The SSMP is an education and training program conducted by the Department of Naval Science at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and six State Maritime Academies (SMA’s). The SSMP administration, eligibility, and participation requirements are directed by Naval Education and Training Command’s Naval Service Training Command (NSTC). These programs are designed to qualify participants for commissioned service into the Strategic Sealift Officer Program (SSOP). Midshipmen who successfully complete the SSMP will receive a U.S. Navy Reserve Officer commission as a Strategic Sealift Officer (SSO), designator 1665, with the rank of Ensign. Newly commissioned SSO’s are part of the Strategic Sealift Readiness Group (SSRG) which is part of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) component. The SSMP does NOT offer Navy ROTC scholarships, nor are Navy ROTC scholarships available to the SSMP.
To maintain within the Reserve Component of the U.S. Navy a cadre of Strategic Sealift Officers (SSOs). The SSRG is comprised of actively sailing officers in the U.S. Merchant Marine who are qualified to operate merchant ships as naval auxiliaries and provide officer crewing for ships in the Ready Reserve Force (RRF) and Military Sealift Command's (MSC) Surge Sealift Fleet.
The U.S. Merchant Marine is an essential component of national defense. It provides the primary sealift capability necessary to meet defense requirements. Experience gained during previous conflicts has emphasized the importance of Navy coordination with all segments of the maritime industry. In order to facilitate these integrated operations, the Department of the Navy established, the Merchant Marine Reserve (MMR), U.S. Naval Reserve Program. This program is now the SSOP.
The SSOP supports national defense sealift requirement and capabilities, as executed by MSC. SSOP provides naval reserve officers which are licensed merchant marine officers with sealift, maritime operations, and logistics subject matter expertise.
Unlike other commissioning programs, members of the SSMP are not required to complete active duty service. The SSMP offers a limited number of opportunities to pursue an Active Duty commission upon graduation. These limited number billets are based upon the current needs of the Navy and are not guaranteed. Active duty military service obligations are based upon the community entered such as Surface Warfare, Aviation, Submariners, Special Ops (SEALs), Intel, as well as Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force, or Army. The Navy Reserve obligation as an SSO may be waived by serving as a commissioned officer on active duty in the armed forces of the U.S., in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), or Public Health Service (PHS) Corps for at least five (5) years.
The Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) Student Incentive Payment (SIP) Program is available to State Maritime Academy (SMA) students. Students who enroll in the SIP program receive funding to offset the cost of uniforms, books, subsistence, and tuition in return for a service obligation. The SIP Program is offered at all six State Maritime Academies.
The SIP students, called cadets, receive tuition assistance of up to $8,000 per school year, not to exceed 4 years or $32,000. In exchange for the financial assistance graduates of the SIP Program all incur a service obligation.
Feel free to contact the SMA of interest listed above. The SMA’s are unique academic institutions that provide students with an opportunity to receive a high quality education and the necessary training to become U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) credentialed Merchant Marine Officers. The SIP program assists cadets in becoming U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) credentialed mariners who are critical to both the national security and economic needs of the Nation.
Having successfully completed the course of instruction at a State Maritime Academy for a maritime degree and upon receiving a U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) with an officer endorsement, the remaining graduate's service obligation covers the following four (4) elements:
Fulfillment of the SIP Service Obligation requires completion of all elements listed above. The only exception to this is individuals who, serve as a commissioned officer on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States or as a commissioned officer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS). Those SIP graduates following graduation who provide five (5) years of honorable Active Duty service will fulfill their MARAD obligation, with the exception of their annual reporting.
Answer: Licensed ship’s officer aboard any vessel of any size, tonnage/ horsepower. To learn more about a USCG MMC please visit: http://www.uscg.mil/nmc/.
Answer: The United States Merchant Marine is the fleet of U.S. civilian-owned merchant vessels, operated by either the U.S. government or the private sector, that engage in commerce or transportation of goods and services in and out of the navigable waters of the United States.
Answer: The maritime academies meet the need of educating young men and women for service in the American merchant marine, in the U.S. Armed Forces, and in the Nation’s inter-modal transportation system. There are six State Maritime Academies and one federally funded service academy. The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) is one of five federally funded service academies and it is funded by the Maritime Administration. A congressional nomination and appointment are required in order to attend USMMA.
Answer: Merchant Marine Officers have been supporting the U.S. military in one form or another since the birth of our nation. During World War I a program was established to formalize this support. This program has endured. Formerly called the Merchant Marine Naval Reserve from 1925 to 1938, the Merchant Marine Reserve from 1938 to 2010 and since 2010, it is now called the Strategic Sealift Officer Program.