What is the SSMP?

The Strategic Sealift Midshipman Program (SSMP) is a unique aspect of the NROTC Unit at MMA.

If you earn your Coast Guard License at Maine Maritime Academy, and participate in the SSMP, you will be commissioned as an officer into the Strategic Sealift Officer Program (SSOP).

Formerly known as the Merchant Marine Naval Reserve, the SSOP is a cadre of naval officers who are licensed merchant mariners with sealift, maritime operations, and logistics subject matter expertise. The SSOP is a specialized component of the Navy Reserve and it is only offered at the seven maritime schools. The SSOP is called upon to provide integrated sealift operations in support of National Defense.

SSMP Midshipmen have an eight-year military service obligation and will be eligible for opportunities to pursue an Active-Duty commission. However, it is important to note that these billets are not guaranteed; they are limited opportunities that are based upon the current needs of the Navy.  If you are selected for Active Duty, the military service obligation is dependent upon the community.

Once commissioned into the Navy Reserve, Strategic Sealift Officer Program (SSOP) Officers serve in an Active Reserve status as either Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) or Selected Reserve (SELRES); most members fall under the Individual Ready Reserve.

Strategic Sealift Officers are reservists who serve on periods of active duty to military and reserve fleet operations that require Merchant Marine Officers.  Most SSOP members work in the maritime industry in their civilian career, but it is not a requirement of the program.

SSMP Eligibility

To be eligible for this program you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, be at least 17 but less than 25 years of age (upon enrollment at MMA).  There are waivers available for those over 25, especially with prior service.
  • Be enrolled in a Bachelor of Science Degree Program leading to a U.S. Coast Guard Unlimited License.
  • Complete a Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board (DODMERB) exam and be deemed medically qualified.
  • Complete a Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) with active-duty staff at MMA (to include body fat assessment, push-ups, sit-ups, and 1.5 mile run).
  • Possess satisfactory records of academic ability and moral integrity, and demonstrate those characteristics desired of a Naval Officer.
  • Have no moral reservation or personal conviction that prevents you from bearing arms.

If you are a current MMA student enrolled in our Marine Engineering or Marine Transportation program, you may join the SSMP program until the fall semester Junior Year.

For more information regarding SSMP, please contact LT Ryan Armstrong at ryan.armstrong@mma.edu.

Maine Maritime Academy SSMP Application

The Student Incentive Payment (SIP) Program

The Student Incentive Payments Program (SIP) is a federally funded initiative through the Maritime Administration (MARAD). The program provides financial support to Midshipmen enrolled in the Strategic Sealift Midshipmen Program (SSMP) at Maine Maritime Academy who will graduate as a licensed officer in the U.S Merchant Marine.

The U.S. Merchant Marine provides the primary sealift capability necessary to meet national defense requirements. To support these requirements, the Department of the Navy established the SSMP. The SSMP produces Navy officers who hold a U.S. merchant mariner’s license and are subject matter experts in sealift, maritime operations, and logistics. This unique skillset allows our graduates to fulfill many of the Navy’s combat support missions.

To further support defense requirements, incentives are available to SSMP Midshipmen through SIP. Enrolled Midshipmen can receive up to $32,000; these funds must be used to offset the cost of tuition, room and board, uniforms, books.

SIP requires a separate application; to learn more, please contact LT Ryan Armstrong at ryan.armstrong@mma.edu.

After Commissioning

SSMP Midshipmen who commission into the Navy Reserve have an eight-year military service obligation.  As a commissioned Strategic Sealift Officer, the following is a list of the obligations and responsibilities during your service:

Active Duty for Training (ADT)

All Strategic Sealift Readiness Group (SSRG) members are required to complete 12 days of ADT each fiscal year (FY).

  • ADT will be scheduled for all SSRG officers each Fiscal Year – between October 1 and March 31.
  • You will also be required to complete DTS travel voucher within 5 days after departing from ADT.

Annual Reporting

  • Report current contact and civilian employment information.


  • Answer official correspondence, maintain NSIPS, and inform SSO Program Office of all address, phone number, employment, and email changes.

Physical Health Assessment (PHA)

  • Obtain a PHA every 365 days, including height, weight, BMI, blood pressure, visual acuity, immunization status, labs, lipid screening, annual dental examination, and dental readiness.
  • Maintain and ensure Individual Medical Readiness (IMR) is accurate and current, including immunizations/boosters/etc.

Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA)

  • Complete one PFA per calendar year (1 January through 31 December), including medical screening, current PHA, Physical Activity Risk Factor Assessment (PARFQ), pre-physical activity questionnaire, Body Composition Assessment (BCA) – within height and weight standards, Physical Readiness Test (PRT), two minutes timed: plank hold and pushups, 1.5 mile run (or pre-approved alternative cardio such as elliptical, bike, or swim) within the prescribed time.

You must also maintain an Active USCG Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC), Unlimited Tonnage/HP on Oceans. Your STCW endorsement must be valid (OICNW or OICEW).

Frequently Asked Questions