Expedition Leader

Expedition Leader working on deck
Ocean Exploration Trust

The Expedition Leader’s role is to facilitate an expedition coming together to ensure all teams aboard Nautilus have the resources they need to complete their exploration goals. Onboard, the Expedition Leader works closely with team leads (Lead Navigator, Lead ROV Pilot, Communications Lead, Lead Video Engineer, and Lead Scientist), organizes safety trainings with the crew, runs the all-hands meetings which kick-off each expedition, and communicates frequently with the Captain to monitor the ship systems and at-sea weather conditions. Expedition Leaders also help to prioritize the many simultaneous goals of each team to keep an expedition on schedule.

An Expedition Leader is involved in planning expeditions in the weeks to months leading up to the team assembling on the ship. This person works closely with the mission’s Lead Scientist and OET's Chief Scientist / Vice President of Exploration and Science Operations to ensure the expedition meets the science team's goals. Expedition Leaders utilize an expedition overview, which is a summary of the scientific background of the area, the expedition’s planned work, the significance of the work, and any key messages that are important to share with public audiences about the mission. This overview includes maps of the area and resources which help each team prepare for ROV dives or multibeam sonar mapping in the area. The information in an expedition overview is the first step to writing a more detailed "cruise plan" and is shared with the registered Scientists Ashore prior to a pre-cruise community call. During the science community call, the wider scientific community is briefed on the lead scientist's goals and in turn, community exploration interests are discussed for incorporation in the cruise plan. The cruise plan is the blueprint for the cruise with specific ROV dive site and mapping information, a list of scientific equipment, and a sailing participants list. 

There is one Expedition Leader per Nautilus expedition. The Expedition Leader does not stand a regular watch schedule but is on-call around the clock to help resolve problems or step in to assist any teams that need an extra set of hands. The Expedition Leader is also often involved in launching and recovering ROVs Hercules and Argus at the beginning and end of dives.  

Career Pathways

Expedition Leaders have many different education backgrounds and average at least ten years of experience working on expeditions at sea. Some Expedition Leaders aboard Nautilus have academic training, degrees, and/or research experience in fields like geology, seafloor mapping, archaeology, and more. Skills which are especially important to succeeding in this role are collaboration skills like teamwork, delegation, public speaking, conflict resolution, and active listening.

Other careers with similar skill sets include: port engineer, maritime/military officer, supply chain manager, professor, marine operations manager, and more.