Russell served at sea for 17 years as a deck officer on board a variety of vessel types, including tankers, coastal tankers, survey vessels and sub-sea installation and repair ships. He studied at Plymouth and Southampton for an HND in Nautical Science and gained his Master (Foreign Going) Certificate in 1990 whilst working for BT (Marine) Ltd.
He joined the staff of the Warsash Maritime Academy in 1995 as a senior lecturer working for the maritime and offshore safety section, primarily teaching at the fire school. In addition he became an MCA approved examiner for EDH and PSCRB courses and following a period of study, was awarded a certificate in education and assessor/verifier qualifications.
As an ISM auditor with NEBOSH qualifications, Russell has undertaken a number of consultancy roles for Warsash by providing advice and reports to third parties about individual vessel safety and the necessary training facility improvements required for MCA accreditation.
In 2003 he completed an MSc in Project Management, awarded by Portsmouth University, and during the same year was appointed as principal lecturer maritime training, with responsibility for managing maritime and offshore safety resources. In 2009 following an internal restructure, his responsibilities changed to manage resources in the following work areas: fire school, ship handling centre and commercial yacht courses (deck).
Russell has participated in several national working groups dealing with maritime safety issues. He is a Member of the Nautical Institute (MNI) and is the Treasurer of the International Association for Safety and Survival Training (IASST).