Mariner Credentialing

10/3/2018: Marine Safety Alert 15-18 – Commerical passenger vessels and recreational diving

In the summer of 2012, the Coast Guard released Marine Safety Advisory 01-12 that focused on fatalities associated with passenger vessels in support of recreational diving activities.

Due to steady numbers of casualties each year, the Office of Investigations and Analysis posted Marine Safety Alert 15-18, “Don’t Let Your Divers Down,” to remind owners and operators of these vessels that recreational diving is not an activity regulated by the Coast Guard. It is imperative to remember that the Coast Guard licensed Master of a commercial vessel transporting recreational divers and passengers is ultimately responsible and accountable for vessel and passenger safety. Failure to adequately perform those duties may lead to administrative actions against the Master.

Masters of a commercial vessel used for recreational diving are responsible to ensure:

• Clear and effective safety briefings are made before getting underway
• Safe transit of passengers to and from dive sites
• Safe entry and exiting of divers from water at dive sites
• Safe recovery of persons from water during routine and emergency circumstances
• Safe accounting of divers at all times and managing role calls prior to dive-site departure
• Proper care of vessel mechanical systems, emergency equipment and watertight integrity at all times, especially prior to getting underway
• Proper maintenance and inspection of diving equipment when those items are part of the vessel’s equipment
• Adequacy and effectiveness of marine crew or deckhands in the performance of their duties
• Effective monitoring of sea state and weather conditions prior to getting underway and at all times thereafter until vessel returns safely to dock

Masters of a commercial vessel used for recreational diving who are also acting as a Dive Masters are responsible to ensure:

• Effective supervision of non-training related diving activities by planning, organizing and directing dives
• Accurate assessment of the hazards of a dive site and ensuring diver awareness of those hazards
• Divers are properly briefed on the layout and points of interest of the dive site
• Suggestions for dive routes at a specific site for autonomous divers
• Thorough checks of divers into and out of the water from the vessel
• Safety of divers in the water when leading a group as a tour guide

The Coast Guard recommends that all persons responsible for passenger vessels involved in dive activities review and adhere to the practices in Marine Safety Advisory 01-12. Additional diver casualty data can be found here.

This safety alert is provided for information purposes only and does not relieve any domestic or international safety, operational, or material requirement. Developed jointly and distributed by the Investigations National Center of Excellence and the Office of Investigations and Analysis. Questions may be sent to

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.

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