About the Job
Hydrography is the branch of applied sciences which deals with the measurement and description of the physical features of oceans, seas, coastal areas, lakes and rivers, as well as with the prediction of their change over time, for the primary purpose of safety of navigation and in support of all other marine activities, including economic development, security and defence, scientific research, and environmental protection.
The Royal Australian Navy through the Australian Hydrographic Service is the Commonwealth Government agency responsible for production of Australia's official nautical charts (paper and electronic), Tide Tables and other nautical publications for all ships navigating the seas and oceans around Australia. The charting area for the Hydrographic Survey Fleet covers one eighth of the Earth's surface, stretching as far west as Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, east to Norfolk Island in the Pacific Ocean and from the Solomon Islands to the Antarctic.
When you join the Navy and successfully complete the recruit and initial category training, you will be employed as a Hydrographic Surveyor (known in the Navy as a Hydrographic Systems Operator). You can be expected to undertake tasks such as:
- The collection processing of hydrographic data utilising sophisticated computer systems and equipment such as multi-beam and single beam echo-sounders, sonar, GPS and other navigation systems
- The collection processing of oceanographic data by taking seabed samples, observing water clarity and temperature, measuring the speed of sound through water and observing bioluminescence
- Conduct tide camps, field operations and Rapid Environmental Assessments
- Conduct seamanship evolutions including anchor work, rope work, small boat handling and operations, berthing, towing and deploying and recovering surveying equipment such as side scan sonars and moving vessel profilers
- Conduct watchkeeping duties at sea such as lookout, helmsman and survey systems operator.
Other tasks in addition to general HS duties include:
- Form part of teams to fight fire, toxic hazards, floods and conduct casualty location and rescue
- Form part of teams to conduct Force Protection to maintain the security of the ship at sea or alongside against a full range of potential threats
- Keep duties that involve maintaining the security and integrity of the ship or base for a 24 hour period
Further information about the Australian Hydrographic Service is available at the website of the Australian Hydrographic Service. .
Other Ranks - Non Technical
Join the ADF with appropriate high school passes
Preparing for Your Recruitment Process
This document provides information that will assist applicants for roles in the Navy, Army and Air Force, including details about the recruitment process, how to prepare yourself for assessment, and what to expect if you are successful in joining the Australian Defence Force.
Salary & Allowances
In the Navy you'll get paid a good salary from day one regardless of your age, experience or qualifications; and your pay increases as you progress through training.
In addition to your salary you'll receive a variety of allowances, extra pay for relevant qualifications – plus 16.4% superannuation, a far higher rate than you're likely to find in the civilian world.
The average sea posting for a HSO is generally 2-3 years and due to the nature of the job, you can normally be expected to complete a couple of sea postings in a row before proceeding to a shore posting for approximately two years duration. Some of the more recent survey areas have included Papua New Guinea, Arnhem Land and Torres Strait.
As a HSO at sea you can be employed in any of the six Hydrographic vessels:
- Hydrographic Ships - HMA ships Leeuwin and Melville operate a single crew concept. The maximum number of Hydrographic Surveyors onboard a HS Crew is 19.
- Survey Motor Launches (SML) - HMA ships Paluma, Mermaid, Shepparton and Benalla. These ships generally operate in pairs and are designed for operations in shallower and more constrained waters. Their twin hulls provide good stability in heavy conditions, along with good living room and space below the main deck. The maximum number of Hydrographic Surveyors onboard an SML is four.
All Hydrographic vessels operate out of HMAS Cairns in Cairns (homeport), North Queensland.
As a HSO ashore, you may remain employed in the Cairns area however; there are still a number of posting options available at different locations around Australia:
- Cairns located in Cairns, North Queensland has over 900 Navy and civilian personnel and is the homeport for 14 Navy vessels. Cairns' primary responsibility is to provide maintenance, logistic and administrative support for the Cairns-based units. As a HSO you can be employed in the Bosun Store, Hydrographic Support Cell, Fleet Training Advisory Cell or the Hydrography and METOC Group.
- The Hydrographic Branch also contains four Deployable Geospatial Support Teams (DGST) based at HMAS Waterhen in Sydney and HMAS Cairns. A DGST's primary role is to carry out strategic surveys of areas for Advanced Forces under Amphibious Operations or provide surveys in response to natural disasters. They provide a deployable survey team that can be available at short notice. These small units (consisting of four Hydrographic Surveyors each) conduct operations around the Australian coast on an opportunity basis. DGST may also deploy to Antarctica during the summer season in support of the Australian Antarctic Division's survey and science program.
- The Maritime Geospatial Training Center (MGTC) is located at HMAS Penguin in Mosman, Sydney. Here you will be involved in the training component of the category, promoting a positive learning environment based on effective instructional coaching and interpersonal skills. As a member of the MGTC, you are responsible for providing trainees with the skills needed for employment in the units and ships of the Australian Hydrographic Service.
- Australian Hydrographic Office (AHO) located in Wollongong, NSW is the home of the Australian Hydrographic Service and is the Commonwealth Government agency responsible for the publication and distribution of nautical charts (paper and electronic) and other information required for the safety of ships navigating in Australian water. Here you will validate and witness where the data you collected at sea is manipulated to produce the navigational products available to mariners. There is also other functions carried out at the AHO which are classified as Defence functions. These include but are not limited to, enable freedom of maneuver in Australia’s maritime domain and also enable ADF assets to exploit the above and below water physical operating environment for strategic, operational and tactical advantage.
More information on the Ships and Bases associated with the Hydrographic Surveyor Category is available at the website of the Navy.
Applicants must be at least 17 years of age and able to complete the Initial Minimum Period of Service before reaching Compulsory Retirement Age (60).
Applicants will not be allowed to enter the ADF until they achieve a minimum of 17 years of age, however they may be able to initiate the application process from 16 years and six months of age, depending upon the capacity of their local recruiting centre.
Education & Experience
The minimum educational standard for Hydrographic Surveyors is successful completion of Year 10 with mandatory passes in English, Mathematics and Science (preferably with a Physics component).
Medical & Fitness
To be appointed, you must be medically and physically fit for entry into the ADF. This is partially assessed from the completion of an extensive questionnaire covering your medical history, followed by a physical examination.
You will also be required to successfully pass a physical fitness test before appointment.
For more details on medical and physical fitness standards refer to Physical Fitness Standards for Entry into the ADF, Medical Process for Entry into the ADF and Physical Employment Standards once you're in the ADF.
You must also pass the swim test and physical fitness test to graduate from your Navy Training and to proceed to the Safety of Life at Sea Training that is a requirement for Recruit School and Officer training.
Royal Australian Navy Swim Test (RANST)
The RANST is conducted to ensure the Navy's duty of care to all serving personnel, with respect to rudimentary swimming skills. The purpose of the RANST is to ensure fundamental water survival skills as a prerequisite to training such as survival at sea training.
Individual components of the RANST are fundamentally related to the survival at sea scenario. Competency in the RANST is achieved through successful completion of each component comprising:
- A safety jump off a 3m tower in overalls
- A 10m underwater swim in overalls
- A 50m swim using three safety strokes
- The ability to tread water or float for 15 mins (removal of overalls optional)
Note: You will find it much easier to pass the swimming test if you undertake swimming training before you join.
All personnel will undertake the RANST upon entry and competency is to be achieved within 15 weeks from commencement of initial training. Failure of any one component will constitute failure of the entire RANST and no waivers will be granted.
Period of Service
You will be enlisted for an Initial Minimum Period of Service (IMPS) of four years. On enlistment if you elect to serve an open ended enlistment, you will be able to serve until retirement age, subject to your continued suitability for service. If you elect to serve for a fixed period of service, subsequent periods of service may be offered subject to the requirements of the ADF and your suitability for further service. Your Careers Coach can advise on how IMPS will relate to your chosen occupation.
The application process to join the Australian Defence Force requires you to complete a series of aptitude tests which may include verbal, spatial and numerical ability and a general maths test. Some jobs may also require you to complete additional testing at a later date.
Psychology support staff will explain what is involved with each test.
The aptitude tests provide information about your suitability for the Defence Force and for particular jobs. Defence Force Recruiting can then help you identify jobs that best match your abilities.
Further information on the aptitude testing requirements can be found here.
Only Australian Citizens are permitted to serve in the ADF.
If you are a permanent resident of Australia, the ADF may consider a temporary waiver of the citizenship requirement if the position for which you are applying cannot be filled by an applicant who meets all the citizenship requirements, and then only in exceptional circumstances. You will be required to obtain Australian Citizenship as early as possible following enlistment or appointment.
The security clearance is critical to an applicant’s successful progression through to Navy employment and training. It is strongly recommended that all applicants provide the required documents as early as possible in the recruiting process to avoid any delays in their training and employment.
Details regarding the security requirements for all Navy jobs can be found here.
Duration: 11 weeks
Location: Crib Point, Victoria
The Recruit School at HMAS Cerberus is situated on Western Port Bay, Victoria about 70 kilometres south east of Melbourne. The school has its own administration building, accommodation blocks and classrooms and operates as an independent unit within the greater training environment of Cerberus.
The eleven week recruit course is designed to give you sufficient knowledge and skills on which to base your Navy career. The course includes both classroom and practical activities. Most subjects are individually tested. Examinations are set to ensure recruits are sufficiently prepared to undertake further specialist training at category schools. Private study areas are available in the school and a Duty Instructor is available for assistance during non-instructional hours.
Recruits, who successfully complete the course including the Navy Swimming Test , participate in a Graduation Parade, which is normally held on the Friday of the last week of training. Recruits will have the opportunity to invite family and friends to view the parade.
After graduation, personnel will be posted to category schools at Cerberus or at other training establishments throughout Australia.
During Military (Initial Recruit) Training and Initial Employment Training (IET), members may be required to pay a contribution towards meals, accommodation and utilities, depending on a number of factors.
Duration: 4 weeks
Location: HMAS Cerberus, near Hastings, VIC
Basic Combat Survivability Course
Duration: 1 week
Basic Hydrographic Surveyor
Duration: 10 weeks
Location: HMAS Penguin, Middle Head, Sydney, NSW
The Basic Hydrographic Surveyor Course includes the following subjects:
- Introduction to the Hydrographic Service, mathematics, the nautical chart, maps, projections and units of measure, science refresher training; boat handling (theory and practical), principals of the echo sounder (theory and practical), and electronic surveying equipment
- Satellite (GPS) position fixing systems, installation of permanent survey marks, tidal theory and measurement, optical and mechanical surveying equipment and observations, construction of campsites (theory and practical)
- Survey records, survey computer systems, hydrographic surveying systems, oceanographic equipment and obtaining marine samples, sonar theory and operation.
- Land surveying techniques (angle and distance measurement), and
- Geospatial data manipulation, ARCGIS and other geospatial software for the production of Geospatial Information related to products for the end user.
During your Initial Minimum Period of Service (IMPS) of four years, you will get a comprehensive appreciation for the duties and postings associated with the Hydrographic Surveyor Category. When you join the RAN you will conduct Recruit training, Basic Seamanship Course and the Basic Hydrographic Surveyor Course. Upon successful completion of these courses you can expect to be posted straight to sea to consolidate your training.
Your first sea posting will more than likely be to a Hydrographic Ship (HMAS Leeuwin or Melville) Crew where you will have plenty of supervision whilst you hone your skills as a Seaman Hydrographic Systems Operator (SMNHSO). Even when posted to a Hydrographic Ship you are not always at sea. A survey period generally involves a Hydrographic Ship deploying to sea for approximately 8-12 weeks at a time, which is broken up by a port visit every 2 or 3 weeks. Time alongside in your homeport between survey deployments varies between 5-10 weeks.
As a SMNHSO at sea the majority of your tasks will involve a mix of ship watchkeeping or small boat work combined with the data gathering and processing and validation using modern computer based systems. If, within the first 12 months of being a SMNHSO you have been well reported on (similar to a school report card) and completed your Helmsman Certificate, you can expect to be promoted to an Able Seaman Hydrographic Systems Operator (ABHSO).
As an ABHSO you may be required to complete extra courses such as Navigator's Yeoman, Gunner's Yeoman or Shipborne Lifesaving and Survival Equipment Maintainer to enable you to undertake further duties on a Survey platform. Whether you continue your sea posting on a SML or a Hydrographic Ship, your primary focus will be to complete your ABHSO Hydrographic Experience Log to ensure you are competent to conduct all the duties associated with being an ABHSO.
If you complete this log and again, are well reported on, you may become eligible for promotion to Leading Seaman Hydrographic Systems Operator (LSHSO) towards the end of your IMPS. In order to prepare you for promotion to LSHSO, you will be placed on the Intermediate Seamanship Course, Intermediate Hydrographic Systems Operator Course and the Leading Seaman Promotion Course. These courses will help you develop your leadership skills and prepare you for greater responsibility as a LSHSO.