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NOAA Small Boat Safety Board Charter

May 13, 2015



1.1.        This policy specifies the terms of reference for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Small Boat Safety Board (SBSB).



2.1.         This policy applies to the NOAA Small Boat Safety Board.



3.1. General

The SBSB is the final technical authority within NOAA on interpretation and application of NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 209-125 - NOAA Small Boat Safety Program; matters pertaining to small boat safety policies, standards, and procedures; and all other small boat issues raised to the SBSB.

3.2. Composition and Qualifications

3.2.1.     The SBSB consists of the following voting members:

  1. The NOAA Small Boat Program Manager (SBPM);

  2. Line Office Small Boat Officers (LOSBOs) from:

  • National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS),

  • National Ocean Service (NOS),

  • Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), (also representing National Weather Service (NWS)),

  • Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO), and

  • NOAA Office of Law Enforcement (OLE);

  • Staff Representative from NOAA Safety and Environmental Compliance Office (SECO).

  • 3.2.2.     Line/Staff Offices may designate one additional non-voting member to the SBSB.

    3.2.3.     Selection criteria should be based on each candidate's diversity of experience, currency of experience, and scope of professional qualifications in small boat operations , safety and operator training.

    3.3. Appointment of Board Members

    3.3.1.     Board members will be appointed by the Assistant Administrator/Director for each Line or Staff Office. The SBSB or the Small Boat Program Manager may provide recommendations to the Line/Staff Offices.

    3.3.2.     Any appointed member of the SBSB is eligible to be nominated as chairperson of the SBSB with Line/Staff Office concurrence. The SBSB will make the recommendation to the Director, OMAO.

    3.3.3.     The elected chairperson will be confirmed through an appointment letter from the Director, OMAO.

    3.3.4.     Appointments to the SBSB will be valid for three years from the date of appointment letter. Every three years before expiration of the appointment letter, the appropriate authority within each Line/Staff Office must either reaffirm his/her member’s appointment or appoint a new member to the SBSB.

    3.4. Decision Making Process

    3.4.1.     The chairperson must strive for consensus on all SBSB issues and decisions, and every attempt will be made to query each member of the SBSB on all decisions.

    3.4.2.     A quorum of two-thirds of the voting members must be present, in person or electronically, to conduct official board business.

    3.4.3.     Major objections to majority votes must be made part of the official meeting minutes.

    3.4.4.     Any member of the SBSB may request that an item be raised to the Director, OMAO and appropriate Line/Staff Office authority via written communication from the chairperson.

    3.5. Meetings

    3.5.1.     At a minimum, meetings of the SBSB will be held quarterly. In-person meetings of the SBSB will be held at least twice a year and as additional meetings are required. The SBSB chairperson will coordinate the agenda and arrangements for the meetings, and determine appropriate attendees.

    3.5.2.     To ensure flexibility and timely response to critical matters, the chairperson will call a meeting of the SBSB.

    3.5.3.     The chairperson will ensure all SBSB meetings have official minutes and actions recorded. Meeting records will be maintained by the Small Boat Program Manager and be made available to NOAA management and the NOAA small boat community.

    3.5.4.     The chairperson will provide the Director, OMAO with minutes from all meetings.

    3.6. Term Limits

    3.6.1.     The chairperson will serve a one-year term, and may be re-elected. In the case that the current SBSB chairperson is unable to continue his/her duties, the Small Boat Program Manager will serve as the acting chairperson in the interim and the board will recommend the Director, OMAO appoint a new chairperson.



    NOAA Administrative Order 209-125 – NOAA Small Boat Safety Program



    5.1.The NOAA Small Boat Safety Board (SBSB) will:

    1. Develop, maintain, and review NAO 209-125 – NOAA Small Boat Safety Program, and submit recommended changes for approval;
    2. Develop, maintain, and review the NOAA Small Boat Standards and Procedures Manual, and make change recommendations to the Director, OMAO;
    3. Promulgate basic small boat training requirements, policies, standards, and operating procedures developed under the Manual;
    4. Establish criteria for small boat operational risk assessments;
    5. Identify, publish, and encourage “best in class” safety practices for boat operations;
    6. Determine reciprocity or substitution of small boat operator and crew qualifications with similar qualifications provided by other Agencies or training programs;
    7. Provide policy implementation guidance to the Small Boat Program;
    8. Establish Small Boat Program metrics. Evaluate data, determine trends, and initiate appropriate actions;
    9. Address other boating related matters as requested by NOAA management or the small boat community;
    10. Identify NOAA-wide small boat management issues and inform appropriate management;
    11. Maintain an inventory of small boats and compliance records;
    12. Provide subject matter expertise for issues relating to the small boat community;
    13. Review special circumstances, evaluate requests for waivers to the provisions of NAO 209- 125 and the Manual, and provide guidance to the Director, OMAO as needed;
    14. Address succession planning by growing talent and developing areas of expertise for Program continuity;
    15. Develop a strategic vision for the NOAA Small Boat Program; and
    16. Develop tactical plans to promote and improve the visibility of small boat platforms within and outside of NOAA.
    17. Review boating incident/accident reports and initiate appropriate actions.

    5.2. Request for Interpretation, Opinion, or Review

    5.2.1.     LOSBOs, VPCs, and VOCs may raise requests for interpretation, opinion, or review to the board via their Line/Staff Office representative.

    5.2.2.     When the SBSB receives a request for interpretation or opinion, the board will act as a decision- making body. At least two-thirds of the board members must be in attendance to constitute a quorum. When time is of the essence or in emergency matters and in the absence of a quorum, the matter will be referred directly to the chairperson for a decision.

    5.2.3.     When the SBSB receives a request for review of operational risk assessments, supplemental vessel policies, vessel operations manuals, or small boat incidents, the board will act as a quality assurance body and provide recommendations.

    5.3. Subject Matter Experts and Working Groups

    5.3.1.     The SBSB may consult with appropriate subject matter experts or establish working groups of subject matter experts, to obtain reliable advice on any matter that may exceed the scope of knowledge and expertise of the board members.



    LineOfficeSmallBoat Officer (LOSBO)     Represents both individual programs and the Line Office as a whole on all matters pertaining to small boat operations and ensures Line Office Programs execute safe and effective small boat operations.

    VesselOperations Coordinator (VOC)     Is the Operations Coordinator, Operations Manager, Marine Operations Coordinator, Navigation Response Team Leader, or marine operations point of contact for each Program, Laboratory, or Field Party responsible for implementing all the requirements of the Small Boat Standards and Procedures Manual.

    VesselProgramCoordinator (VPC)      Will assist their LOSBO with communication and implementation of policies and requirements; report issues up to the LOSBO; and provide assistance as needed by the LOSBO.



    NOAA Administrative Order 209-125 – NOAA Small Boat Safety Program

    NOAA Small Boat Standards and Procedures Manual



    Department of Commerce, Department Organization Order 25-5, Section 5.05


    9. NOTES

    Effect on Other Documents: Supersedes Appendix B from NOAA Small Boat Standards and Procedures Manual, dated August 8, 2011


    NOAA Small Boat Program (SBP) Functional Organization Chart


    * Vessel Program Coordinator is an optional designation.



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