Coronavirus Information for the UC San Diego Community

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Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information for SIO Research Vessels

Updated: Monday 29 May 2020

Resumption of seagoing operations

The US Academic Research Fleet has targeted 01 July for resumption of seagoing operations. Our goal is to enable a return to shipboard research while protecting the health and safety of all embarked personnel and shoreside support staff.  To do so, we have developed an approach guided by UC San Diego's infectious disease experts and epidemiologists as well as the World Health Organization, the CDC, state and local public health experts, and in accordance with guidelines established by the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS).

Project-specific risk assessment process

Each planned research mission will undergo a risk assessment involving the SIO Marine Superintendent, the vessel Master, and the Chief Scientist.  The process and considerations are described here:

COVID-19 Risk Assessment Process

Shipboard preparedness

We have developed protocols for in-port and underway operations for research vessels that

  • Define practices to minimize the possibility of COVID-19 being spread aboard a ship
  • Describe how to immediately respond to a suspected case of COVID-19 on board.

Our approach includes quarantine or testing requirements for embarking personnel, shipboard disease transmission prevention,  infection control, and patient treatment.  These instructions are described here:

COVID-19 Preparedness Plan

Risk awareness

Some underlying health conditions may increase the risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19.  To ensure that people who are considering embarking aboard a research vessel understand this risk, we require that all read, sign and return an acknowledgement to the SIO Marine Superintendent prior to sailing.

COVID-19 Risk Factors and Acknowledgement

Operational status: Temporary stand-down of US Academic Research Fleet until 01 July 2020

In coordination with Federal sponsors, research vessels in the US Academic Research Fleet (ARF) will stand down from seagoing operations until 01 July 2020.  This is an extension of the original thirty-day stand-down). In consultation with the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS), Scripps will monitor the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic to evaluate when and how to resume service. The latest UNOLS announcement is online here.

  • Scripps-operated research vessels Sally Ride and Robert Gordon Sproul will be directly impacted by this stand down.
  • SIO is working with Principal Investigators to evaluate the impacts of a stand-down on their projects, and rescheduling their cruises to later dates.
  • Revisions to the seagoing schedule will be reflected in UNOLS ship schedules, and the Scripps portal.
  • Marine technical support activities have been modified to incorporate work-at-home and social distancing protocols.

Operational status: Nimitz Marine Facility

The State of California has issued a statewide stay-at-home order

The Nimitz Marine Facility is at reduced staffing levels (described below) with only essential personnel necessary to maintain safety, security and continuity of critical operations. 

For campus information and guidelines, please refer to UC San Diego COVID-19 information for the University community.

Vessel / facility access

Effective 11 March 2020 through 01 July 2020

Only essential activities are allowed. 

  • No tours, guests, or social events on board or on site.
  • Only mariners, technicians, shore support personnel permitted.
  • Contractors doing essential business may be granted permission on case-by-case basis by Marine Superintendent.
  • Other exceptions require permission of Marine Superintendent, and will be based on scientific or operational necessity.

Cruise planning meetings

  • Will be held by teleconference only (not in-person).
  • Visitors to MarFac and the ships will be considered by the Marine Superintendent based on scientific or operational necessity.

Shipboard activities

  • Mariners: follow best practices for general shipboard hygiene, including regular sanitizing of high-touch surfaces and public areas.
  • Oncoming mariners, technicians and scientists: fitness to go to sea will be evaluated according to SOMTS practices.

Travel (for SIO employees)

  • Travel is restricted to essential activities. Seek alternatives such as virtual meetings or conference calls.
  • Travel by mariners and marine technicians to ships and work assignments is essential to operations, and authorized.
  • Use Connexxus to arrange travel. If you do not use Connexxus, register your trip with UC Away.
  • Follow UCSD directives and guidance regarding international travel.
  • Exceptions for non-essential travel will be considered by the Associate Director based on scientific or operational necessity.
  • Personal travel: Please consider whether your personal travel is necessary, and understand the risks involved.

Please do your part -- keep yourself and others healthy by practicing the following:

  • If you are sick, stay home and do not travel.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Consistently practice social distancing.
  • Sanitize frequently-touched objects and surfaces using a disinfecting cleaning spray or wipe.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does SIO have an established process for evaluating oncoming personnel?


Our approach includes quarantine or testing requirements for embarking personnel, described here:

COVID-19 Preparedness Plan

Does SIO have specific procedures for shipboard hygiene?

Yes.  Our practices for shipbard hygiene and sanitation are described here:

COVID-19 Preparedness Plan

What happens if someone becomes sick at sea?

SIO has a protocol for caring for ill shipmates while protecting the health of caregivers and others on board, described here:​​

COVID-19 Preparedness Plan


Send questions regarding SIO ship operations to Bruce Appelgate (SIO Associate Director) <>
Send questions regarding campus policy, procedure and guidance to UC San Diego Emergency Operations Center <>

Other sources of information: CORONA advice shipping comp.pdf

UC San Diego Guidance | Campus Status | COVID-19 Prevention | Travel - UCSD Guidelines | Campus Notices & Updates