Shipboard Policies



The Institution has established a firm policy that no alcoholic beverages of any type will be permitted on Institution operated vessels. This means that members of the scientific party shall not bring on board alcoholic beverages of any kind for consumption while on the cruise. All personnel, including scientific staff from other institutions and visitors, are affected by this regulation and must abide by it.

Under a federal ruling, all persons on board, including members of the scientific party, are subject to drug and alcohol testing for reasonable cause in the event of a “serious marine incident.”


Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a Zero Tolerance organization. The possession or use of any controlled substance will not be tolerated. All persons on board, including members of the scientific party, are subject to drug and alcohol testing under Code of Federal Register 46 for reasonable cause in the event of a “Serious Marine Incident”. The Master, as senior representative of the Institution, has the sole responsibility and authority for such determination.

A “Serious Marine Incident”, beside the obvious physical and environmental disaster, includes any accident which results in a person being off duty for 72 or more hours. All persons directly involved are required to be tested.

All testing and the fact of a refusal to be tested must be logged in the ship’s log book.

Guest/Family Members at Sea

The Institution believes it is generally unwise for personal guests and/or members of the immediate family or household to work together, particularly under the heightened interpersonal atmosphere that exists at sea. Please read the Institution's Personal Guests and Members of Immediate Family or Household at Sea Policy on this issue.


Limited medical supplies are carried on every voyage and are administered by the Chief Mate or other person designated by the Master. Members of the crew have some degree of first aid training and CPR training. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, through UNOLS, subscribes to the services of Medical Advisory Systems, Inc. (MAS) which provides to the Master the medical advice of physicians 24 hours a day. In a medical emergency at sea, the Master retains the final responsibility and authority for treatments and actions taken.

Individuals should supply all special medication which they require during a voyage. The Master should be informed if a member of the scientific party is on medication which may cause unusual behavior or precipitate an emergency.

Personal Conduct & Harassment

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is committed to maintaining a positive working and learning environment free of illegal discrimination, harassment and intimidation. Institution scientists, administrators, managers and supervisors are expected to strongly support this effort, and all employees, postdoctoral scholars/fellows and students of the Institution are expected to support this goal.

While this policy only refers to the illegal aspects of harassment, it is as important that there be an atmosphere of professionalism at the Institution that will preclude these types of behaviors and foster a mutual respect for one another. Harassment can be blatant or subtle, printed, verbal, or physical. 

Examples of conduct that can constitute illegal harassment are:

  • Outright propositions/improper suggestions
  • Racial or ethnic jokes, slurs, or cartoons
  • Abuse, insults, or jokes concerning sexual orientation
  • Touching, including pats, hugs, squeezes, brushing against, putting arms around shoulders
  • Insinuations about private life or lifestyle
  • Threats or promises regarding compliance with sexual behavior
  • Actions or sounds - whistling, suggestive sounds, obscene gestures, display of offensive pictures
  • Sexist, lewd, or obscene remarks, jokes, or cartoons
  • Imbalance of attention, whether it be positive or negative, towards one employee or student based upon gender or race
  • Assault - sexual or otherwise
The Master of the each WHOI vessel shall ensure every crewmember, member of the science party as well as technical staff and visitors are made aware of WHOI’s Harassment policy as part of shipboard orientation.

On the vessel, any violations to the harassment policy shall be reported to the Master, Chief Mate or Chief Scientist. Crewmembers and technicians shall report violations to the Master and members of the science party to the Chief Scientist. In the event individuals are not comfortable reporting a harassment violation to someone in their chain of command, i.e. Master for crew or Chief Scientist for Science party, they have the option of reporting to either the Master or Chief Scientist or directly to the EEO Officer in Human Resources. 

Please view the brochure Harassment  What is it and what can be done about it for more information.

As with any other Institution EEO policy, individuals found in violation of these guidelines are subject to disciplinary action, which can include counseling, warnings, transfers, suspensions, reductions in pay or duties, and termination of employment.


For reasons of health and safety, smoking is prohibited within the ship’s enclosed spaces. Foul weather smoking is allowed in the wet lab on Oceanus, aft hanger on Knorr, and on the weather deck on Atlantis.