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If you are tough, both mentally and physically, get stuck into this adrenalin packed role, boarding enemy vessels and providing security and maintenance for our ships.

  • Service
  • Specialisation
    Navigation, Combat and Security
  • Location
  • Starting Trade Training
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About the role

Seamanship Combat Specialists are the experts in the control and conduct of all seamanship operations, gunnery tasks, boardings of other vessels and force protection (ships security). They conduct all aspects of ship’s cleanliness and upper deck maintenance. As a Seamanship Combat Specialist your role is mentally and physically demanding, whether driving the Navy RHIBs (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats), undertaking fire fighting exercises, searching boats for illegal cargo, conducting refuellings at sea and all small arm weapon drills and training. Seamanship Combat Specialists are also responsible for all parade and ceremonial duties as well as seamanship training, Force Protection (ship and ashore security) and Boarding Team training. You will need to be a team player who works well with others, be flexible and adaptable to change at short notice.

Job on base

Shore positions for Seamanship Combat Specialists are available at the Sea Safety Training Squadron, the Small Arms Training Unit, the Naval Boat Yard, the wet and dry side Seamanship Training Aids facility and at the Ceremonial Parade Ground, assisting with ceremonial and parade duties.

Job on deployment

Following the Seamanship Combat Specialist course, personnel are usually posted to sea to begin on-the-job training that consolidates the skills that you learnt on course, and provides the experience required for the first promotion to Able Seamanship Combat Specialist. Whilst at sea, you will drive the ship, conduct lookout duties and other specialist and general tasks. Depending on the ship’s requirements, in special circumstances Seamanship Combat Specialists may be required to work up to 18 hours a day at sea. Service at sea is for a period determined by the requirements of the Navy, but Seamanship Combat Specialists should expect to spend the first several years of their career on Ships at sea.

Career progression and training

Career Progression

Basic Training

Job Training

Advanced Training

Specialist Training

Following your initial training, you will spend the majority of your career at sea to first consolidate and then develop your skills. Postings ashore and at sea will follow and professional training with further training assisting with your professional development and career progression. There are opportunities for Seamanship Combat Specialists on all Navy Ships, whether they are carrying out long range combat missions or patrolling
New Zealand's territorial waters.  Peacekeeping opportunities as part of a deployed force are also available as your career progresses up the ranks.

During a typical day in the life of a Seamanship Combat Specialist you would expect to:

  • Conduct Ship driving and look out duties on the ship’s bridge
  • Conduct Replenishments at Sea (transfer of fuel and equipment between ships at sea)
  • Crew the ship’s RHIB during Man Overboard drills
  • Be a member of a ship’s firefighting team
  • Conduct Boarding and ship Protection Operations
  • Fire a .50 calibre machine gun and other small arms weapons
  • Assist other members of the ship in the use of small arms weapons
  • Perform routine maintenance tasks

Upon successful enlistment into the Navy you will be posted to Devonport, Auckland. Here you will do 16 weeks of basic military training to find out if you have what it takes to be in the Navy, and learn various subjects including:

  • Teamwork and support
  • Naval history and customs
  • Drill and parades
  • Core mariner skills and weapons training
  • First aid and firefighting
  • Physical fitness
  • Self-discipline

Following Basic Common Training, you will undertake training in the following areas:


  • Helmsman duties
  • Bridge lookout
  • Slipping & berthing
  • Boat operations (Recovery of personnel and materials from the sea)
  • Anchoring
  • Crane operations & rigging
  • Underway replenishment (Refuelling)
  • Towing
  • Upper deck maintenance & general ship’s cleanliness

Weapons operations:

  • Small arms firing
  • Weapons security
  • Ammunition & pyrotechnics
  • Gunnery lookouts

Maritime Military Operations:

  • Boarding party training
  • Searching boarded vessels to assess activities and cargo
  • Use of force in operations
  • Boats crew
  • Weapon crew
  • Force protection & sentry duty
  • Parade and Ceremonial

Following this initial training phase, you will complete on the job training where you will be posted to a ship to complete a task book to enable career progression and promotion. You can reasonably be expected to have attained a basic level of competence within 18 months of joining.

Advanced training will involve both leadership skills and development as a Seamanship Combat Specialist. Successful completion of these will qualify you for promotion to Leading Seamanship Combat Specialist. This will be supplemented by sea postings and further training to prepare you for supervisory roles. Eventually, you may be responsible for training and supervising personnel junior to you in Seamanship, Combat and Ceremonial duties. 

For further promotion, Seamanship Combat Specialists have the opportunity to undertake the following Maritime Safety Authority approved courses:

  • Coastguard Day Skippers & Royal Yachting Association powerboat Level 2 certificate
  • Coastguard Boatmaster & Royal Yachting Association powerboat Level 2 certificate
  • Certificate in Domestic Maritime Operations

These are recognised civilian qualifications for boat operations in New Zealand.

Courses completed throughout your first three years will provide you with NZQA Level 3 Deck Hand, alongside other NZQA qualifications. You will conduct crane and height safety courses, and have the opportunity to further develop your understanding of small arms and self-defence courses.

Your hard work, experience and training accomplishments as a Seamanship Combat Specialist will be rewarded with promotions in rank and salary.

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Salary and benefits

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 Basic Recruit Course you will be paid as a Recruit. On completion of your Recruit Course you will be paid as an Ordinary Rate and your pay will continue to increase as your career progresses.


Under Initial Training


Starting Trade Training


Future Potential Earnings

Figures updated on July 1st 2023

Benefits and allowances

Earn a competitive salary while training or learning your trade, along with additional allowances for time spent in the field, at sea, overseas, or deployed on operations.

In addition to salary and allowances, other benefits of joining the New Zealand Defence Force include:

Access to your Service marae or tūrangawaewae

Sponsored tertiary study programmes at all levels

Free access to gyms and swimming pools on camp and bases

Opportunities to travel

Free and subsidised medical and dental care

Subsidised food and accomodation on camps and bases

Free and subsidised insurance cover

Help to buy a home and save for retirement

Entry requirements



Medical and Fitness


Period of Service

  • Be a minimum of 17 years of age upon entry.
  • Be free of any criminal conviction for the previous two years.

3 years secondary school. Note, qualifications may be used to assess trade suitability.

There are strict citizenship and security requirements to gain the CV security clearance required for this trade. You must be free of any criminal convictions for the previous two years.

Find out if you’re eligible here.

There may be a return of service period for this trade.

Please contact our 0800 number or talk to your Candidate Experience Facilitator for more information.


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