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Strategic Sealift Officer

What is a Strategic Sealift Officer?

Strategic Sealift Officers (SSO) are commissioned officers in the U.S. Navy Reserve assigned to reserve U.S. Naval activities that support strategic sealift in times of national defense or emergency. The Strategic Sealift Officer Program provides the capability for emergency crewing and shore-side support of Military Sealift Command’s Surge Sealift Fleet and the Ready Reserve Force in times of national defense or emergency.

“It is the policy of the United States that merchant marine vessels of the United States should be operated by highly trained and efficient citizens of the United States and that the United States Navy and the merchant marine of the United States should work closely together to promote the maximum integration of the total seapower forces of the United States.” (46 USC 511)

How do you serve in the Navy as a Strategic Sealift Officer?

Strategic Sealift Officers serve in the Navy either through the Selected Reserves (SELRES) or through the Strategic Sealift Readiness Group (SSRG). While on orders, the SSO will provide subject matter expertise in marine engineering, operations and logistics. The majority of SSOs are in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) where they maintain a civilian career in the maritime industry and complete a minimum 2 week Active Duty Training (ADT) period annually. Opportunities for long term support are available.

The Strategic Sealift Officer Program’s primary supported command is Military Sealift Command (MSC). As the primary supported command of SSOP Officers, MSC has been designated as the flag sponsor of the Strategic Sealift Officer Program. As such, MSC supervises the care, development and employment of the SSOP community in an effort to optimize the benefits provided by your education and civilian career. Typical ADTs will utilize the SSO’s skill set afloat, in shipyards and in ports.

"The Strategic Sealift Officer Program (SSOP) supports the national defense sealift requirement and capabilities, as executed by Military Sealift Command. The SSOP provides naval reserve officers who are licensed merchant marine officers with sealift, maritime operations, and logistics subject matter expertise." (OPNAVINST 1534.1D)

What are the obligations upon graduation and commissioning?

Membership in the Strategic Sealift Midshipmen Program obligates you after graduation to the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration to serve for a minimum of 8 years as a Naval Reserve Officer in the Strategic Sealift Officer Program. During this time you must:

  • Sail for 5 years on your U.S. Coast Guard unlimited deck or engine license on a U.S. Flag vessel in the U.S. Merchant Marine.
  • Maintain your U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Credentials.
  • Maintain a civilian career in the Maritime Industry
Updated: Thursday, July 24, 2014
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