Strategic Sealift Officer

Has anyone here joined the Strategic Sealift Program *without doing it through a maritime academy?. I have been sailing on my deck license the last few years and am interested in joining but have a had time finding a path, or even knowing if it is possible. I want to serve but I want to keep sailing as well. I know this may be a “cant have your cake and eat it too” type situation but any insight/guidance would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

I am former enlisted active duty and when I got out went to the academy. Asked an officer recruiter your same question. I was told to get back in (reserves). So I did. Then they said I should make second class. So I did. Then I finally got my package in for SSO. Two years in a row there were no billets. Leadership was unforgiving of my merchant mariner schedule because I was not SSO. Got out and never looked back.
I would speak to an officer recruiter. They probably have never heard of SSO, but they’ll find out and get you the information you need. You might be luckier than me and find that there are billets available.
Edit: if I remember you needed 2/M unlimited at the very least to qualify via this unconventional route.

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Certain civilians with Merchant Mariner credentials can direct commission (DCO) as SSOs. To check on available DCO quotas please contact your nearest Navy Reserve recruiter.

Find your local Navy Reserve Recruiter (Direct Commissions): United States Navy Recruiting | and click on CONTACT US, to find a Recruiter.

US Army Reserve used to take in licensed mariners, even limited licenses, and bring you in as a Warrant Officer. It looks like the Army could used some skilled tugboat guys right about now.


Last time I looked into the US Army, the recruiter checked for me and then got back saying you had to be enlisted first, even with the license. Maybe that changed, but at the time they said they’d bring me in as a Specialist and that I needed to make Sergeant and put some time in as an NCO before moving into WO territory.

Also, some of these guys probably get so few prospective recruits interested in these MOS’ that they have no idea what they’re talking about… :man_shrugging:t2: