Strategic Sealift Officer Program

The Strategic Sealift Officer Program (SSOP), formerly the Merchant Marine Reserve (MMR), is an excellent way to assist you in meeting the financial obligations of your college education. The SSOP is designed to train and educate highly qualified students for commissioning and reserve duty service as officers in the Strategic Sealift Readiness Group (SSRG) component of the U.S. Navy Reserve (USNR).

To be eligible for this program, a student must:

  1. Be a U.S. citizen
  2. Be at least 17 but less than 25 years of age (upon enrollment at MMA)
  3. Be physically qualified
  4. Have a satisfactory record of academic ability and moral integrity
  5. Demonstrate those characteristics desired of a Naval Officer
  6. Have no moral reservation or personal conviction that prevents the bearing of arms
  7. Be enrolled in a Bachelor of Science Degree Program leading to a U.S. Coast Guard Unlimited License:

Marine Engineering Operations
Marine Engineering Technology
Marine Systems Engineering – License Track
Marine Transportation Operations

Students who meet the qualifications above may apply for Midshipman status in the SSOP and apply to participate in the U.S. Maritime Administration’s Student Incentive Payment (SIP) Program. If selected, an incentive payment of $8000 per academic year is provided for up to a maximum of four years. Student Incentive Payments of $4000 are made each semester. The SIP Program requires students to obtain a Coast Guard Unlimited License and to apply for, and accept if offered, a Reserve officer commission in the U.S. Navy. A student who receives SIP incurs an obligation 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.

The program requirements are as follows:

  1. Prior to arriving at MMA, apply for the SIP Program and Midshipman status in the U.S. Navy Reserve
  2. Complete a physical examination to verify eligibility (at Department of Defense expense)
  3. Students must agree in writing to apply for, and accept if offered, a United States Navy Reserve commission
  4. The application process takes up to two months and must be complete prior to the beginning of the academic year in order to be eligible for SIP during the Freshman year
  5. Continuation in the program is based on continued eligibility (i.e. Minimum GPA 2.0 with satisfactory participation in SSOP program)

First year
1. Participate and successfully complete NROTC new midshipman orientation
2. Participate in weekly Naval Science lab
3. Pass Navy physical fitness assessment and swim qualification

Sophomore year
1. Participate in weekly Naval Science lab
2. Complete NV101 Naval Orientation
3. Pass Navy physical fitness assessment and swim qualification

Junior year
1. Complete NV222 Naval Science for the Strategic Sealift Officer (SSO) I
2. Participate in weekly Naval Science lab
3. Pass Navy physical fitness assessment and swim qualification

Senior year
1. Complete all processing and apply for a commission
2. Pass the U.S. Coast Guard Unlimited License examination
3. Complete NV402 Leadership and Ethics and NV442 Naval Science for the SSO II
4. Participate in weekly Naval Science lab
5. Pass Navy physical fitness assessment and swim qualification
6. Be commissioned as an Ensign, SSRG (Stategic Sealift Reserve Group), USNR, at graduation

Minimum Obligation After Graduation
1. Complete a minimum of two weeks of active duty each year for a total of six years, in a merchant marine related billet, with pay and travel/food reimbursement
2. At least 150 days of sailing employment using one’s U.S. Coast Guard License every calendar year for three years and maintain Coast Guard license for three additional years (First 6 of 8 year obligation)
3. Remain in the Inactive Reserve (with no other obligations) for an additional two years (Last 2 of 8 year obligation)

For information about the SSOP, USNR, and SIP Programs at Maine Maritime Academy, contact Commanding Officer, NROTC Unit, Maine Maritime Academy, (207) 326-2352, email