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Chief Skipper

Vessel Operations
Employment type
Full Time



Our department

Turning 150 years old in 2019, the University of Otago is New Zealand's first and oldest University. It has a strong teaching and research tradition and a well-established national and international reputation.

Established in 1992, the Department of Marine Science is a multidisciplinary department with research strengths in both biological and physical marine sciences.

We have dedicated residential research facilities in Otago Harbour, Stewart Island, and Fiordland and we operate a fleet of vessels, ranging from small runabouts for harbour work, through to the 21-m RV Polaris II, capable of visiting sub-Antarctic islands.

About the role

Joining the Department of Marine Science in the role of Chief Skipper will see you responsible for skippering vessels in addition to the management of the operation of fleet vessels, vessel support personnel and vessel based fieldwork. The expectation is that you will spend up to 80% of your time skippering vessels with the remainder of your time spent on managerial activity.

In this role, you will ensure that all vessel and vessel based fieldwork complies with Maritime New Zealand rules, requirements and guidelines, New Zealand statutory requirements, and Otago University policies while ensuring that teaching, research, outreach and applied science goals are met.

Key tasks:

  • Operate research vessels for teaching, research and commercial contract activities.
  • Direction of all aspects concerning the management and administration for all vessel (fleet) operations and support personnel for the Department of Marine Science.
  • Direct responsibility for sub-Antarctic and offshore expeditions.
  • Protect the University of Otago's liabilities and ensure that all vessel and vessel based fieldwork complies with Maritime Rules, requirements and guidelines.
  • Providing professional, efficient and effective leadership, management and direction of the activities and budgets for all fleet vessels and vessel personnel.
  • Oversee and supervise maintenance of department vessels and vehicles e.g. hull, wheelhouse, deck and all associated marine equipment. This includes all necessary electrical and engine maintenance.
  • Manage staff recruitment and ensure the employment of suitably experienced and trained crew consistent with industry standards, statutory regulations and University of Otago policies and procedures.

Your skills and experience:

  • Proven fleet management experience.
  • Experience acting at the level of senior vessel management, including experience working towards positive outcomes for human resources and financial management activities.
  • Qualifications to be no less than Skipper Coastal/Offshore and Marine Engineer Class 4 or equivalent.
  • Comprehensive experience in the maritime environment, specifically southern New Zealand coastal areas and/or experience in running a small research vessel.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Good computer skills, including competence with Word and Excel.
  • Proven team player, motivated by providing excellent solutions for staff and students alike.

Further Details

This is a permanent, full-time position.

The salary level for this position is Management Band 1 (Range of Appointments $79,698 to $87,723 to Top of Range $95,747) plus a boat allowance of $7,790 per annum.


This position represents an exciting opportunity to join the Department of Marine Science and contribute to the long history of top-quality marine research and teaching here at the University of Otago.

Applications quoting reference number 1901601 will close on Sunday, 29 September 2019.

Apply Instructions


To view all current vacancies and to apply online go to:

Equal opportunity in employment is University policy.

E tautoko ana Te Whare Wananga o Otago i te kaupapa whakaorite whiwhinga mahi.

University of Otago

University of Otago


Otago, New Zealand