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Frequently Asked Questions

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Do I have to get my hair cut at Basic Officer Training?


For more information on personal appearance click on Basic Officer Training Requirements

Who should do my boat's Annual Small Boat Evaluations (ASBE)?

Annual Small Boat Evaluations (ASBE) are conducted by Vessel Operations Coordinators (VOC), Commanding Officers (CO), or their designee(s) using the approved ASBE outline and checklist.


When should NOAA Corps Officers log a dive to receive dive pay?


Dives should be logged by the 10th of the following month.  For example, to get dive pay for November, you must log your November dive by December 10th.


What is Basic Officer Training Class like?


For more information click on Basic Officer Training


What class is my boat?

Small Boat ClassDefinition
Class A less than 16 feet length overall
Class I 16 to less than 26 feet length overall
Class II 26 to less than 40 feet length overall
Class III 40 to less than 65 feet length overall
Small Research Vessel (SRV) greater than 65 feet length overall but less than 300 gross tons


What kind of diver recall system should I get?


At this time, the NOAA Diving Program does not have a specific brand requirement. Feel free to buy one that you like. 


What should be inside a NOAA Divemaster Kit?


The NOAA Diving Program requires that Diving Units keep the following items in their Divemaster Kits: (Divers should also complement these with items that are useful to the type of diving they do.)

Tools and gear that should be included in a NOAA Divemaster kit.

These are some of the items that are required to be inside a NOAA Divemaster Kit. 

  • O-rings
  • Extra fin straps and mask straps
  • Mouth pieces
  • Zip ties
  • Port plugs (high pressure and low pressure)
  • Scuba tools (things like allen wrenches for the port plugs, small adjustable wrenches to tighten hoses, screwdriver set, side cutters for zip ties, etc…)
  • Snorkel keepers
  • HP spool (a cylindrical object that creates a seal between the HP gauge and the HP hose that allows the gauge to swivel around without leaking) 


What are Dive Orders?


In order for a NOAA Corps Officer to become authorized to dive, the officer must first receive Officer Diving Authorization or "Dive Orders." The authorization is official when the NOAA Form 56-30 Officer Diving Authorization Request is completed and signed by the officer, the officer's supervisor, and the Diving Program Manager. An Officer Diving Authorization Request form must be completed at the beginning of each fiscal year (October 1) or whenever the officer is assigned to a new diving unit. 


When do I have to wear a RASS? 


General Guidelines

A Reserve Air Supply System (RASS) must be worn by NOAA Divers on OSHA-subject dives. In general, they are not required on dives that meet OSHA's Scientific Exemption, however, there are exceptions to this (see the "dives exempt from OSHA regulations" section below for more details). Read more about OSHA regulations on the NDP regulations page

Dives Subject to OSHA Regulations

  • Divers must always have a reserve supply of air. Divers can meet this requirement by using:
    • For depths 0-30 feet: a spare air bottle
    • For depths 0-130 feet: a RASS

Dives Exempt from OSHA Regulations (Scientific Exemption)

  • Divers must use a reserve supply of air when diving:
    • Outside of no-decompression limits
    • In overhead environments
    • In low visibility where diver cannot read his/her pressure gauge
    • In enclosed/confined spaces
    • Deeper than 100 feet
    • Line tended solo diving
    • Whenever Divemaster or Lead Diver directs divers to wear one
  • Divers can meet these requirement by using:
    • For depths 0-30 feet: a spare air bottle
    • For depths 0-130 feet: a RASS



How do I wear a RASS?


The Reserve Air Supply System (RASS) is worn by NOAA Divers on their right side, as shown in the illustration below.

If a NOAA Diver wishes to use the RASS in a different configuration, a waiver request must be submitted through the diver's Unit Diving Supervisor to the Line or Staff Office Diving Officer. 


  • RASS cylinder valves are never to have a cap. The cap and string may interfere with opening the valve and/or removing the second stage from the bag. 
  • Don’t forget to remove RASS cylinders from the pouch to minimize cylinder oxidation. The bottom of the cylinders are especially prone to damage. 


Drawing of NOAA wetsuit configuration with Reserve Air Supply System

Appendix 7-1 drawing from the July 14, 2011 NOAA Working Diving Standards and Safety Manual (NWDSSM) illustrating a NOAA diver wetsuit configuration. Mask: eyes. Snorkel: left side of head. Regulator: mouth, hose over right shoulder. Buoyancy Compensator Device (BCD) inflator hose: left shoulder. Inline alternate air source: left shoulder. BCD: right side. Reserve Air Supply System (RASS): right side. Whistle: left shoulder. Weight belt: waist, right hand release. Gauge console: under left arm. Fins: carried in hand. Knife: right ankle.


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Reviewed: March 30, 2015. Contact us with page issues.

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