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Utility Navigation

Small Boat Program

Safety and Risk Management

Safety Notices 

Roving Watch & Lookout Requirements (May 1, 2021). Safety Alert: SBP Bulletin 2021-01 clarifies and expands upon requirements from SBSB Safety Notice on 19SEP2019, Lithium Battery Safety Notice dated 28APR20, and Section 7 of the Small Boat Standards and Procedures Manual (SBSPM) Version 4.1. These requirements will be incorporated into the forthcoming updated version of the SBS&PM.

SBP COVID Guidance Update (06JAN2022): Small Boat Program Bulletin 01-2022: SBP Safety Alert - Update on SBP COVID Guidance

Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure Control Plan (BBP ECP) is now available. BBP training is now required every two years for small boat operators of all class vessels. BBP may be taken in person in conjunction with First Aid/CPR or online at the Commerce Learning Center. 01FEB2021

Fixed Fire System Safety Notice 22 June 2020 and Extinguishing Fires in Spaces Protected by Fixed Gas Fire Extinguishing Systems

Lithium Battery Safety Notice 28 April 2020 and Lithium Battery Safety Notice 19 September 2019 

Risk Management 

Risk is inherent in any small boat operation, where the possibility of accident and injury is a constant presence. Operational Risk Management (ORM) is designed to help crewmembers assess the risks involved in any operation, evaluate the consequences of an unfavorable outcome, and pre-stage mitigation specific to each risk identified.

The goal of NOAA Small Boat Operational Risk Management is to support the highest level of safety and environmental stewardship among the small boat community.

Operational Risk Management is actually the formalized name for an ability we use in everyday life, often without consciously thinking about the process. If you’ve ever hesitated to cross a street at a complicated intersection, then you’ve used all the steps found in a good risk management plan.

The goal of Operational Risk Management aboard a small boat is to:

  • Identify the risks involved in your operation
  • Consider the consequences that could stem from each bad outcome
  • Decide if the consequences are acceptable or unacceptable
  • If the consequences are unacceptable, either mitigate the risks, or stop operations

For NOAA small boat operations, a complete Operational Risk Management plan has three elements:

  1. A formalized document that catalogs the small boat and components of operational personnel, systems, material condition and capabilities, called a Baseline Assessment.
  2. A formalized document that catalogs the measures of success and potential hazards of a project or task, and the associated mission requirements, tools, gear and personnel, called a Mission Risk Assessment.
  3. A document used to make daily go/no-go decision called an Operational Risk Assessment
    • The NOAA Small Boat Operational Risk Assessment (GAR) Form, is the method used to conduct an operational risk assessment
    • The GAR is completed prior to leaving the pier or ship
    • The specific risks found in the Baseline and Mission Rick Assessments are used to assess each category contained within the GAR

To report a near miss or accident, use the NOAA Safety Incident Reporting System. Log in to the secure site using NOAA email credentials. 

The SBSB charter requires Board review of all incident and accident reports. The SBSB must assure that appropriate investigative and corrective actions have been taken. Identifying lessons learned is key to all incident investigations. The investigation team will develop lessons learned and suggested corrective actions. The SBSB uses an incident response flowchart to determine the next steps.

The NOAA Small boat Accident Reports are updated as needed. Please contact the SBP Manager at with any questions. 


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Reviewed: January 10, 2022. Contact us with page issues.

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