Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Project Instructions

All field projects aboard NOAA ships are defined by formal project instructions, which cover the operational and administrative details of the project.

The chief scientist and/or principal investigator retains the primary responsibility for preparing and submitting the project instructions and related material. Execution of the project as described therein is the joint responsibility of the chief scientist and a ship's commanding officer.

The following editable document is provided as a guide in preparing project instructions: NOAA Ship Project Instruction Template - Revised September 2020. The NOAA Institutional Repository contains published cruise instructions (such as the Gulf of Mexico Ecosystems and Carbon Cycle Cruise), which you may use as examples.

Draft project instructions are typically submitted by a program to a ship's operations officer who is responsible for collecting comments from department heads, command, and their servicing marine center operations division. Comments are reviewed and returned to the program for answers/clarification and any edits are made to the draft.  When the program, ship, and marine centers are satisfied, signatures are requested on the cover page for a final, submitted copy.

Port call logistics to consider when project planning:

  • Fueling: Loading or unloading may be restricted and the ship may be required to shift berths after the completion of the fueling operation.
  • Crane availability and capacity: Please specify in the project instructions if shore-side cranes, forklifts, or other services are needed to move vans or heavy equipment. The science party is responsible for costs incurred for these services and must have their own contract set up.
  • Crew working hours: While in port the crew works standard hours or may take liberty/leave. Crew assistance with staging operations will be limited to normal working hours. Any exceptions must be negotiated with the commanding officer in advance.
  • Shipping & receiving gear: All shipments should be addressed care of the responsible project participant, not just the ship or port agent. A single point of contact for all scientific shipments originating from the various labs and project participants is helpful.
  • Mission hazmat and chemicals: The science party is responsible for transport and disposal of unused chemicals. Please plan ahead to manage these at your destination port.

Contact your ship's operations officer for ship specific details and questions.