Research Vessel Paragon

Policies and operating guidelines

Requirements for Personnel


  1. All operators must have either taken the Motorboat Operator Certification Course (MOCC) or hold a current USCG certification (OUPV or Master Near Coastal)
  2. All operators must have a California Boater Card as required by the state.
  3. All operators must maintain current First Aid/CPR/AED and Blood-Borne Pathogen training.
  4. All operators are eligible for Hep B vaccinations at no-cost and must either complete the full vaccination series or sign a declination form. See the Human Resources and Safety Assistant, Tara Vadas, for details.
  5. All operators must be checked out by Jared Figurski or Eric Fitzgerald on the operation, maintenance, and safety equipment of R/V Paragon. (The MOCC course may cover this if completed on the R/V Paragon)
  6. Once these criteria are met, operators must receive official authorization by the director of Marine Operations (DMO)
  7. Operators must maintain “recency” by operating R/V Paragon at least once in a 6-month period.
  8. Operators who do not maintain “recency” are not authorized to use R/V Paragon until they have passed a refresher checkout with Jared Figurski or Eric Fitzgerald.  Checkouts include a refresher of R/V Paragon systems, updates on changes, and an evaluation of the operator’s ability to operate R/V Paragon from power up to clean up.


  1. All passengers must be 18 years or older due to insurance requirements.
  2. Non-MBARI employees are required to fill out a Visiting Participants Release Form. Hard copies are provided on the boat and an electronic version is available on the R/V Paragon home page. These forms must be deposited in the manifest box prior to departure.

Pre-cruise and Sign Up Procedure

  1. MBARI employees may check for vessel availability on the ship’s calendar (Zimbra Calendar: MBARI/Ships/Paragon).
  2. An authorized operator must be identified (see Michael Kelly).
  3. A pre-cruise plan must be submitted.
  4. The max load is 8 people.
  5. Any participants that are not MBARI staff must sign the Visiting Participants Release Form. This is an absolute requirement and violations may result in revocation of the operator’s status as a Paragon Captain.
  6. Cruises that exceed the allowable area, or time of operation (see section V) require special permission from the director of DMO
  7. A float plan must be completed and left in the dock box on the R/V Western Flyer dock.  Float plan must indicate date, time of departure, time of return, operator, crew, Visiting Participant’s Release forms, on-board cell phone and shore contact information.

To avoid delays, it is recommended that a pre-cruise plan be submitted 5 business days in advance of the cruise.  For cruises that require special permissions, it is recommended that the pre-cruise plan be submitted 15 business days in advance.

Allowed Area and Times of Operation

R/V Paragon is authorized for general use within the area bounded by Año Nuevo (N 37.148) to the north, and Point Lobos to the south (N 36.500), and out 30 nm from shore (nearest distance). Operations that are planned outside of this zone require special permission from the director or deputy director of DMO, Jared Figurski or Eric Fitzgerald.
R/V Paragon can be operated from sunrise to sunset.  Users who desire to run the boat outside of this time frame need to obtain special permission from the director of DMO in advance.

Guidelines for Weather Considerations

Good judgment and decisions are the foundation of safety.  The first most important decision comes when deciding whether the marine forecast is favorable for operations using the R/V Paragon.  MBARI provides some general guidelines below, however be advised that it is the responsibility and authority of the operator to cancel or terminate a cruise based on his/her assessment of the marine weather. Hazardous conditions may exist below the thresholds presented here:

Weather Modified Allowable Area of Operation

Full Range: winds <20 kts and swell <12 ft
Inner Bay Only: winds 20-25 kts and swell <12 feet
Advised No Go: winds >25 knots or swell >12 feet

Safety Guidelines

  1. A single operator must be identified for any given cruise.  If two qualified operators are onboard, it must be decided prior to departure who is the operator for the day.
  2. Of the MBARI fleet, R/V Paragon is the fastest, requires the least amount of startup time, and if necessary, can be operated with a single operator, however unless absolutely necessary we need at least two people on board during operations for safety reasons.
  3. When being used for diving or mooring maintenance (when not side-tied to the buoy) a certified operator is required to stay with the boat, therefore this may require two certified operators on board if one is going to dive or get on the mooring for maintenance.
  4. The Paragon is limited to eight persons on board. Of that number either one person must be a certified operator and aboard at all times.
  5. When the vessel is underway everyone outside the R/V Paragon cabin must have a work vest on. For scuba diving operations a wet suit is a viable alternative for a work vest.
  6. All scuba diving missions require permission from Kim Reisenbichler, the MBARI diving officer.
  7. The operator is responsible for following safety regulations set forth by the US Coast Guard and MBARI.
  8. Negligence in adhering to safety regulations may result in the suspension or revocation of operator status for the R/V Paragon as decided by the director of DMO.

Fuel Use Policy

  1. R/V Paragon must be refueled after each cruise whenever possible. Use your MBARI credit card and code the fuel cost to 367000 5350 Supplies Fuel, DMO.
  2. For operations within the allowable area, typically only saddle tanks will be required (220 gal capacity; ~130 nm endurance).
  3. If an endurance of >130 nm is anticipated, special permission is required from the director of DMO.  Jared Figurski or Eric Fitzgerald must be consulted about the status of aft fuel tanks and weight distribution before filling.
  4. Saddle tanks are to be refueled to 100 gal in each tank when onboard fuel drops below 150 gallons.
  5. Fueling can be delayed if and only if:
    1. Fuel dock is closed
    2. R/V Paragon will be used by the same project group the following day (allowing a single refuel for multiple days of work).
    3. An arrangement is made with the next user.
    4. It is authorized by the director of DMO, Jared Figurski, or Eric Fitzgerald
  6. If R/V Paragon is not fueled and must be done by someone else, the project group is responsible for the operator’s time.

Docking and Access

1.   Dock Location:

Dock space at MBARI is limited and requires coordination to insure that all four research vessels are accommodated.   For now, R/V Paragon is docked at one of two locations:

  1. R/V Western Flyer floating dock.  The R/V Western Flyer cannot enter or depart the slip with the R/V Paragon moored. Operators must confirm that the R/V Western Flyer is not scheduled to transit to or from her berth before mooring to the floating dock.
    1. Consult the Zimbra calendar for the ship’s schedule
    2. Consult with Eric Fitzgerald or Jared Figurski
  2. On E dock (former Zephyr dock). R/V Paragon must be tied as far west as possible to allow R/V Rachel Carson to enter her slip.

Unless docking at E dock, operators must check with Chris Grech and/or Eric Fitzgerald for instruction on where R/V Paragon should be docked on return.  This is required so as not to block the scheduled arrival or departure of other vessels.

2.   Vessel Access:

  1. Operators will be notified of the combination to the door on R/V Paragon.
  2. In addition, the R/V Paragon door combo and Zephyr dock key will be stored in a safe box mounted just outside and to the right of B247 (Steve Etchemendy’s office).
  3. Operators will be notified of the combination to the safe box.
  4. The key for the Zephyr dock must be returned to the safe box.

Operator Violations
To operate the R/V Paragon requires handling skills, good judgment, attention to detail and diligence.  First and foremost, an operator is responsible for the safety of those onboard and for the condition of the boat.  The privilege to operate R/V Paragon can be suspended or revoked at any point at the discretion of the director of DMO.  Circumstances that warrant review include, but are not limited to:

  1. Displays of poor boatmanship and/or judgment
  2. Violations of MBARI safety regulations
  3. Violations of USCG safety regulations
  4. Negligence in the upkeep and maintenance of R/V Paragon
  5. Negligence to properly document cruises and/or report problems

At Sea

Research Vessel Western Flyer
R/V Western Flyer cruise planning
Checklist of Supplies
Cruises outside home port
Data and video: formats and specifics
Departure/arrival times
early departure
Hazardous materials
Precruises and postcruises
ROV dive time definitions
RHIB operations
ROV users checklist
Science party guidelines
Scuba diving
Ship to shore communications
Research Vessel Rachel Carson
R/V Rachel Carson cruise planning
Research Vessel Paragon
Emergencies and contacts
Onboard documents and logs
Policies and operating guidelines
Marine operations policies
Departure/arrival times
Early departure
Elevator payload limits
Equipment design guidelines
Hazardous materials
Homer beacon policies
Lab use and chemical safety
NILSPIN ™ oceanographic ropes
Push core policies and description
RHIB operations
Rigging policy
Science party size
Cruise planning
Marine operations policies
Remotely operated vehicles
ROV Ventana
ROV Doc Ricketts
Mini remotely operated vehicle (ROV)
Autonomous underwater vehicles
Gulper autonomous underwater vehicle
Seafloor mapping AUV
Long-range autonomous underwater vehicle Tethys
Investigations of imaging for midwater autonomous platforms
Benthic Rover
Autonomous surface vehicles
Wave Glider
Wave Glider-based communications hotspot
2020 Expeditions
2019 Expeditions
2018 Expeditions
2017 Expeditions
2016 Expeditions
2015 Expeditions
2014 Expeditions
2013 Expeditions
2012 Expeditions
Cabled observatory
About MARS
MARS contacts
MARS science experiments
Ocean Soundscape
Soundscape Listening Room
MARS hydrophone data
How to connect to MARS
MARS contacts
How to interface
MARS site description
MARS instrument deployment
MARS biology
MARS technology
MARS connector wiring
MARS node description
More ocean observatory resources
Local notice to mariners
Mooring data
Research tools
Administration & planning
Marine operations technicians