Strategic Sealift Officer Program

(formerly the Merchant Marine Naval Reserve Program)

The Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Fleet Readiness and Logistics approved transitioning the Merchant Marine Naval Reserve Program into the Strategic Sealift Officer Program (SSOP) on June 10, 2011.

The U.S Navy evolved out of the American Merchant Marine. Practically every Naval Officer and seafarer who served in the American Revolution was an experienced Merchant Mariner. The Navy's first fighting ships were primarily merchant vessels fitted with guns. During the Navy's early years, Naval officers and midshipmen were encouraged to sail on merchant vessels to gain additional seagoing experience and to improve their nautical skills.

Prior to World War II, officers trained in the Merchant Marine formed the most important manpower reserve for the Navy.

The Merchant Marine Act of 1936 was enacted so that the country would have a strong Merchant Marine, capable of service as a Naval and Military auxiliary in time of war or national emergency. Prior to the outbreak of war, qualified Merchant Marine officers joined the Naval Reserve and served our country valiantly.

Today the U.S. Navy has substantially fewer ships than it did at the end of World War II. However, one of its primary missions - protecting the sea lanes vital to the nation in time of war - has not changed. Since 1984, the Navy has been assigned the additional mission of Strategic Sealift. To accomplish this mission with fewer ships, the Navy is working more closely with the Merchant Marine than ever. In recent years MARAD and Military Sealift Command have established a program of government owned, civilian crewed vessels to carry out this strategic Sealift Mission.

The Strategic Sealift Officer Program builds and strengthens the bond between our companion sea services. Officers in the program serve as an essential link whenever merchant and naval vessels interact in combined operations.

The Calhoon MEBA Engineering School is proud to be a part of this effort. All of our courses have been approved by the SSOP as professional education courses. Officers attending them may be credited with up to five retirement points per anniversary year when taking non-STCW required courses. Up to thirty retirement points per year will be awarded for taking STCW required courses.

Officers attending the school may also drill with the local Merchant Marine Reserve Operational Command Headquarters Unit in either Washington, DC or Baltimore.

To learn more about this program and obtain Retirement Point Credit for Professional Training, go to the Strategic Sealift Officer Force website - Click on the SSO Program Office under Contacts - You may either contact the main number of the SSO Program Office or the Training Officer.