Seamanship combat specialist

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.

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

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. In special circumstances Seamanship Combat Specialists may be required to work up to 18 hours a day at sea, depending upon the ship’s requirements. Service at sea is for a period determined by the requirements of the Navy, but Seamanship Combat Specialists should expect to spend the first few years of their career at sea.

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 and patrolling New Zealand's territorial waters.  Peacekeeping opportunities as part of a deployed force are also available. Seamanship Combat Specialists at sea are responsible for a specific part of ship, and become experts in the completion of specific tasks or naval ‘evolutions’.

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 (see attached pay table). 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.

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

You must have achieved the NCEA level 1 Literacy and Numeracy requirements.

Find out more about the NCEA levels and certificate requirements

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

Upon successful enlistment into the Navy you’ll be posted to Devonport Navy base in Auckland. Here you will do complete your basic training. Find out more about basic training.

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


  • Small arms firing
  • Weapons security
  • Ammunition & pyrotechnics
  • Gunnery lookouts
  • Parade and Ceremonial


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

All sailors are provided opportunities through their chain of command to conduct further training both within and outside of their branches to further themselves within the RNZN.

Personnel are required to undertake additional specialist courses for further promotion. On these courses Seamanship Combat Specialists have the opportunity to undertake the Maritime Safety Authority approved Small Boat Coxswain Course and Inshore Launch-Master courses. These are recognised civilian qualifications for boat operations in New Zealand. You will also conduct crane courses and height safety courses. These courses will also give you more qualifications through NZQA. You will also have the opportunity to further develop your understanding of small arms and self defence courses.

You will be predominantly posted at Devonport Naval Base unless posted to sea.