Southern California Naval Operations Clearances

The waters from Point Conception to the Mexican border and out 200 miles are heavily used by the U.S. Navy for air, surface and sub-surface operations including training exercises/maneuvers and live fire demonstrations.  This is on top of heavy commercial maritime traffic to/from the ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach and San Diego, commercial and sport fishing activity and recreational boat traffic.  It is not uncommon for oceanographic work in the Southern California Bight to conflict with scheduled naval operations.

As necessary, the SIO Ship Scheduling Office will advise appropriate naval commands and units of scheduled SIO vessel activities.  Advisories contain:

  • A brief description of the operation or work to be performed;
  • Location(s);
  • Dates and times (start and end of operations);
  • Other pertinent details as appropriate including:
    • Frequencies or frequency ranges of active sonar;
    • Equipment that will be left on site (bottom-moored instruments, moorings, buoys, drifters, AUVs, etc.) and anticipated recovery dates.

In most cases, these advisories go unanswered and unacknowledged by the various naval authorities - that typically means there are no operational conflicts.  Occasionally the Navy does respond and that usually means a naval unit (ship) or activity is scheduled at the same time and place as the proposed oceanographic operation.  In such cases the SIO Ship Scheduling Office will work directly with the affected scientific group and the Navy to resolve the situation.  Solutions can range from adjusting time lines to selecting alternative work sites; each case is unique.

Our advisories to the Navy are typically sent one to two weeks prior to commencement of the particular oceanographic operation.  Chief Scientists and scientific groups with work scheduled in the So Cal Bight should ensure their cruise plans are submitted to SIO's Ship Scheduling Office at least three weeks prior to the start of their cruises - the more lead time, the better.  Your cruise plan will be posted on SIO's Ship Operations web site along with other information about your cruise and will be used by the Ship Scheduling Office to generate the advisories to the Navy.

Scientific groups planning to work in the waters surrounding San Clemente Island should visit this web site to check on scheduled military operations on the various offshore ranges around the island.

Operations which may affect or interfere with normal marine traffic of any kind, should be reported at least two weeks in advance to the U.S. Coast Guard for publication in weekly Local Notices to Mariners.  Contact SIO's SIO Ship Scheduling Office to determine if your operation requires a Notice to Mariners.  Notices to Mariners are widely distributed in maritime circles and are the best way to let the shipping and boating public know of your operational requirements and/ or equipment locations.  Click here for U.S. Coast Guard guidance on submitting information for publication in the Local Notice to Mariners.

If your work involves installation of oceanographic research buoys, it is imperative to have them properly permitted.  Research buoys are considered Private Aids To Navigation (PATON) and as such are regulated by U.S. Coast Guard under Title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 66 (33CFR66).  Detailed information can be found here.

Questions regarding naval advisories and notices to mariners can be referred to the SIO Ship Scheduling Office at (858) 534-2841 or  The Ship Scheduling Office can also assist with obtaining clearance/concurrence to work in other Navy operational areas as well.

Last updated: 05/06/11