HOST > S.O.P.s > Passenger Submarine Operations Areas

Safe Operating Practice 10-99
Passenger Submarine Operations Areas
Approved January 1999

Issue. There are two commercial passenger submarine companies operating in several designated submarine operations areas near Oahu, Hawaii, and Maui. Multiple users of these operation areas present challenges for both the submarines and surface vessels.

Discussion. Atlantis Submarines operates a total of five submarines in Hawaii: three in Waikiki, one in Lahaina, and one in Kailua-Kona. Voyager Submarines operates a total of two submarines, both off Ala Moana Beach Park. Both submarine companies have experienced challenges with conducting safe submarine diving operations in their designated operations areas (submarine sites). Many of these challenges have been overcome with changes to internal policies and standard operating procedures. However, several of these safety challenges are outside of their control and relate to other vessels and scuba divers operating within the submarine's sites.

Neither submarine company wants to restrict vessels or scuba divers from operating inside the submarine sites. In fact, both companies feel that the other user of the site actually enhances the product they provide to their customers. The aim of HOST is to educate the public on the safe practices related to operating in the submarine sites with the submarines.

Recommendations of HOST:

1. Create a submarine information laminated card that outlines the following:

  • Safety issues and recommended operating practices related to operating in the vicinity of submarines
  • Description of submarine operating areas position/location
  • Methods of communicating with submarine tender vessels and maintenance facilities

2. Distribute the submarine information card to:

  • Vessels entering into the submarine sites
  • Scuba diving operators (dive shops)
  • MSO Honolulu for distribution to vessel operators

Submarine Information Laminated Card

Dear Ocean User:

Welcome to Coast Guard designated Submarine Operations area. We encourage the use of this site for your activities.

  1. A submarine-operating site has several unique considerations. For the safety and convenience of all concerned, the Hawaiian Ocean Safety Team (H.O.S.T.) has worked with the various users of these sites including diving operators, boating groups, Atlantis Submarines and Voyager Submarines, to develop this information card. Please take the time to make yourself familiar with its contents.
    1. Submarines like Voyager and Atlantis rely on their ability to surface immediately in the event of a malfunction or other urgency. For this reason, they have several policies and procedures in place, which are meant to discourage boats from operating overhead of their submerged Submarines. For your safety, the Submarine crew may offer advice or instructions while you are operating in this area.
    2. The submarines are relatively slow moving underwater. Despite this slow speed, they are very heavy, and their propellers are deceivingly powerful. If your operation involves scuba diving, please keep your divers well clear of the submarine. If possible, remain within the view of the submarine's operators. At all times, avoid scuba diving over the top of a submerged submarine. The thruster wash or unexpected surfacing of the submarine could result in an uncontrolled diver's ascent.
    3. Anchors and chains can be a serious hazard to submarines, and therefore, both submarine operators prefer that you use moorings that are provided. Be aware though, that even with the moorings, the site can accommodate only certain traffic levels. By tying up your vessel when the site is already fully occupied, you may be creating an unsafe condition.
  2. All submarine operations have a surface boat. This boat serves as the "control tower" of the operation. It can be identified from a distance by the blue and white alpha flag that it flies during submarine operations. This vessel can be approached through radio, telephone, or hand signals. The "surface officer" on board will be happy to answer any questions that you might have regarding paragraphs 1.a., 1.b., and 1.c., above, or any other issues such as weather and current reports. The call signs, frequencies, and telephone numbers are listed on the reverse of this card.
  3. Both companies' surface vessels carry multiple radios, have the support of multiple vessels, and have significant shore-side facilities, and therefore, make excellent emergency contacts in any situation.
  4. If you have any questions at all, please contact the numbers listed on the card, or call the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Office at 522-8260.

Happy boating!

Sincerely,

H.O.S.T


Voyager Submarines

Operating Area and Communications

1. Operating Area:

LAT 21° 16' 54", LONG 157° 51' 29"
LAT 21° 16' 48", LONG 157° 51' 43"

  • This area is approximately .6 nautical miles offshore of the Ewa end of Ala Moana Beach Park.

2. Communications:

VHF-FM Channel - 71 Primary & 72 Secondary

  • Contact - "Voyager Submarines Surface Controller"
  • Surface vessel communicates with the submerged submarine at ten-minute intervals.
  • Submarines are informed whenever surface traffic passes over the site or within the vicinity of the site.
  • "Voyager Skiff" will be in the immediate vicinity of the submarine when starting and ending a dive.

3. Operating Parameters:

  • Voyager's operation and maintenance base is at Pier 41, Honolulu Harbor.
  • MV LOPAKA and MV HO'OKELI tow the submarines to the dive site at 0700 daily.
  • The submarines are towed back to Pier 41 between 1500 and 1630 daily.
  • MV PALANI departs Kewalo basin on the hour from 0800 to 1600 and shuttles Voyager's guests to and from the submarines.

Atlantis Submarines

Operating Area and Communications

1. Operating Area:

LAT 21° 16' 00", LONG 157° 50' 30"

  • This area is approximately one nautical mile offshore Diamond Head of Kaiser Channel.

2. Communications:

VHF-FM Channel - 16 and 79

  • Contact - "Atlantis Control"
  • Offshore supervisor's cell phone - 366-4570
  • Control boat's trunk phone - 949-8955, extension 04208
  • Discovery's trunk phone - 949-8955, extension 04207
  • Control boat communicates with the submerged and surface submarines and all surface traffic.
  • Submarines are not given clearance to dive or surface when there is traffic approaching the dive or surface areas.
  • "Atlantis Skiff" will be in the immediate vicinity of the submarine when starting and ending a dive.

3. Operating Parameters:

  • Atlantis's maintenance base is at Pier 40, Honolulu Harbor.
  • MV HUKI NUI, PALAOA and NANI tow the submarines to the dive site at 0600 daily.
  • The submarines are towed back to Pier 41 between 1200 and 1900 daily.
  • Passenger vessel DISCOVERY departs Pier 40 daily by 0630 and returns at approximately 1800.

Atlantis Submarines (MAUI)

Operating Area and Communications

1. Operating Area:

  • Puamana
    LAT 20° 51' 02", LONG 156° 40' 01"
    LAT 20° 50' 30", LONG 156° 40' 50"
  • Puamana area is approximately .6 nautical miles offshore of Puamana Beach Park.
  • Stonewall
    LAT 20° 53' 31", LONG 156° 42' 41"
    LAT 20° 53' 00", LONG 156° 43' 56"
  • Stonewall area is approximately 2.0 nautical miles offshore (West) of Lahaina Harbor.

2. Communications:

VHF-FM Channel - 88A Primary

CB Radio - channel 10

  • Contact - "Atlantis Vessel Roxie"
  • Surface vessel communicates with the submerged submarine at ten to fifteen minute intervals.
  • Submarines informed whenever surface traffic passes over the site or within the vicinity of the site.
  • "Roxie" will be in the immediate vicinity of the submarine when starting and ending a dive.

3. Operating Parameters:

  • Atlantis's maintenance base is onboard the vessel OCEAN TWIN moored inside the Lahaina Roadsteads.
  • ROXIE tows the submarine to the dive site at 0730 daily.
  • The submarine is towed back to the OCEAN TWIN between 1530 and 1700 daily.
  • MV KAPENA departs Lahaina Harbor on the hour from 0800 to 1530 and shuttles guests to and from the submarine.

Atlantis Submarines (HAWAII)

Operating Area and Communications

1. Operating Area:

Central Location
LAT 21° 16' 00", LONG 157° 50' 30"

  • This area is approximately one nautical mile offshore, Diamond Head of Kaiser Channel.

2. Communications:

VHF-FM Channels - 16 and 70

  • Contact - "Atlantis Control"
  • Offshore Supervisor's Cell Phone - 366-4570.
  • Control Boat's Trunk Phone - 949-8955, Extension 04208.
  • Discovery's Trunk Phone - 949-8955, Extension 04207.
  • Control boat communicates with the submerged and surface submarines and all surface traffic.
  • Submarines are not given clearance to dive or surface when there is traffic approaching the dive or surface areas.
  • "Atlantis Skiff" will be in the immediate vicinity of the submarine when starting and ending a dive.

3. Operating Parameters:

  • Atlantis's maintenance base is at Pier 40, Honolulu Harbor.
  • MV HUKI NUI, PALAOA, and NANI tow the submarines to the dive site at 0600 daily.
  • The submarines are towed back to Pier 40 between 1200 and 1900 daily.
  • Passenger vessel DISCOVERY departs Pier 40 daily by 0630 and returns at approximately 1800.