Email Print Share

Use of Research Vessels Outside the U.S. Academic Research Fleet

March 3, 2021

NSF is sharing a UNOLS link to an important set of guidelines that help our awardees with sea-going ship activities understand the expectations for using ships/boats outside the U.S. Academic Research Fleet (ARF).  Due to many factors, there may be special requirements for the use of non- ARF vessels (non UNOLS-designated operating vessels) for NSF-funded research.  Whether this involves use of an institution’s vessel resources that are not formally part of UNOLS (non-ARF vessels), or the charter of commercial vessels of any type, NSF prioritizes the safety of the science complement. To this end, NSF encourages careful attention to this guidance (the document supersedes Chapter 18 of the UNOLS Research Vessel Safety Standards (RVSS), link below), and also reaffirms that the responsibility for ensuring safety lies with the Principal Investigator and the awardee’s institution. We hope that our awardees find the document useful in making decisions regarding use of small boats/vessel charters and recommend that it be shared with your university risk managers. If necessary, NSF can help with funding the activities needed to ensure compliance with the Guidance Document.  
Please direct any questions to the UNOLS Office (Doug Russell or the NSF IPS Ship Operations Program Manager (Rose Dufour,   

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

mail icon Get News Updates by Email 

Connect with us online
NSF website:
NSF News:
For News Media:
Awards database:

Follow us on social
Twitter: and