Special physical exams of personnel involved in submarine duty, diving, and
exposure to ionizing radiation, require a specific format and then review and
countersignature by an undersea medical officer. Your reference is the Manual of
the Medical Department (MANMED), chapters 15 and 16. Mistakes can adversely affect
careers, jeopardize special duty pays, and place unqualified persons in medically
Medical Disqualification and Waivers
One reference for evaluation of disqualification and waivers is MANMED, chapter
15. There are several conditions that disqualify people from special duty. An independent
duty corpsman is the only medical care provider onboard a submarine. Submarine duty is
remote in nature and can preclude the immediate MEDEVAC of a patient. In some cases, days
can pass before the "window of opportunity" exists for a MEDEVAC. This underlies
the importance of careful screening of the crew as well as divers. Remember that
bronchospasm in a diver at a depth of 150 feet may be a fatal event regardless of the type
of medical care available.
Waivers of disqualifying findings
Waivers of disqualifying findings are often appropriate but must be handled by
strict administrative guidelines. Your personal opinion expressed on a SF 88 is not
sufficient. A complete waiver package must be submitted. Consultation with an undersea
medical officer is essential.
If you have any questions on physicals, waivers, or disqualifications contact BUMED
(MED-21), Undersea Medicine and Radiation Health at COMM: (202) 762-3444 or (DSN)
762-3444. Message PLAD BUMED I/2111 Washington DC.
It is absolutely essential you keep available current phone numbers for the nearest
recompression chamber (military or civilian) and the nearest diving medical officer (DMO).
Diving Medical Officers are attached to submarine squadrons, groups, and larger
diving units as well as Naval hospitals and some of the larger clinics.
Two very serious conditions must be considered when you are evaluating a diver:
decompression sickness (DCS or the Bends) and arterial gas embolism (AGE). Presentations
are varied but ANY neurologic abnormality occurring minutes, hours, or even several
days after a dive demands consideration for emergency hyperbaric treatment.
Questions or comments call (24 hours a day):
(NEDU), Panama City, FL, COMM: (850) 230-3100, (DSN)
Navy Experimental Dive Unit
Personnel Reliability Program (PRP)
This program applies to personnel who have access, or control access to nuclear weapons,
or who are involved in training in the use of nuclear weapons.
Look for the identifier in both of the health and service records.
Reference (b) SECNAVINST 5510.35
Drug and alcohol incidents require action on your part. Use of certain medications also
may require notification. Take the time to look it up. Attention to detail is very
important in the PRP.
"No Dive Chit"
Temporary contraindications to diving include:
URI, sinusitis, otitis media and/or conditions that interfere with equalizing.
Alcoholic/drug intoxication; sedative or hypnotic use.
If there are any questions contact an undersea medical officer.
Document duty limitations on SF 600. Consult with a DMO for problem cases. Always keep
in mind that a diver's life may depend on your ability to forecast a medical problem that
is insignificant if it occurs on land but can be deadly while diving.
MANMED, Chapters 15 and 16
Revised by CDR Bruce A. Cohen, MC, USN, Officer in Charge, Naval Undersea Medical
Institute, Groton, CT. (1998).