Skip to content

Building a career at sea

Born and raised in Nipaluna on the island of Lutruwita, also known as Hobart in Tasmania, Trent Stephens has been building his career on the water since completing high school.  

Having commenced his first job working on Tasmania’s D’entrecasteux channel salmon farms in a harvest role, Trent gained an in-depth understanding of aquaculture, but it was his drive to do something bigger that led him towards Serco.

“I was actually keen on getting on the Huon well-boats, which are Norwegian flagged vessels that travel up and down the channel servicing the fish pens, transport salmon smolt to sea, transfer them from farm sites to harvest pens, and to bathe them,” Trent said.

“I got chatting to some of the well-boat crew and that was when I found out what an Integrated Rating was.”

Trent then began pursuing avenues to enrol into a course to gain a Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Integrated Rating), which was when he came across an opportunity to become an Indigenous Trainee Integrated Rating onboard RSV Nuyina, Australia’s new icebreaker.  

In 2016, Serco was awarded the contract for the Design, Build, Operation and Maintenance of RSV Nuyina. The word 'nuyina’ (pronounced noy‑yee‑nah) means ‘southern lights’ in palawa kani, the language of Tasmanian Aboriginals.

The Nuyina is a state-of-the-art ship that provides scientists unprecedented and extended access to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. One of the most advanced vessels of its kind in the world, the RSV Nuyina is a scientific research platform, icebreaker, and resupply ship in one, and will serve Australia’s interests in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean for the next 30 years.

Australia's new icebreaker, RSV Nuyina at sea

Under this Traineeship, Trent was able to complete a 12-week course in Launceston at the Australian Maritime College and is now being hosted by Serco to gain valuable sea service aboard RSV Nuyina in support of the Australian Antarctic Program.

“I was so excited when I came across this opportunity as I have always been interested in Antarctica. This job gives me the best of both worlds – I get to work on Australia’s most advanced ship, and I get to work in Antarctica,” Trent said.

“In this role I do all sorts of different tasks. I help in the engine room and work as a deckhand, practicing general seamanship skills such as knot tying and splicing, lookout on the bridge, preparing sling loads ready for crane operations, crewing the transfer tenders, and assisting with moving cargo to the helideck. A bit of everything, which makes it really interesting.”

“As part of the Integrated Rating qualification I can also act as a trainee helmsmen under the watch of the Master or Navigational Watch.”

Trainee onboard RSV Nuyina smiling at the camera with an Antarctica sunset in the background

On his first voyage in the Southern Ocean, Trent assisted with the resupply operation of Macquarie Island.

“It was amazing to see the helicopter lifts off the forward hatch, flying in close proximity to the ship and slinging big container pallets underneath,” Trent explained.  

“The next day we had simultaneous operations with the helideck operating as well as LARCs – amphibious landing barges – transporting supplies to shore.”

Aside from taking part in these exciting operations, Trent enjoys learning how to operate all the equipment onboard Nuyina, but it is working with the people onboard that he appreciates the most.

“We have some really highly-skilled people that are always willing to teach you how to do things well and safely, and I have got so much out of this experience so far.”

Looking into the future, Trent is interested in being up on the bridge.

“I have had a lot of time to think about what interests me and I am keen to learn more about the bridge, and potentially also doing further studies to become an Officer of the Watch and maybe even Captain one day.”  

We look forward to following Trent’s journey through his traineeship and seeing where he takes his career on the sea next.

More people stories