Mike Ripper – Purser


Mike Ripper (age 55) Purser/Catering Officer

A purser coordinates the food, accommodation and paperwork for the crew and the scientists.

Darren the chef orders food through Mike, they have to work out the balance of what will keep, what is needed and what is within budget. A stocktake occurs towards the end of the voyage and food is ordered a month in advance for the next expedition.

Mike is in charge of the bond (like a tuck shop), the bar and duty free items such as cigarettes and alcohol. The accommodation side of Mike’s job involves ordering cleaning goods, ensuring the laundry is done, that there is enough bedding, cleaning fluids, mattresses – the list is endless. In addition Mike is also responsible for the port papers for EVERYONE on board and visas / crew travel issues. Into Europe, Mike says,is not too bad but Port au Spain where we are docking operates a rather more complex American system.

Once a week Mike and the Captain have a walk through the ship. They check for health and safety issues: lino stuck firmly to the floor, handrails screwed on properly, items secured and sowed away safely and so forth.

Much of the work at sea is for fixed term contracts but usually you get one day shore leave for everyday you work at sea. Mike enjoys working for NERC and enjoys working on the RRS James Cook.


Mike has spent over 20 years at sea. He was very good at computing when he first started out as an accounts assistant and  found himself in the office doing paper work from there the natural progression was Purser.


Have a speciality, generic workers at sea have great competition for employment with a world-wide market driving wages down. A cadetship or engineering apprenticeship can open doors to a good career.

Store : Some packages fell over in rather bouncy seas.



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