Mine Clearance Diving Officer

Group: Officer
Job Availability: Full Time

The Role

As a Mine Clearance Diving Officer (MCDO), you will work both above and under the water. You will lead a team of divers in the water doing explosive ordnance disposal, maritime security and mine clearance tasks. You will also manage the overall diving function including safety management, working ashore in a headquarters providing advice about diving capabilities, and commanding a dive team. As an MCDO, you will initially be in charge of a team of up to 10 personnel, and you will be responsible for their continued training, well being, career progression, and the maintenance of dive equipment.

As your career progresses, you will move into command positions, commanding combined detachments of up to 50 personnel overseas on operations and exercises. MCDOs are the Navy's experts in clearance diving, mine counter measures, under water engineering, explosive ordnance disposal and improvised explosive device disposal.

An MCDO is a specialisation of the Warfare Officer role. You will gain the knowledge and opportunities that come with the Warfare Officer role and can also become part of the command team for the RNZN’s Diving Support Vessel or the soon to be commissioned Littoral Operations Ship.

The role of an MCDO is demanding physically and mentally. An MCDO needs to be fit and be able to work in extremely testing conditions. Once you are qualified as an MCDO you can expect various postings: to the Clearance Diving Group, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Squadron, operational deployments to Coalition-led missions, and at sea on the RNZN's Diving Support Vessel as you progress through your career

Job on base

While on base, you will be posted to the Clearance Diving Group as a Team Leader. You will have an important part to play in the planning of future operations and exercises. Your experience and professional ability will be tested as many other Defence Force organisations will come to you for diving assistance and expert advice. Likewise, you will need to assist your team who have equipment issues or organisational matters to resolve. In addition, you can expect to carry out weekly diving to maintain underwater skills, conduct morning physical training as a unit and complete reports, planning and projects.

As an MCDO, you will be in charge of a team of up to 10 personnel, and you will be responsible for their continued training, well being, career progression, and the maintenance of dive equipment.


Deployments will range from explosive ordnance disposal in the Solomon Islands, or mine clearance in the Arabian Gulf, to deep sea search and recovery assisting the NZ Police. On deployment you will likely be the only Diving Officer and will run the RNZN dive operations using your diving knowledge and experience for planning and good decision making.

Deployment periods can vary from 1 week to 6 months, testing the resilience of your team and ultimately you and how you maintain focus and motivation. Deployments rely on long hours, hard work and operate in extreme climates, so as a Team Leader you will be the back bone to the success of an operation. Though deployments sound hard, they provide an opportunity to use your specialised training and give great satisfaction and reward on completion. 

Career Progression

Initially your career path will be the same as a Warfare Officer; however, it will branch off early focusing on military diving within the RNZN. On completion of Basic Officer of the Watch (OOW) Course, you will post to the RNZN’s Dive Tender to gain experience. You will also complete the Defence Diver course (DDC) with the RNZN Dive School. The DDC is an intensive and demanding four week course in which you will learn Military Diving to a depth of 30m.

Once qualified as an OOW(A)/(W), you will then be posted to the Littoral Warfare Unit as part of the Clearance Diving and Mine Warfare Group. This is where your career will now be focused on gaining the exciting and extensive knowledge and skills required to become an MCDO. You will be posted here for up to 6 months to gain experience and develop as an operator, before proceeding to the UK for Clearance Diving and Mine Warfare courses. On successful completion of courses, you will be awarded the MCDO Badge.

As you gain experience and progress within your roles, you can expect to complete the NZ Improvised Explosive Device Disposal course where you will learn duties as the Team Leader. This qualification will enable you to counter maritime IED threats, which are a significant threat to naval vessels globally. In addition to IED training, you may have an opportunity to complete the Joint Operations Planning Course which is held in Wellington. This course will deliver the Defence Force standard for deployment planning and operations in a Joint warfare environment. On this course you will work alongside fellow Army and Air Force Officers.

An MCDO has the ability to work in a number of different roles, either actively out on the water with the diving detachments, on the Diving Support Vessel, in operational headquarters planning and executing tasks, and in strategic headquarters, providing advice about diving capability and equipment, helping to develop the future for this area.

Pay & Benefit Details

Careers in the Navy are well-rewarded, as well as being diverse and exciting. As you become more experienced and move up through the ranks, gaining additional skills and qualifications, you will see your salary rise accordingly.

While undertaking Officer Training you will hold the Rank of Midshipman (see attached pay table). On graduation from your commissioning course your rank and pay will increase based on your trade speciality and qualification level.

General Requirements

  • You must be at least 17 years of age.
  • Meet the citizenship & security requirements to gain TSV security clearance for this trade.
  • You must be free of any criminal convictions.

Don’t meet minimum requirements?

Educational Requirements

Direct Entry

You must have achieved NCEA level 2 with a minimum of 12 credits in level 2 English.

University Scheme

You must have achieved NCEA level 3 with University Entrance.

Find out more about the NCEA levels and certificate requirements

Fitness Requirements

  • You must be medically fit for service.
  • Colour perception restrictions may apply.
Selection Requirements

Candidates interested in a career as a MCDO need to conduct specialist diving selection in addition to Warfare Officer selection, and meet higher medical and fitness requirements.

On selection for MCDO selection boards, you will need to do a diving medical to confirm you can complete the diving selection. 

MCDO selection will start a day earlier than your Warfare Officer counterparts. This day is used to assess your aptitude for diving tasks, including a test dive in our facilities and an introduction visit to the Littoral Warfare Unit and HMNZS MANAWANUI if she is available. The purpose of the test dive will prove candidates are confident in breathing from a CABA/SCUBA set underwater and remain composed when conducting underwater drills e.g. removal of diving mask.

At this stage you would also be able to talk with current MCDOs and ask any questions you might have.

On completion of the day, candidates will then join a Warfare Officer syndicate and complete a Warfare Officer selection board. As MCDO is a specialisation of Warfare Officer, unsuccessful completion of the MCDO specialist day will not prevent selection as a non-specialised Warfare Officer.


Job Training

As a MCDO, you join as a Warfare Officer with a planned specialisation in diving. You will establish an important foundation in Warfare Officer skills, before accelerating your development in diving competencies. You can expect your career and training to follow the below plan, although it may vary in the later stages depending on timings and courses:

Officer of the Watch (Bravo)

Duration: 12 Weeks
Location: Devonport Naval Base
Following Recruit Course you will attend the OOW(B) course covering:
• Ship navigation
• International rules for prevention of collision at Sea
• Conning a ship (driving)

This course teaches you the fundamentals to navigate a RNZN Warship and sets you up to do the Advanced OOW Course.

Defence Diver Course

Duration: 4 weeks
Location: Devonport Naval Base
This will teach you the fundamentals of Defence Diving, to a depth of 30m. You will learn how to:
• Complete seabed and ships hull searches underwater
• Complete all maintenance related to military diving
• Complete all shipborne underwater maintenance tasks.
• Placement of limpet mine disposal equipment

Once you learn the fundamentals of navigation and ship handling, you need to learn about Defence diving and how to operate as a diving specialist.

OOW Advanced Course (A + W)

Duration: 16 weeks
Location: Devonport Naval Base
This course will teach you advanced navigation techniques such as:
• Ocean navigation using celestial means (navigating by the stars)
• Large ship manoeuvring techniques for Frigates
• Air, submarine and surface warfare

Common Warfare Officers Course

Duration: 4 weeks
Location: Devonport Naval Base
This course will extend your warfare knowledge and is designed to cover Principal Warfare Officer (PWO) skills that are not taught on the MCDO course.

MCDO Course

Duration: 13 months
Location: Portsmouth, UK
This is the specialist MCDO course where you finally get to specialise in Military Diving. This course is broken into 4 phases:
• The Clearance Diving Officers course
• The Explosive Ordnance Disposal Course
• Advanced Underwater EOD course
• Mine Warfare Officers course
On successful completion of these courses you will be awarded your MCDO badge and return to NZ for postings to the Clearance Diving Group or LOSC. 

Ongoing Training

Within the RNZN you have the opportunity to complete tertiary study through the ESA scheme. This scheme allows you to complete university papers part time and is paid for by the NZ Defence Force. You will also complete Leadership courses such as the Lead Leaders or Lead Systems course which provide vital tools and techniques you as a leader will need on a daily basis. 

Specialist Training

In addition to the MCDO specialisation, you may wish to pursue the Principle Warfare Officers (PWO) qualification. This course is 12 months long and specialises in warfighting from a ship. Warfare that is covered is naval gunnery, air defence warfare, submarine warfare, surface warfare, amphibious warfare and cyber warfare. This qualification will see you leave the Diving trade for up to 3 years where you will join one of the two ANZAC Class frigates the RNZN has; HMNZS TE MANA or TE KAHA.

Location Details

Following your training you may be posted to any of the following bases:
• RN Fleet Diving Squadron, Portsmouth, UK
• HQJFNZ, Wellington
• US Maritime EOD Team, San Diego, USA 


Army Officer

Navy Diver

Warfare Officer