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Topside Newsletter: July 2017

July 2017

In this issue: 2017 NDP Annual Report, NOAA Divers Honored, Recalling Divers During Shore Dives, NOAA Dive Log, Oxygen Administration Certificates, Attention All Field Trainers!, NDC Classes, Sending Diver Information Digitally, Non-NOAA Divers Using NOAA Vessels, Final Call: NDP T-Shirt Design Contest, Field Stories.

2017 NDP Annual Report

The NDP Annual Report for calendar year 2016 is finally complete! Thanks to everyone for your efforts in submitting unit reports and photographs. This publication is our chance to highlight all the great work you are doing in the field, and to make a case for why diving is so critical to accomplishing NOAA’s mission. Hard copies of the report will be sent to all units, ships, commands, and to NOAA leadership.

You can preview the report on the NDP website.

NOAA Divers Honored

On July 19, NOAA Deputy Under Secretary for Operations Benjamin Friedman announced the winners of the 2017 Administrator’s Awards. NOAA Diving Program Manager Greg McFall and NOAA Divers Jason Leonard, Kelly Gleason Keogh, and Randall Kosaki were honored for “implementing the use of advanced research diving technologies to explore the deep ‘coral reef twilight zone’”. During last year’s study of deep coral reefs at Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM), NOAA divers reached a maximum depth of 330 ft. 

A NOAA Diver lays reels out a measuring tape underwater

NOAA Diver Jason Leonard lays down a transect line while conducting research at 300 ft. in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. In June 2016, NOAA Divers in this mission reached a maximum depth of 330 ft.

Recalling Divers During Shore Dives

Last month NDP requested assistance in identifying an effective means of recalling divers from the shore. Here is a useful suggestion that was sent to us as an alternative to electronic recalls:

  • Place a condemned steel 80 cu cylinder cut in half lengthwise in the shallow area and hit it with a metal rod or pipe in a series of 3 hits. This method has been tried and the sound transmits well through the water at relatively shallow to moderate depths depending on the distance from the shore.

Remember: regulations state that “Topside personnel must have the capability of recalling divers during all diving operations and brief the divers on the recall method prior to each dive” (NDSSM 4.2.11). However, the NDCSB recognizes that for shore-based OSHA-exempt dives the UDS can waive the topside requirement (see sec 4.3.9 of NDSSM), in which case having recall capability would be impractical.

NOAA Dive Log

NOAA Diving Center staff continue to work on retooling the NOAA Dive Management System (NDMS) into the NOAA Dive Log, a new site that will no longer rely on Silver Light to operate. This will allow the site to work on any browser and not be limited only to Internet Explorer. The site developers have been working on multiple high-priority projects for the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, causing the development to lag behind the initial time table for completion. Given that Silver Light is being phased out of use altogether, the main goal of the site transfer will first focus on allowing the same functionality that was in the old system, with minimal changes to it. Exceptions to this will be increased access for UDSs to update the information for their unit divers and to view basic information for divers at other units. The certification information will also expand to accommodate and record the increased number of skills available to divers for use at NOAA.

As soon as the site has been developed in its entirety, Unit Diving Supervisors will be invited to test the site before a general release to all divers. Additional enhancements will be pushed to a second phase of development to follow the initial release.

Oxygen Administration Certificates

All divers should remember that they are required to take an instructor led class in Oxygen Administration at least once every two years. During the intervening years, divers can take the online Oxygen Administration course in the Commerce Learning Center to remain current. Once the new NOAA Dive Log is released, safety certification updates will be managed by the UDS. In special circumstances, divers can apply for short-term waivers for the instructor led training through their UDS.

Attention All Field Trainers!

As you know, the NDC has reactivated its Field Trainer program and is updating student materials for use in the field. The NDCSB has also approved new requirements both for certifying field trainers and NOAA Divers in the field.

The effective date for these changes will be September 6, 2017.

Once the changes take effect, Field Trainers which had been trained before July will have to either train a diver every two years (starting from the September 6 effective date) or take a refresher course in order to stay current.

Field Trainers who were trained before July 2017 should plan on participating in an informational conference call with NOAA Diving Center instructors on Friday September 8, at a time to be determined. An e-mail with more information about this conference call will be sent from the NOAA Dving Center to those concerned. Please contact NOAA Diving Center Manager David Kowalick at if you foresee having any difficulty attending this call.

A list of current Field Trainers may be found on the NOAA Diving Program website.

The NDCSB also voted recently to streamline the requirements for former reciprocity divers to become NOAA divers. During the Board’s July meeting, members agreed on a checklist of requirements for reciprocity divers only (all other divers will need to continue to complete the requirements as outlined in the NOAA Diver Field Training Student Evaluation Record).

NDC Classes (fees/ August class cancelled/September UDS refresher)

NOAA Diver and Divemaster courses will be mission-funded this Fiscal Year (FY 17) so there will be no class fees charged to NOAA students. The NDP website will continue to reflect fees that will be charged to non-NOAA students.

The Field Trainer course which had been scheduled for August has been cancelled due to an inability for interested divers to attend during the busy field season. The next available course will be offered March 12-16, 2018. Units with training needs prior to that date should contact NDC Manager David Kowalick at to discuss possibilities for local training.

Unit Diving Supervisors who would like to refresh their skills are invited to participate in the NOAA Diver class as instructors during any or all of the modules offered from September 11-29, 2017. Field Trainers that assist in the instruction of module 2, from September 15-22, will qualify for recertification as NOAA Diving Field Trainers. NDC may be able to cover travel expenses for participating UDSs and Field Trainers. Please contact NDC Manager David Kowalick at to coordinate travel and dates.

Sending Diver Information Digitally

Please make sure that information that you send via e-mail does not contain any Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as birth dates, social security numbers, or medical information. If you need to send this information, you should do so via an encrypted program such as Accellion. When sending medical forms you can also choose to send them directly to the Diving Medical Officers using their secured fax (206-529-2759). Another option is to redact PII before sending it.

Examples of PII not sent securely to NDC are certification cards with birth dates and all types of medical forms. Please protect yourself by sending any PII information securely.

Non-NOAA Divers using NOAA Vessels

Non-NOAA divers can currently apply for use of NOAA-owned or chartered vessels by submitting NOAA Form 57-03-10 Agreement Approving Diving Operations from NOAA Owned or Contracted Vessels Under Non-NOAA diving Standards to the NDCSB.

Because these dives will be run under non-NOAA standards and the NDCSB wants to ensure there is a clear distinction between NOAA and non-NOAA dives, the dive plans and accident management plans that must be submitted along with NF 57-03-10 cannot use NOAA forms. Applicants should submit the information instead on their own program forms.

Final Call: NDP T-Shirt Design Contest

The deadline for submission of you T-shirt designs is August 1st! Send your ideas to

NOAA Design Contest postcard

T-Shirt Design contest open to NOAA Divers.

Field Stories

Catch up with what your fellow NOAA Divers are doing by checking out recent blog posts on the NOAA Diving Program website! This month you can read about NOAA Coral Reef Monitoring Program dives in St. Croix, a NOAA partnership with the University of Hawaii to teach underwater surveying techniques, and buoy maintenance at FKNMS.

NDP also disseminates equipment maintenance and recall information on its Facebook page and online Topside blog. This month Suunto announced a product recall.

There are many more stories that are also featured on Facebook, including several archaeological projects at FKNMS, NCCOS dives to study fish abundance at MNMS wrecks, and much more! You do not need a Facebook account to check out the page, simply click out of the window that appears prompting you to “log in” and you should be able to view the content.

Keep sending your photos and stories from your NOAA Dives! We’ll keep posting them on the NDP Facebook page and NDP website.

Keep up the good work!

Pictured: (top row, left to right) Reciprocity Diver Adam Brynes, NOAA Diver Lt. Brian Elliot, (bottom, left to right) Reciproci

Pictured: (top row, left to right) Reciprocity Diver Adam Brynes, NOAA Diver Lt. Brian Elliot, (bottom, left to right) Reciprocity Diver Patrick Vandenabeele, Peter Talivaa (Deputy Superintendent, NMSAS), NOAA Diver Ensign Marisa Gedney.



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