The Office for Undersea Archeological Research was founded in 1966 by André Malraux, and was renamed Department for Underwater and Undersea Archeological Research on 4 January 1996. It is a national service located in Marseilles, and is a division of Heritages Organization of the French Ministry of Culture.
Its aim is to manage all subaquatic and submarine archeological activities. It is qualified to deal with all matters of archeological research that involve diving, is charged formally to control submarine archeological research and discoveries, and to implement the legislation on maritime cultural goods.
The area of authority is particularly large, because it covers over 10,000 km of coastal lines, 5,533 of which are in cities. It extends 24 nautical miles, a little over 44 km, outward from the shoreline, to span a surface of over 11,000,000 square km.