Strategic Sealift Officer Program

Strategic Sealift Officer Program

This is a program unique to the maritime schools that allows students earning unlimited licenses as Merchant Marine Deck or Engine Officers to be commissioned as an officer in the Navy Reserve upon graduation. Strategic Sealift Officers normally serve on inactive duty in the Individual Ready Reserve allowing them to work as civilians in the maritime industry. They serve on active duty when required to support military sealift operations that call for the training and experience of licensed Merchant Marine Officers. 


The program is open to students who are participating in Coast Guard unlimited License program. Students will apply to this program during the summer prior to the fall semester of their freshman or sophomore year. If admitted, students will start naval science training concurrently with the fall semester.

Qualified students may apply for the Student Incentive Payments (SIP) funded by the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) during their freshman year. SIP benefits amount to a maximum of $32,000 ($4,000 per semester).

SSO students must be physically qualified, complete three Naval Science courses and participate in all NROTC Battalion drills and activities to qualify for SIP and/or commissioning. Students may participate in the SSO program without receiving SIP. Simultaneous enrollment in the NROTC College Program, basic standing, to compete for NROTC scholarships is allowed and encouraged.

Following graduation and commissioning, Strategic Sealift Officers must maintain an active Coast Guard merchant officer license for at least 6 years, serve in the Navy Reserve for at least 8 years, and work in the maritime industry for 5 years. The program also offers SSO MIDN limited opportunities to pursue an active duty commission upon graduation as a line or staff corps officer in the Navy, but availability of active duty commissions to SSO MIDN is extremely limited and not guaranteed and is dependent on qualifications, class ranking and Navy needs.


SSOP Brochure

SSOP Flyer

SSOP Information

SSOP Overview Powerpoint

Reserve Personnel Manual

Student Incentive Payment (SIP) Booklet


OPNAV Instruction 1534 - SSOP


NROTCU SUNY Maritime • S & E Building • 6 Pennyfield Ave, NY 10465 • Phone: 718-409-7495 • Fax: 718-409-7402