SSOP or MMR/SIP Questions

I posted this in the Maritime Academy section as well, however I feel I will get more input from this section of the forum.

I am applying to a few state Maritime academies for the fall of 2013. I’ve done a fair amount of research on the Strategic Sealift Officer Program (SSOP), formerly the Merchant Marine Reserve. I have read enough to get a basic understanding of the program, however there are a few questions that I have not been able to find answers to.

1.) How competitive is the SSOP and SIP to get into? I understand the program ranks candidates based on their interview, test scores, and fitness tests and then makes acceptance decisions based on number of billets. I have not been able to find how many billet availabilities there are per school, or for the program in general.

Furthermore, If a candidate satisfactorily completes all SSOP requirements do they make it into the program, or is more like NROTC where only the competitively ranked candidates have a shot?

2.) Once you accept your commission as an Ensign in the USNR IRR, can you fulfill your IRR obligation by requesting a conditional release (DD368) from the USNR to accept an active duty commission in a different service such as the USCG?

Any further information from those currently in the SSO program would be greatly appreciated.

I’m currently in the SSO program, so I can answer a few of these questions. 1) Yes you are correct, and I do not know how many slots they have, but it seems like getting into SSO is easy, staying in it, keeping the grades, the physical fitness, putting up with all the NROTC rules, passing the evaluations, and not getting kicked out by a Lt. is the hard part. I’ve seen it happen to many. They fail an evaluation, grades drop, PT scores gets to low, you show up late to many times, and bam, your dropped, and owe several grand back if you have the SIP. Getting the SIP is harder however, and based on how many billets they have and the Lt evaluation. It seems though that about 75% get the SIP in my case. So all in all, if you get your crap together, it shouldn’t be to hard getting into the SSO program, and more then likely getting a SIP. Holding on to it though, and making in through all the way is the harder part.

  1. Yes.

Its a good program, and the SIP payment is big plus. On the downside, you have to like the NROTC program as well, because your fully involved with them.


I did some research with my son on this program. My take:

Getting in, getting SIP, staying in…not all that difficult. This difficulty is likely somewhat school dependent.

One thing that was made clear…if you desire an active duty Naval commission, this is not the program.
Recently many kids were denied this path. Yes, if you can get an active commission from another
service, you are good to go.

Make sure you understand the long term commitment required if you accept the SIP, and can not/do not
get an active duty commission. I forget the exact numbers, but you stay Navy Reserve for 6 years, you
must maintain your USCG license for 5, and you must work on a US flagged ship for like 3 years. Something along
those lines.

Overall I like the concept of the program and the money would be helpful.