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Diver Safety: IMCA and ADCI work together to achieve US Coast Guard Recognition

Published on 16 November 2020

A Policy Letter ‘Commercial Diving Operations – Equivalent Levels of Safety’ published by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) was issued in October and applies to all USCG regulated vessels operating anywhere in the world. The Policy is not only set to improve US diving safety, but also bears testament to the combined efforts of the Association of Diving Contractors International (ADCI) and the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) who have worked closely together for many years.

Their standards are publicly recognised in the Policy Letter, now in the public domain. The letter, which has been circulated to relevant organisations and is available on the USCG website explains:

  • “This policy letter provides guidance on Coast Guard acceptance of certain recognized industry standards for commercial diving operations as providing a level of safety that is equivalent to the requirements contained in Coast Guard regulations.”

It goes on to state that:

  • “The Coast Guard recognizes that, over the years, some diving organizations have improved their standards to make commercial diving safer. The intent of this policy letter is to recognize two well-established safety standards, developed by the Association of Diving Contractors International (ADCI) and the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA).
  • “The Coast Guard reviewed the commercial diving standards established by ADCI and IMCA and determined that commercial diving operations being performed in accordance with the appliable provisions of the following industry standards provide an equivalent level of safety to the commercial diving regulations found in 46 CFR 197.300 through 197.462, covering equipment, operations, diving mode procedures, periodic tests, and inspections:

Phil Newsum, Executive Director of ADCI stated:

“This is indeed an important step in the improvement of diving safety bearing testament to the hard work put in by both trade associations, the USCG and NOSAC. It means that commercial divers certified by either ADCI or IMCA and the respective agencies diving standards are recognised by the USCG.”

Pete Sieniewicz, Technical Adviser – Diving at IMCA, welcomed publication of the Policy Letter saying:

“This newly published Policy Letter points a way forward for the benefit of the industry and the practical application of the USCG Code of Regulation (CFR). We have worked closely with ADCI over the last five years and specifically on this goal since 2018, which has included many meetings with the USCG and the National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee (NOSAC) diving safety sub-committee.

“We are delighted that the hard work has proved so rewarding for the industry we serve and that the USCG recognises IMCA and ADCI as equal partners.”

Notes to Editors

The Policy Letter 16703 CG-OES Policy Letter No. 02-20 ’Commercial Diving Operations – Equivalent Levels of Safety’ is on the USCG website at It covers purpose; action; directives affected. Background; policy; disclaimer; and environmental aspect and impact considerations. It also provides an information point for any questions.

Further information on ADCI is at and IMCA at with detailed information on the IMCA Diving Division at