As a Watercraft Operator, you will be required to operate either Inflatable Rescue Boats (IRBs) or Lighter, Resupply Amphibious Cargo (LARC) vessels on resupply voyages to Australia’s 3 Antarctic continental stations, sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island and other remote Southern Ocean locations. You may also be required to operate different types of vessels such as jet barges, Uniflotes, workboats and Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs).

Your primary responsibilities will be to skipper/crew watercraft to deploy, monitor and retrieve ship to shore fuel lines, and undertake ship to shore transfers of passengers and cargo.

Watercraft Operators are employed in summer jobs. Winter positions may be available when required for a specific project. Contracts could be between 5–12 weeks (indicative, may vary due to operational and environmental considerations). 

Suitable persons may be selected from the group of successful Watercraft Operator candidates to work as a Watercraft Coordinator. 

The Australian Antarctic Program’s (AAP) vision is to ensure Antarctica is valued, protected and understood. Working with the AAP provides a unique opportunity to experience Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, while supporting world-leading science.

The AAP aims to support expeditioner growth, professionally and personally, with a focus on wellbeing. We strive to employ versatile, proactive and community minded people. Expeditioners will need to contribute to a small team and be resilient as they face the challenges of living in an isolated environment.

For more detailed information about the requirements of the role and the selection process, please see the job description document and link to more information on the application process below.

Employment conditions

  • The annual base salary when in Australia starts from $85,876 per annum.
  • Base salary + additional allowances when on voyage to and from Antarctica starts from $151,217 per annum.
  • A generous employer superannuation contribution of up to 15.4% will be paid in addition to salary and allowances.
  • You will accrue recreation leave at the equivalent of 20 days per annum pro rata. Please note that recreation leave is not available in Antarctica, but will be paid out on return to Australia.


In accordance with the PS Act 1999, APS employees are required to be Australian citizens. Persons who are not Australian citizens will generally only be considered where there are no suitable Australian applicants, with next considerations being Australian residents with work rights and New Zealand citizens

To apply for this role, you must have the skills and licences listed below:

Qualifications/licences (provide copies in your application): 

  • A current Coxswain 1 certificate. 
  • A current, unrestricted “C” class (manual) Australian driver’s licence.
  • Valid passport when travelling to the Antarctic or sub-antarctic. The expiry date of the passport (and any relevant visa) must be at least 6 months beyond the planned end date of your intended stay in the Antarctic or sub-antarctic.
  • A current statement of attainment in the following units of first aid, or the ability to attain prior to commencement: 
    • Provide First Aid (HLTAID0011) must be valid for at least 18 months beyond the date of AAD commencement. 
    • Provide CPR (HLTAID009) must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of AAD commencement. 

Recent hands-on experience (within the last 5 years): 

  • Operating watercraft (under 15 m in length) in Antarctic/Arctic, sub-antarctic or surf operations or other remote locations 
  • Working to Standard Operating Procedures, Job Hazard Analyses and organisational policies. Candidates must be able to demonstrate a strong safety culture and willingness to comply with safety and environmental policies and procedures. 
  • Writing and presenting concise operational reports and briefing groups on operational requirements. 
  • Broad general experience 


For general enquiries, please email the Hays Expeditioner Recruitment Team at

For job specific (technical or trade related) enquiries, or to discuss the role in more detail, please contact Hays Expeditioner Recruitment Team at or 03 8602 9896.

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