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 months or up to a year before the team assembles 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 apply for and secure permits from governments or national management agencies to work in the expedition area and to collect any samples that are requested. Expedition Leaders help write an expedition overview, 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. Assembling the information for an expedition overview is the first step to writing more specific plans for ROV dives or assembling the list of scientific equipment needed for each mission.

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.