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Utility Navigation

Marine Operations

Shipboard Policy

All NOAA ships sail under the General Shipboard Policy. Policy specific to the Ronald H. Brown are detailed below.

Staffing and Chain of Command

Standing Order 9.1: This vessel is commanded by a commissioned officer of the NOAA Corps, a uniformed service of the United States. The complement is composed of commissioned officers, USCG licensed mates, USCG licensed Wage Marine engineer officers, unlicensed Wage Marine employees, and General Schedule employees. All employees are subject to the authority of the CO or his designated representative as provided under Title 33 of the U.S. Code.

The CO is responsible to the Director, Marine Operations Center for:

  • The efficient and safe performance of all operations undertaken
  • The lives, comfort, and morale of all personnel
  • The property and equipment assigned to the ship

This responsibility is inescapable and the CO's authority is absolute except when, and to the extent, relieved therefrom, by competent authority or as provided otherwise by regulation. In addition, the CO is responsible for ensuring the proper performance of the shipboard scientific operations undertaken in coordination with the embarked Chief Scientist.

The CO has authority over all embarked personnel at all times when they are aboard ship, in the ship's boats, or on duty ashore. Any "lawful" order issued within the command chain (CO, XO or Officer of the Deck (OOD)) must be followed. Heed instructions from anyone above your position. This command will support all efforts by Department Heads and others in this structure to enforce applicable regulations relating to personal conduct, safety, the ship's normal routine, and provisions of applicable Federal law.

Following the chain of command fosters improved communication, rapid resolution of problems at the lowest level of supervision, improved efficiency, and allows supervisors the necessary latitude to manage their own departments. To preserve the chain of command, embarked scientific personnel are requested to make any requests for direct assistance of the crew through the respective Department Head, FOO or XO. Individual members of the scientific party shall not directly assign work to any member of the ship's operating crew. Such assignment of work is the responsibility of the shipboard supervisors. Requests for any assistance will be promptly and expeditiously addressed.

Please Note: As a U.S. Government commissioned vessel, all persons boarding give an implied consent to conform with all safety and security policies and regulations which are administered by the Commanding Officer (CO). All spaces and equipment on this vessel are subject to inspection or search at any time. Additionally, the following is prohibited aboard any U.S. Government vessels: possession and/or use of intoxicating alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs, controlled drugs without a prescription, sexual harassment, or use of shipboard spaces for purpose of sexual liaison. Violator may be removed from the vessel at the earliest opportunity.

Quarters and Berthing

Standing Order 9.18: Individual quarters are off limits to all personnel except those to whom the space is assigned, their guests, or those who are carrying out assigned duties involving that space. It is the policy of this Command that staterooms occupied by members of one sex are off limits to members of the opposite sex. Exceptions to this policy shall be that personnel, when invited, may visit staterooms occupied by members of the opposite sex provided the stateroom doors are secured in the open position for the duration of the visit.

Staterooms are routinely inspected during monthly Command Inspections, but may be inspected at any time by the Commanding Officer, in the performance of his duty.

This ship complies with NOAA policy on Scientific Berthing. There are a maximum of 30 berths available to the scientific complement and 28 berths available to the ship's operating crew. The Chief Scientist for each embarked project is responsible for the assignment of these berths to members of the embarked scientific party. The berthing allocation is as follows:

The following rooms are reserved for science berthing:

  • All rooms on the 03 deck except the Commanding Officer’s stateroom (9 bunks)
  • One 3-person stateroom on Level 2

There are 18 two-person staterooms on the ship. When the ship is fully manned, there will be one crewmember in all of these staterooms. Scientists will be assigned to these rooms according to the rank of the crewmember. For example, if there are 20 scientists, the first 12 will fill up the science rooms, and the remaining 8 will be assigned to share rooms with the 8 lowest-ranking crewmembers.

Senior crew members will not be assigned roommates until the staterooms of lower-ranking crew members are filled.

In the event the ship is not fully manned, those bunks which would normally be occupied by crew members will be assigned to scientists.

The chief scientist shall contact the Operations Officer for the gender distribution of the crewmembers prior to making room assignments.

Occupants of the individual rooms shall be of the same gender, however, it is likely that the adjoining heads will be shared with the opposite gender.

The rooms are relatively small so please be selective with the amount of personal gear you bring aboard. Each person is assigned a locker and several dresser drawers. Stowage for large personal items, including luggage, is available in one of the ship's several storerooms. Be considerate of your roommate and neighbors. Refrain from slamming doors and making unnecessary noise in the passageways and living quarters as off-watch personnel are normally sleeping. Do not play televisions, radios, CD players, etc. so loudly that it disturbs nearby shipmates. Judicious use of head phones is encouraged.

Personnel should remove foul weather gear and soiled clothing and footwear before entering rooms. Each member of the operating crew and the embarked scientific party must accept individual responsibility for the cleanliness and orderliness of assigned living quarters and head facilities. Cleaning supplies and equipment are available in all berthing areas for use in maintaining quarters in a clean and sanitary condition. The Chief Scientist is responsible for ensuring that all dedicated scientific berthing is left to the succeeding science party in the manner in which it was received. The operating crew is not responsible for the cleanliness and sanitary condition of scientific berthing and head facilities. Failure to properly clean rooms has resulted in charges for hiring of cleaning services such as carpet cleaning.

All internal spaces are temperature controlled by a centralized air conditioning and heating system. The system is extensive and complex, with zone-by-zone and room-by-room control. If the ventilation or air conditioning in your room or working space seems to not be operating or not controlled by the pertinent thermostat, please inform your Chief Scientist. Do not resort to system defeating measures like blocking vents. Be aware of ship's air conditioning boundaries and leave these doors shut at all times.

The ship's policy is that the departing scientific team can stay berthed aboard through the day of arrival and the oncoming team can move aboard mid-afternoon prior to departure. If you arrive early, staying at a nearby hotel is the recommended course. Please allow the departing team time to offload and the ship's force to prepare the vessel for your arrival. Upon arrival in a foreign port or upon return to a U.S. port from abroad, no member of the scientific party may leave the ship prior to the completion of customs and immigration.

Possession or Use of Alcohol or Illegal Drugs

This policy applies to all ships in the NOAA fleet, see General Shipboard Policy Information.

Sexual Harassment

This policy applies to all ships in the NOAA fleet, see General Shipboard Policy Information.

Smoking Restrictions

This policy applies to all ships in the NOAA fleet, see General Shipboard Policy Information.

Policy for the Ronald H. Brown:

Smoking is prohibited:

  • On any part of the weather decks when the vessel is fueling or taking on flammable cargo.
  • In the vicinity of any compressed gas cylinder carrying a flammable gas sticker, which may be stored on deck for the use of the embarked science party
  • During certain types of scientific missions or in the immediate vicinity of sensitive science mission equipment

Underway Shipboard Emergencies


This policy applies to all ships in the NOAA fleet, see General Shipboard Policy Information.

Abandon Ship

This policy applies to all ships in the NOAA fleet, see General Shipboard Policy Information.

Man Overboard

Witnessed Man Overboard-Actions of the Witness

This policy applies to all ships in the NOAA fleet, see General Shipboard Policy Information.

Procedure for the Ronald H. Brown:

Upon observing a person going overboard, the witness shall take the following actions:

Call out for assistance and throw a life ring buoy into the water, preferably one equipped with a strobe light. Pass the word to the Bridge by any means possible including dialing extension 125 (Bridge) or by depressing the "page" button on the ship's phone system and announcing "Man Overboard."

Wait about one minute and throw a second life ring buoy (at night - one equipped with a strobe light) into the water. This will create a visual range for the OOD and the lookouts, aiding the search effort.

Keep the victim under surveillance if at all possible, but do not delay passing the word to the Bridge.

Unwitnessed Man Overboard

This policy applies to all ships in the NOAA fleet, see General Shipboard Policy Information.

Drills at Sea

This policy applies to all ships in the NOAA fleet, see General Shipboard Policy Information.

Information for the Ronald H. Brown: Liferaft locations:

Liferafts 1, 3, 5, 7 - Starboard side, 02 Level (Van Deck), forward of RHIB

Liferafts 2, 4, 6, 8 - Port side, 02 Level (Van Deck)

Working on Deck

This policy applies to all ships in the NOAA fleet, see General Shipboard Policy Information.

Procedure for the Ronald H. Brown:

Wear proper shoes when working on deck. Sandals or any type of open-toed, open-heeled footwear that cannot be securely fastened to one's feet are unsafe and are not allowed for deck work. Steel-toed shoes are not a requirement but shoes with good traction are advisable.

If you don't have any business in the immediate area of operations then stay out of the way.

Pick up, clean up and securely stow all loose gear after each use. Do not walk away from any piece of loose equipment -- even if it is not yours - tie it down.

A flotation work vest must be worn when working near the edge of the ship.

Hardhats should be worn when equipment is lifted overhead.

Permission from the bridge is required before putting ANYTHING over the side.

Working Hours

Standing Order Section 9.9: When the vessel is underway, both the navigation and engineering watches will conform to the standard three watch section arrangement. Two watches of four hours each shall constitute the regular work day for watchstanders. These watchstander working hours shall be 0000-0400/1200-1600, 0400-0800/1600-2000, 0800-1200/2000-2400, as defined on the posted Underway Watch Bill.

Meal Hours and Use of the Ship's Mess

Standing Order Section 9.12: Meal hours, at sea and in port, are as follows:


Breakfast 0700-0800

Lunch 1100-1200

Dinner 1630-1730

Any changes in the meal hours will be posted by the Executive Officer. Only clean clothing may be worn in the Ship's Mess during meal hours. Tank tops, hats, abbreviated shorts, and swimming attire will not be permitted.

Meals prepared in the Galley shall only be consumed in the Ship's Mess. The ship's Lounge, Library, and staterooms are not food service areas, and shall not be used as such. Snack foods (popcorn, candy, fruit, etc.), soft drinks, coffee, and tea are permitted in the Lounge. Individuals snacking in the Lounge are responsible for ensuring that their litter and trash are promptly and properly disposed of.

All hands shall refrain from using non-paper cups and glasses in the Lounge. The Ship's Mess is furnished with suitable paper products for use in the Lounge. Spills should be dealt with promptly by those responsible to preserve the condition and appearance of the carpet. The bottom line is: if you mess it up, you clean it up. Between meal hours, dirty dishes and utensils should be hand cleaned and neatly placed in the scullery. This will assist Steward's Department personnel with clean-up.

The mess deck has seating for 30 people -- this is only half of the ship's full complement. Personnel should not loiter after meals. Watchstanders are customarily served first. All personnel are expected to bus their own dishes and clean up after themselves. Plastic glasses are to remain in the galley area. Do not throw food wastes in just any trash container. Any special eating schedule for scientific watchstanders should be worked out between the Chief Scientist and FOO.

Medical Care

Standing Order 9.14: Due to the ship's long deployments, the Medical Officer assigned to the ship is a US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps nurse. The Medical Officer is available at any hour of the day to provide emergency medical care as required. Regularly scheduled sick call will be held in the ship's hospital from 0800 - 1100 daily and patients will be seen on a first-come/first served basis; however, patients with acute conditions will take priority. Do not hesitate to contact the Medical Officer at any hour of the day to receive treatment for an injury or illness, no matter how slight it might appear.

The ship's hospital is equipped with a complete inventory of modern medical equipment and stocked with a wide range of medications and supplies. Several members of the ship's operating crew are certified Emergency Medical Technicians or are certified in CPR/first-aid and may assist the Medical Officer as required. Should additional medical expertise and advice be required, a medical advisory service can be contacted at any hour of the day. This service provides physicians specialized in emergency medical care who are immediately available to provide consultation, advice, and if necessary, medical evacuation coordination services.

In addition to routine and emergency medical care, the Medical Officer provides wellness services on an individual and confidential basis. Available services include:

Blood pressure, diabetes, and general health assessment and monitoring.

Weight management information and support.

Substance abuse information and support.

Smoking cessation information and support.

Stress management and mental health information.

General medical and wellness information and advice upon request

There are numerous first-aid kits distributed throughout the ship. Notify the Medical Officer if their use is required.

One of the least pleasant aspects of going to sea is the possibility of seasickness. Information concerning seasickness can be found in the General Shipboard Policy Information.


Standing Order 9.15: The ship is your home for the duration of your stay. When the vessel is in port, you are encouraged to bring visitors aboard and to show them around. However, to maintain security and safety and to assist in preserving the privacy of all who live aboard the ship, the following guidance is provided:

All visitors must be accompanied by their host when aboard the ship.

Visitors are to be met at the brow by the host and accompanied on board. At no time is it proper for unescorted visitors to be roaming about on the ship.

Unless permission has been granted by either the CO or XO, no visitors may remain aboard between the hours of 2200 and 0800.

The behavior of a visitor will be the responsibility of his/her host. Any visitor acting inappropriately will be asked to disembark by the OOD.

Visitors will not be permitted:

In machinery spaces without the approval of the CME or engineering duty officer and only when accompanied by a member of the ship's operating crew;

In berthing areas outside of that area in which the host resides; and

In store rooms, workshops, and other areas normally considered outside the definition of community and scientific spaces.

Restricted Areas

Standing Order 9.16: For reasons of safety and/or accountability, certain areas on the ship are restricted except for personnel assigned specific duties in them. These areas are:

Restricted Areas

Flying Bridge Galley

Tank Top Chill Box Tank Top Freezer

Ship's Office Hospital

Machinery Spaces Scientific Freezer

Scientific Climate Control Room AutoSal Room

Transducer Void

While not normally considered to be off-limits, access to the Bridge during an underway watch shall be at the discretion of the OOD.

Restricted Areas During Heavy Weather

When the CO decides that heavy weather procedures are warranted, word will be passed that no one is allowed outside without permission from the bridge. If it is absolutely necessary to go outside, obtain permission from the bridge, wear a work vest and have a partner monitor your activity. When work on deck is finished, notify the bridge (ext. 125) that you are safely back inside.

Firearms and Other Weapons

This policy applies to all ships in the NOAA fleet, see General Shipboard Policy Information.

Shipboard Communications

Specific information on how to contact the Ronald H. Brown and all other fleet vessels can be found on the Fleet Telephone page.

Each embarked personnel will have an e-mail account/address established by the Lead Electronic Technician (LET) at the time of arrival.

Satellite Communications

Standing Order 9.21-2: INMARSAT B (voice and fax) and INMARSAT Mini-M (voice) and Iridium (voice) communications are available aboard ship and may be used for personal or business related calls. Brevity is encouraged. See the Lead Electronic Technician (LET) for any questions regarding the use of these phones.

Ship Phone Services

Standing Order 9.21-3: Routine incoming non-emergency phone calls are discouraged. Use e-mail communications for this purpose. In an emergency, embarked personnel can be contacted by phone. Phone numbers for the Ronald H. Brown can be found on the Fleet Telephone page.

Messages can also be left with the Marine Operations Center, Norfolk, Virginia, by calling (757)441-6206. After hours and on weekends and holidays, an answering service will relay a message to the appropriate duty officer.

E-Mail Policy

At sea, e-mail is sent and received by the onboard VSAT systems. In recent years the proliferation of electronic mail (e-mail) and the reduction of INMARSAT costs have permitted the sending of nominal amounts of personal e-mail when transmitted with official ship's business. The availability of e-mail services is a valuable quality of life standard aboard ship.

Each embarked personnel will have an e-mail account/address established by the Chief Electronic Technician (CET) at the time of arrival.

Personal Non-NOAA Computers on Ship’s Network

Prior to arriving on the ship, please have the following completed:

Up-to-date virus scan software must be up and running

All applicable system updates must be installed

See ET for instructions on adding your computer to the network

NOAA IT System Rules of Behavior and OMAO Access Control Policy are excellent references for IT related topics. Other IT policies can be found here.

Ship's Mail

Standing Order 9.22: Incoming letters and packages can be sent to embarked members of the ship's operating crew and scientific complement by addressing them to:

NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
Marine Operations Center - Atlantic
439 West York Street
Norfolk, Virginia 23510-1145

Mail received at the Marine Center will be periodically forwarded to the ship's next port of call. When the ship is on a foreign deployment, senders are encouraged to mail letters and packages earlier to ensure delivery. Be advised that some foreign customs authorities routinely open and inspect incoming mail. Arrangements for ship's outgoing mail will be made on the morning of departure. In foreign ports, mail must have US postage affixed as it will be boxed and overnight-expressed to the Marine Center, where it will enter the US postal system. US postage stamps are not routinely available aboard ship.


The dress code on the ship is casual and the following are recommendations for what you might bring for your trip on the RONALD H. BROWN. The interior spaces of the ship, particularly the Labs, are well air conditioned and kept at a relatively low temperature, warm clothes such as sweaters and a light jacket are highly recommended. Open toe or shower shoes are NOT allowed outside of the staterooms. The exterior decks of the ship can be wet in any type of sea condition and appropriate foul weather gear is recommended. Wear proper shoes when working on deck. Sandals or any type of open-toed, open-heeled footwear that cannot be securely fastened to one's feet are unsafe and are not allowed for deck work. Steel-toed shoes are not a requirement but comfortable shoes with good traction are recommended when working for long periods of time on the steel decks. A hat, socks, shoes and clothing that fully cover legs and arms are required for the weekly emergency drills.

You may also want to bring sunglasses for enjoying the nice weather that will hopefully occur. The ship supplies towels and wash cloths but they are rather small so you may want to bring your own towel.

Laundry, Linens, and Water Conservation

Standing Order 9.25: Washing machines and dryers are available at no charge to all embarked personnel 24 hours per day. They are used on a first-come-first-served basis. Laundry detergent, bleach, fabric softener, and an iron and ironing board are also available. In order to conserve fresh water, it is requested that only large full loads be placed in the washing machines. The dryer lint screens should be cleaned after each use. Please monitor your laundry cycles, removing the laundry from the washing machine, placing it in the dryer and retrieving the clothing at completion.

The laundry may occasionally be secured due to operational requirements or as a water conservation action. If the ship expects to be alongside where shoreside potable water is unavailable or at anchor for more than a day in an area where water production is not advisable, the laundry will be secured 2 days before arrival and 2 days after departure as a water conservation procedure. Notices will be posted before the laundry is secured.

Clean linen (flat sheet, fitted sheet and pillow case) and towels will be provided to all embarked personnel upon their arrival and linen and towel exchanges will occur whenever a contract laundry service is available. In between linen and towel exchanges, it will be the responsibility of each individual to launder his/her own linens and towels as often as they feel necessary.

The ship has a limited capacity to carry (12,700 gallons) and make fresh water. The ship's reverse osmosis system and evaporator are more than adequate to satisfy normal shipboard demands for drinking, cooking, and washing. However, when a large number of people are embarked aboard ship, every effort must be made to conserve water. In your personal use, please consider the precious nature of this resource and the inconveniences that will occur if rationing or severe restrictions are required. The following practices should be observed at all times:

Wash only full loads of laundry.

Ensure that sink and shower fixtures are turned completely off.

Report all leaks of water fixtures, no matter how slight, to the engineering department.

Do not keep water running when brushing your teeth or shaving.

Take a sea shower: wet down (secure water), soap up, rinse off (secure water).

Marine Sanitation System

Standing Order 9.27: The ship is equipped with a low water volume, high vacuum pressure sewage system. It is designed to handle the disposal of human waste and toilet tissue only. The introduction of any other material into this system will invariably clog the system and could result in a costly and time consuming repair, not to mention a tremendous inconvenience to all aboard. The ship's sanitation system cannot handle cigar, cigarette butts, sanitary napkins etc. Please dispose of such items properly. Do not introduce any foreign materials into the system other than human waste and toilet tissue.

Ship's engineers control the drain routing and should be consulted in ADVANCE ABOUT ANY DANGEROUS OR CORROSIVE CHEMICALS you plan to put into any drains.

Shipboard Computers

Standing Order 9.29: Computers are available throughout the ship for use by all embarked personnel. Remember, mission support is the computers' highest priority followed by personal use. The computers located in the Ship's Library and in the After Bridge are reserved for the exclusive use of the ship's operating crew. Scientific personnel are requested to refrain from using these computers.

Any software that is brought on board for either mission use or personal use must be scanned for viruses prior to its use. Failure to do so may result in a virus being inadvertently introduced to the ship's computers with catastrophic results. Do not reconfigure any of the ship's computers or install any software on a computer without first checking with the LET or Chief Survey Technician first. Copies of software licensing agreements must be available on board. All software installed on the ship's computers at the beginning of a project must be removed at the completion of that project unless authorization to the contrary has been obtained from the Command.

Videotape Movies

Standing Order 9.30-1: Videotape movies provided by the Navy Motion Picture Service (8 mm format), ship-owned VHS training videos, and individually-owned VHS videos are available for the crew's viewing. When the ship is underway, two 8 mm videos are scheduled each evening and are shown concurrently at 1730 and at 2000 on previously announced channels. The ship's "movie officer" is responsible for posting a weekly schedule and for starting the videos at their scheduled times; all embarked personnel are encouraged to provide their input into the schedule.

Navy videotapes are accountable Government property and will remain securely locked when not in use. However, videotapes shown during the current week will remain available so that they may be viewed by off-watch personnel during non-scheduled periods. Videotapes being viewed during these periods must be removed from the video players not later than 1730 to avoid interfering with the scheduled showings.

Do not remove any videotapes from the video players if they are found running during non-scheduled periods as crew members may be viewing them in the privacy of their staterooms. VHS-format videotapes may be played at any time at the viewer's discretion. Individually-owned videos that do not contain offensive material may be viewed on the ship's entertainment system.

Exercise Room

Standing Order 9.30-2: An exercise room is located on the port side Platform Deck in the after scientific storage area. It may be used on a first-come, first-served basis at anytime of the day. Report any equipment problems to the XO. At times, adverse weather conditions may make use of the exercise equipment ill-advised.

Recreational Fishing

Standing Order 9.30-3: Recreational fishing may be permitted so long as it does not interfere with scheduled operations. Fishing will not be allowed in foreign Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ).

Ship's Store

The ship's store, located on the Mess Deck aft of the Galley, is normally open for business each evening after dinner time. The store is stocked with candy, personal items and Ronald H. Brown insignia merchandise.

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