NAO 209-115: NOAA Employees Aboard Non-NOAA Vessels

Issued 06/10/91; Effective 05/29/91; Reviewed Last: In Process



This Order provides guidance for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) managers to ensure the safety of NOAA employees aboard non-NOAA vessels. A non-NOAA vessel is any vessel not owned, operated, or chartered by NOAA.


Safety is promoted by the vessel's seaworthiness, operating methods, the vessel operator's skills and experience, and compliance with supervising authorities. Listed below are vessels considered as being operated and maintained in a seaworthy manner:

  • Vessels owned, operated, or licensed by federal or state governments.
  • Vessels owned and operated by the University/National Oceanographic Laboratory Systems and/or private/state universities.
  • Vessels operated in accordance with U.S. Coast Guard Inspection regulations and manning laws.
  • Foreign research vessels (state owned and operated).
  • Commercial fishing vessels.
  • Foreign commercial fishing vessels.


.01 Program Managers have the responsibility for preparing a safety plan for employees working on non-NOAA vessels. The safety plan should include:

  • a description of the briefing or training furnished NOAA employees assigned to work aboard non-NOAA vessels;
  • the development of a cruise plan for cruises of more than one day or following the cruise plan of the Chief Scientist; and
  • a determination of the vessel's seaworthiness and capabilities by developing and evaluating information regarding the intended vessel including but not limited to:
    1. vessel seaworthiness;
    2. level and date of inspection, if any;
    3. lifesaving and firefighting gear aboard;
    4. communication equipment;
    5. operator's and crew's license or experience; and
    6. the history of vessel's operation.


.01 A Program Manager's or Chief Scientist's cruise plan should be developed for non-NOAA vessels operating overnight or in remote areas. Each cruise plan is forwarded to the appropriate monitoring NOAA employee ashore. It can also be used as guidance to NOAA participating employees.

.02 The recommendations listed below should be considered when developing a cruise plan:

  • Provide an itinerary with the estimated time of departure (ETD) and the estimated time of arrival (ETA).
  • Furnish a NOAA personnel roster for the intended cruise.
  • Set up a method to report significant changes or updates to the appropriate officials ashore.
  • Supply emergency position indicator radio beacons with necessary operating instructions for operations of more than one day and for operations in remote areas.
  • Establish tracking and checking procedures for the intended cruise.


This Order supersedes NOAA Directives Manual (NDM) 17-15, dated August 22, 1980.


William Broglie
Acting Director, Offfice of Administration

Office of Primary Interest:
Office of NOAA Corps Operations
Resource Management Staff (NCx4)