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Topside Newsletter: June 2017

June 2017

In this issue: NDSSM, shore dive recalls?, Field Trainers, Tethered communications, new UDS, back-mounted BCDs, ace your DUSA, hyperbaric chambers at NDC, next NDCSB meeting, T-Shirt design contest, submit your questions.

NOAA Diving Standards and Safety Manual Cover

Cover page of the NOAA Diving Standards and Safety Manual (NDSSM) that went into effect on April 5, 2017.

Get to know your NDSSM

Interviews completed after a recent diving incident brought to light that some divers are still unclear about where they can find the most up-to-date NOAA diving regulations. As of April 5, 2017, The NOAA Diving Standards and Safety Manual (NDSSM) became the official NOAA Diving Program policy manual. Since this is the first time the program has adopted a single regulatory manual, changes to this manual are extensive, and therefore every diver should take the time to become familiar with its contents. You can download a copy of the NDSSM at:

Please note that the table of contents is dynamic and clicking on the subject of your choice will take you to that section.

Wanted: ideas for recalling divers during shore dives

Some units conduct dives from shore and have found it hard to identify an effective means to recall divers in this type of environment. Have you used a reliable method in this type of situation or have an idea for something that would work?

Help your fellow divers! Send any suggestions via e-mail to

Courses and Refreshers for Field Trainers

This week, NDC Instructor Nick Jeremiah is in Key Largo training LTJG John Katchenago (UDS – Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary) and Jay Grove (UDS – Southeast Fisheries Science Center) to become Field Trainers. The new skills they are learning will be helpful to them when training NOAA volunteers or employees/contractors with extensive diving experience that, for various reasons, may not be able to enroll in a NOAA Diver course.

Another class for Field Trainers will be offered August 21-25 in Seattle, WA. Candidates need to have LODO recommendations and be Board approved, have at least NOAA Divemaster certification, and have logged at least 100 NOAA Dives.

Currently certified Scientific Diver Instructors should plan on participating in a Field Trainer refresher in order to maintain their certification. All Field Trainers will be required to train at least one diver every two years or participate in a Field Trainer refresher class in order to maintain certification. Options for refreshers are:

  1. Participate in the instruction of a NOAA Diver Module 2 class (next available class is September 15-22 in Seattle, WA – Please contact to enroll)
  2. An NDC instructor can co-teach a class with the candidate on site (please contact the NDC Manager Dave Kowalick at to coordinate this)

NOAA Scientific Diver Instructors trained during first class in 2011

The first group of Scientific Diver Instructors trained in 2011. Pictured standing from left to right: Tane Casserley, Sean Meehan, Hans Van Tilburg, Barry Smith, Joe Scarpa, Greg McFall, Mitchell Tartt, Roger Mays, Jack Javech, Gregg Gitschlag, Andy David, Ray Boland; kneeling: LT Natasha Davis (former NDC XO), Doug Schleiger (former NDC Manager), Bill Gordon, Dave Dinsmore (former NDP Manager), Zach Hileman.

Tethered Communications

NDC is planning to offer a week long tethered communications class on the east coast if there is enough interest from students. Please send an e-mail to Dave Kowalick ( if you are interested in attending a tethered communications class, including your preferred location, by July 14.


As of June 7, 2017, LCDR Ryan Wattam became the new UDS for the OMAO / Headquarters diving unit in Silver Spring, MD. This unit encompasses a variety of subunits in the area, including divers in NESDIS, NMFS, NOS, NWS, and OMAO. The former UDS, CDR Eric Johnson, will be reporting for duty as Commanding Officer of the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer in late June.

Back-mounted BCDs

The UDS group in charge of determining the features required for an SEP-provided back-mounted BCDs has completed its research and is now working with the SEP manager to identify an appropriate model.

How to ace your DUSA

Diving Safety Officer Roger Mays has compiled a list of tips to help you sail through your next Diving Unit Safety Assessment (DUSA). Download it here for the most up-to-date advice!

Submit your dive photos!

You’re out diving and we want to see what your projects look like! Help us illustrate the activities of NDP divers by sending your photos and a short write-up about them to We’ll post the pictures on the NDP Facebook page and/or the NDP website.

Diver photographing coral nursery specimens

NOAA Reciprocity Diver E. Pontes (University of Miami) collects monitoring photos of coral disease resistance assays at a coral nursery.

Hyperbaric Chambers at NDC

Ever wondered what kind of hyperbaric chambers are maintained at NDC? Check out the newest story in the Topside blog: FEMA Back Up Treatment Chambers.

Next NDCSB Meeting

The next NDCSB meeting is scheduled on Tuesday July 25 at 11am Pacific Time. If you are interested in listening to the meeting proceedings please send a request to to receive the meeting conference line number.

T-Shirt Design Contest continues

Help the NDC Ship Store design a new T-shirt! Submit entries to by August 1, 2017. The winning entry will receive a free shirt.

NOAA Design Contest postcard

T-Shirt Design contest open to NOAA Divers.

Questions you would like NDC or NDCSB to address? Send them to





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