mind to perform the charter we recommend to send paper or scanned copies of any and all of the following pieces of supplementary documentation. Doing this will greatly decrease the time needed to process your clearance request. To determine the correct regulatory requirements applicable to your vessel, use the Vessel Charter Requirements Flowchart (OMAO , pdf, 181.88 KB) .

  • If the vessel has a USCG Letter of Designation (LOD) please provide a scanned or paper copy
  • If the vessel has a USCG Certificate of Inspection (COI) please provide a scanned or paper copy
  • If the charter company is providing the crew, please submit copies of all Merchant Mariner Credentials for the Master as well as credentials for an additional operator for voyages longer than 12 hours (personal data such as address can be blanked out)
  • If NOAA personnel are performing duties as an operator (allowed only under specific circumstances) please supply documentation confirming operator training was completed in accordance with the NOAA Small Boat Standards and Procedures Manual (NSBSPM)
  • Please submit copies of any completed USCG Uninspected Passenger Vessel Examinations (UPV) for this vessel
  • If it is a Fishing Vessel we need confirmation that the Certificate of Documentation and Fishing Vessel Safety Decal are not expired. This information may be obtained by plugging into a search engine the words “USCG PSIX Vessel Search”. Once inside the USCG website, enter the vessel’s data, pull up the record, and print.

Step 3

The signed copy of the form and requested supplementary documentation must be submitted to OMAO by mail, fax, or email. Ten business days are required to receive an approval decision which starts the day the clearance request is received by OMAO. Emailed copies must be scanned to a resolution such that the signature data is legible or digitally signed using a software application that supports such features, i.e. Adobe.


Fax: 301-713-1577 (ATTN: SECD – Kevin Ivey)

Mail: Office of Marine and Aviation Operations
ATTN: SECD / Kevin Ivey
8403 Colesville Road, Suite 500
Silver Spring, MD 20910

We will contact you to discuss any problems with your request in the interim.

Step 4

For all charter requests approved by OMAO, the Principal Investigator shall develop a cruise plan. This plan shall establish a definitive tracking and communication procedure that requires the vessel to report its position and operation to a program manager at least daily. The plan shall be retained by a responsible NOAA office ashore during the time the cruise is in progress.

Step 5

The PI must submit an updated NF 57-11-02 (Charter Vessel Services Report) to the Contracting Officer within 30 days after the completion of the charter to reflect actual costs and number of days. This is necessary because often there are add-on costs or additional days that were not accounted for in the original arrangements thereby changing the original estimated cost. This data is necessary so that Contracting Officers can provide charter days and costs to frequent requesters such as NOAA management, Inspector General Office, and congressional inquiries.

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Reviewed: September 27, 2016. Contact us with page issues.

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