The Nautilus secretariat is the collective name for the Union's paid employees, who are led by an elected general secretary. The secretariat implements Union policy and carries out administration. It is divided into several departments, each focused on a particular area of the Union's work.

Nautilus has full-time personnel in London, Wallasey, Rotterdam and Basel, and a presence in Singapore.

For the benefit of members in the yacht sector, Nautilus has partnerships with D&B Services in Antibes, France, along with other strategic yacht partners in Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Monaco and the UK.

General secretary and senior management team

The general secretary is the head of the secretariat, and is the chief executive of the Union and responsible for the Union's finances. He or she is a member of the Council and responsible to the Council for the general administration of the Union, the conduct of negotiations and supervision of the affairs of the Union.

Under the Union's Rules, the general secretary determines the duties of all officials.

There is a deputy general secretary, based in the Netherlands, and two assistant general secretaries, one based in the UK northern office and one based in the London head office.


The Organising department is one international department that represents members' collective interests in negotiations with their employers. It also provides services and support to individual members, and has responsibility for recruiting new members.

In the UK, Organising is formed of four 'centres of excellence' which are focused on collective bargaining, recruitment and membership.

In the Netherlands, there are 'clusters' of staff for: board and policy; industrial officials; membership and IT administrative support; and legal services. These clusters support the overall strategy of the Union and the day-to-day interests of individual members.

In Switzerland, the relevant national secretary regularly visits vessels in the three ports of Basel. On the whole, Swiss-flagged vessels tend to travel between European ports outside Switzerland, so the Union works with affiliated unions in other European countries to organise crew on those vessels.

The Organising department also oversees the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) inspectors employed by Nautilus and seconded to the ITF. ITF inspectors visit ships to ensure that their crews' contracts and conditions of employment are in line with international legislation and union agreements.

On the recruitment and membership side, Organising is tasked with encouraging all eligible maritime and inland waterways professionals to become members of the Union. This is done via recruitment campaigns and college induction sessions. Recruitment work is also carried out when Nautilus personnel visit ships and company offices for 'industrial' purposes.

Specialised organising staff handle members' enquiries, process membership applications and maintain the database so that members' monthly payments are debited from their accounts. Training courses for members – such as the regular courses for lay representatives – fall under the remit of the Organising department, as does membership retention.


Staffed by qualified lawyers, the Legal department in the UK and Netherlands works closely with colleagues in the Organising department and concentrates on employment law cases – providing advice and supporting members if their dispute or grievance has been escalated to an employment tribunal in the UK, and supporting members in employment cases and representing them in court in the Netherlands.

The Legal department also supports members in obtaining compensation for work-related injury or illness. In the Netherlands, this also includes social security law cases in the Dutch social security office – Uitvoeringsinstituut werknemersverzekeringen (UWV) – appeal cases, and court cases.

Another important role for the department is providing members with advice following a maritime incident – offering ongoing support with representation, certificate protection and formal investigations. Wherever they are in the world, members can use the Nautilus legal directory after an incident to contact their nearest affiliated lawyer, whose services will be offered as part of the Union's membership package.

Personnel from the Legal department also attend meetings at a global, European and domestic level, providing input into proposals for new conventions and legislation.

Some of the services offered or coordinated by the Legal department are available to members' close family as well as to the members themselves. Nautilus members can find out more about these services by logging into My Nautilus.

Professional and Technical

The Professional and Technical department works on behalf of members to ensure that high standards of safety, training and certification are maintained in the industry.

The department participates in the drafting of regulations at the highest level – representing maritime professionals at the International Labour Organisation and International Maritime Organisation. Professional & Technical personnel also sit on a range of national and European standard-setting bodies.

The department acts as a repository of maritime expertise for the rest of the Union, and draws on regular input from the Professional & Technical Forum, in which Nautilus members contribute their own knowledge and engage in debate.

Campaigns and Communications

The Campaigns and Communications department is responsible for all aspects of the Union's external relations, producing specialist material to highlight issues of critical importance to members. Staffed by experienced journalists and PR professionals, the department's tasks include:

  • production of the Union's award-winning monthly journal, the Telegraph – which reports on the Union's activities and offers a wide range of shipping news, comment, features and reviews
  • maintaining the Union's multi-language website
  • dealing with external media enquiries
  • political lobbying, producing publicity materials
  • producing membership surveys and specialist reports
  • involvement in wider maritime events, campaigns and activities

The Campaigns and Communications team includes a dedicated communications and marketing advisor in the Netherlands branch, who, in addition to carrying out the above work, provides marketing and recruitment advice to the Union's Policy and Coordination Committee. The advisor is also responsible for the coordination and organisation of the Dutch maritime college visits.

Strategic Campaigns

In 2016, Nautilus set up a dedicated department for strategic campaigns, to focus on three targeted issues: Jobs, Skills and the Future; Crew Communications; and Fair Transport. Strategic campaigns are designed to improve the day-to-day lives of members and supplement a range of other campaigns carried out by the Communications department on behalf of the Union. It also manages the Union's social media forums.


The Operations department is the backbone of Nautilus, providing essential support services throughout the organisation. This department is responsible for planning and organising the Union's General Meeting and the Branch Conferences in each country.

Operations includes the Central Services team, who deal with the Union's mail, manage the telephone switchboard and distribute Nautilus publications to members who request them. There is also an IT support team who manage the secretariat's computers, networks and phone systems across all the Union's sites.


All activities related to finance, accounts and budgets are handled by the Finance department. The department is responsible for every account held by Nautilus International, including the finances of the Nautilus Welfare Fund.

The primary functions of the Finance department are to manage annual statutory accounts and returns, and take the organisation through all statutory audits. The department also prepares, monitors and evaluates the annual budget, collects Nautilus members' subscriptions, manages the payroll for the Secretariat, processes and pays all invoices, and deals with the Union's tax obligations.


In the UK arm of the Nautilus Secretariat, the Union has a Welfare department providing accommodation and support services to retired seafarers via the Nautilus Welfare Fund, a registered charity.

In the Netherlands, the Union's welfare work has a different focus, and a member of staff is dedicated to visiting ships to ensure the welfare of members and other serving seafarers.

Welfare-related work is also carried out by other personnel throughout the secretariat – for example by conducting surveys and producing reports on the standards of living at sea, or by acting to ensure that ships meet the requirements of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006.

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