Okeanos Explorer-in-Training Program

Due to the COVID 19 pandemic and for the protection of our interns all Explorer-in-Training voyages for the 2020 field season of the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer have been officially cancelled. Check out some of their great work


Program Description


The NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) is the only federal program dedicated to exploring our deep ocean, closing the prominent gap in our basic understanding of U.S. deep waters and seafloor and delivering the ocean information needed to strengthen the economy, health, and security of our nation.

Using the latest tools and technology, OER explores previously unknown areas of our deep ocean, making discoveries of scientific, economic, and cultural value. Through live video streams, online coverage, training opportunities, and real-time events, OER allows scientists, resource managers, students, members of the general public, and others to actively experience ocean exploration, expanding available expertise, cultivating the next generation of ocean explorers, and engaging the public in exploration activities. From this exploration, OER makes the collected data needed to understand our ocean publicly available, so we can maintain the health of our ocean, sustainably manage our marine resources, accelerate our national economy, and build a better appreciation of the value and importance of the ocean in our everyday lives.

The data collected based on community input informs policies and actions leading to the conservation, management and balanced use of the ocean. The program strives to provide resources and develop technological solutions along with innovative applications to address questions in undersea exploration. A fundamental part of the OER mission is the engagement of the marine science community, general public and training of the next generation of explorers.

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer is the Nation’s only federal vessel dedicated to ocean exploration. The ship is equipped with advanced tools that support systematic exploration of unknown ocean regions. High-resolution sonars, deep-water remotely operated vehicles, and telepresence technology are used to collect baseline information in unexplored areas.

Explorer-in-Training Program Description

NOAA partners with the Cooperative Program for the Advancement of Earth System Science (CPAESS), a community program of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), to coordinate OER’s activities on Okeanos Explorer. CPAESS is currently seeking Mapping trainees to participate in the Okeanos Explorer Explorer-in-Training (EiT) program for the 2020 field season. This program is open to enrolled undergraduate and graduate students as well as individuals who have recently graduated from a higher education program. The EiT program will provide the opportunity to gain experience using an advanced multibeam bathymetric sonar mapping system, while contributing in a significant way to the Okeanos Explorer ocean exploration mission. More information can be found at https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/okeanos/training.html.

Okeanos Explorer exploration for 2020 will focus on the Atlantic Ocean, including the US Exclusive Economic Zone near Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and New England; the Mid Atlantic Ridge, and Atlantic Maritime Canada. Current undergraduate and graduate students, and recent graduates from higher education institutions in these regions are encouraged to apply. Students traditionally underrepresented in the sciences are also encouraged to apply.

Expeditions will occur from April to October of 2020. A typical placement will consist of one (1) 20- to 30-day expedition offshore aboard the Okeanos Explorer. 

Offshore EiTs will stand an eight-hour mapping watch, for seven days a week throughout their cruise assignment(s). The duties of at-sea mapping watch standers typically include the acquisition and processing of multibeam data and associated sound velocity profile data, as well as precise record keeping. Trainees will also complete a project of their own interest, with approval and support from experienced mapping team personnel.


  • US Citizenship required for offshore opportunities
  • Ability to stand an 8-hour at-sea watch
  • Familiarity with Windows and Microsoft Office tools
  • Willingness to learn and follow shipboard Standard Operating Procedures
  • Interest in learning about seafloor mapping operations

Additional Skills

(Preferred but not required, please indicate experience where applicable)

  • Previous experience in the acquisition and processing of multibeam data
  • Previous experience with fisheries or sub-bottom sonars
  • Previous experience with geographic information systems (GIS) software packages
  • Previous at sea experience


A generous pre-tax daily stipend ($150 per day) is provided. Please note that the stipend will be taxed by the Federal government, and the trainees will be provided a 1099 Form at the end of the tax year. Travel costs to and from the ship are covered in addition to the stipend.


Operations at sea inherently entail some safety risks. Applicants are expected to provide their own medical insurance coverage if selected for a trainee position. Additional medical, offshore or worker’s compensation insurance is not provided by UCAR or by NOAA.

How to Apply

There are three steps to the application process.

Step 1:

Submit the online application form.

Step 2:

The following information is required and should be emailed as part of the application process:

1. A current resume or Curriculum Vitae.

2. A letter of interest (limited to one single-spaced page), which specifically addresses these questions:

a.  Why do you think ocean exploration is important?

b.  What are your anticipated educational / academic goals for this Mapping Explorer-in-training program?

c.  How do you anticipate that this EiT program with the Okeanos Explorer will apply to your future academic and/or career pursuits?

Instructions:  Combine items 1-2 above into one document and save as a PDF, rename it starting with your last name and "-okeanos2120.pdf" appended, and then email to eit.application.okeanos@gmail.com.  The subject of the email should be EIT Application followed by your last name. Letters of recommendation (see Step 3 below) can either be included in the PDF or can be emailed directly to eit.application.okeanos@gmail.com, at the discretion of the letter writer.  These instructions are also found on the online application form.

Step 3:

At least one letter of recommendation is required. Additionally, if you are working with an academic or research advisor, please include his/her contact information in your online application.  Letters of recommendation can be sent directly to eit.application.okeanos@gmail.com, or can be included in the PDF you compile in Step 2.


Application Deadline:  Midnight, Mountain Daylight Time, January 31, 2020

Contact Information

For additional information about the Okeanos Explorer and the Explorer-in-Training program please visit:

http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/okeanos/  and 



Ocean floor mapping images