Question About SSOP

I have a question about the Strategic Sealift Officer Program.

What does the commitment entail?

Does it have to be in the U.S. Merchant Marine, or can it be with a U.S. based company with Panamanian-Flagged Ships? What about being a Civilian Mariner in the Military Sealift Command or NOAA? I assume you cannot commission into the NOAA Corps while part of this program.

P.S. This is a topic from a student about to start pursuing his Unlimited 3rd Assistant Engineer’s License from SUNY Maritime.

Edit: I also meant to ask about Ashore jobs in the Industry. Is being a mechanical engineer wit MSC an option?