About the Strategic Sealift Officer Program

The following blog was written by Rear Adm. T.K. Shannon, Commander, Military Sealift Command. The Strategic Sealift Officer Program (SSOP) is an excellent choice for cadets at our U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and our state maritime academies.  Shannon, who champions the program for our Navy, talks about the program requirements and rewards.

DSC_0029If you’re under 25, looking for an exciting career and are attracted to the sea, read on, and please share this with your like-minded friends.

Three years ago, Vice Adm. Phil Cullom, deputy chief of naval operations for Fleet Readiness and Logistics, approved revisions to our Merchant Marine Reserve Program, morphing it into our Strategic Sealift Officer Program. Here’s what that could mean for you if you’re headed for college and focused on your future.

Our SSOP supports national defense sealift requirements and capabilities, which MSC executes. Our program provides our Navy with officers who have expertise in sealift, maritime operations and logistics, and who hold U.S. Coast Guard credentials as Merchant Marine officers.

Our program provides the capability for emergency crewing of sealift ships and emergency shoreside support to Navy commands that require unique maritime expertise. It also gives young adults like you an opportunity to support and serve our Navy and our nation.

Strategic sealift officers are aligned under MSC so they can provide the best use for their training as both Navy officers and licensed Merchant Marine officers. I am proud to be their flag sponsor for our Navy because the program helps ensure that our SSOs are ready for mobilization.

Back in the day, when I was a cadet at Maine Maritime Academy, I knew I wanted a maritime career. Today, Maine Maritime has embraced our new SSOP, as have our other state maritime academies and our national academy at Kings Point. It’s an excellent way to assist yourself in meeting the financial obligations of your college education, too!

To be part of this, you must be a U.S. citizen who is at least 17 but less than 25 years of age when you enroll. You must be physically qualified and have satisfactory records of academic ability and moral integrity – exhibiting the characteristics desired of a Naval Officer. You must have no moral reservation or personal conviction that prevents the bearing of arms, and you must be enrolled in a Bachelor of Science degree program leading to a U.S. Coast Guard Unlimited License at the maritime academy of your choice.

Degree programs include marine engineering operations, marine engineering technology, marine systems engineering and marine transportation operations, among others offered at Maine Maritime, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, SUNY Maritime College, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Texas Maritime Academy, Great Lakes Maritime Academy and California Maritime Academy.

Students who meet the qualifications at the above schools may apply for Midshipman status in our SSOP and apply to participate in our U.S. Maritime Administration’s Student Incentive Payment Program. If selected, an incentive payment of $8,000 per academic year is provided for up to a maximum of four years.

You will have to obtain a Coast Guard Unlimited License and apply for, and accept if offered, a Reserve officer commission in our Navy. You will also be obligated to serve as an employee in the maritime or maritime-related industry, and in times of national emergency, to serve as a Naval Officer aboard a U.S.-flagged merchant vessel.

If you are one of those special young people who find the allure of a life at sea to be attractive, please check out our maritime academies and our Strategic Sealift Officer Program. It could change your life!

Thanks for considering service to our nation,

T.K. Shannon
Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy
Commander, Military Sealift Command

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