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Strategic Sealift Officer Program


Question: You said that there was a medical physical examination, a fitness test, and an oral interview. Who administers these tests and where would I have to go to take them?
Answer:  The Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board (DODMERB) Physical examination can be done with a doctor in your area that is approved to perform them. We would start you an account on the DODMETS website so you could find a qualified doctor and schedule the appointment. This should be done during your senior year of high school, as soon as you have decided to apply to SSOP. The fitness test and interview are administered by the SSOP active duty staff on the Cal Maritime campus in Vallejo, CA and can be scheduled anytime after you have been accepted and paid a tuition deposit at CSUM.

Question:  Is there a GPA requirement to enter or stay in the program?
 Answer: There is no official minimum GPA to be selected into the SSO Program, however, it is a heavily weighted factor. Final high school academic transcripts should be mailed or faxed to us as soon as they are available (we cannot obtain this info from Admissions because of privacy act regulations). You would be in competition with other applicants who may have strong high school or transfer GPAs and SAT/ACT scores. You would have to have impressive leadership experience/potential, physical fitness, oral interview and communication skills, and extra-curricular activity to compensate for academic shortfalls. The minimum GPA to maintain good standing in the SSO Program at Cal Maritime is 2.50. Anything less than a 2.00 and you would be placed on a Leave of Absence or potentially disenrolled from the SSOP. Disenrollment would result in payback of received SIP payments to the Maritime Administration.

Question: This program is only offered to Marine Transportation and Marine Engineering majors. What happens if I enter the program, and later decide to switch majors?
Answer: If you decide to change your major later on, you would no longer be eligible for the program and would have to pay back any SIP payments that you received.

Question: After graduation from Cal Maritime, it would be my preference to serve as an active duty commissioned officer, as opposed to becoming a Reserve Naval Officer. Can I enter this program with the intention of becoming active duty?
Answer: While it is not a guarantee, committing to the SSO Program would give you an effective avenue to receive an active duty Naval Officer commission when you graduate. Once fully participating in SSOP, you have until the end of your junior year to decide if you want to apply for an active duty commission. If your grades, interview, physical fitness, leadership potential, verbal and written communication skills, and recommendations are strong, then the chances are very high that you get picked up. If you are then selected for active duty, you would not have to reimburse MARAD for any of your SIP scholarship. Cal Maritime SSOP graduates obtain the skills to be successful active Surface Warfare Officers, however, some midshipmen went straight into Naval flight school.

Question: What is the difference between SSOP and NROTC?
NROTC gives you a full scholarship to a university with an NROTC Unit and an active duty Naval Officer commission. SSOP is a program to earn a commission as a Naval Reserve Officer and gives you a scholarship of $4000 per semester called SIP which is deposited directly into your bank account.

Question: What are the duties and responsibilities after I graduate and I am commissioned as a Strategic Sealift Officer?

  • Maintain a license as a deck or engineering officer with the U.S. Coast Guard for at least six (6) years following the date of graduation from the Academy
  • Serve the foreign and domestic commerce  and the national defense of the United States for at least five (5) years following the date of graduation from the California Maritime Academy as:
    1. As a Strategic Sealift Officer serving on vessels documented under the laws of the U.S. or on vessels owned and operated by the U.S. or by a state or territory of the U.S. or
    2. As an employee in the U.S. maritime industry, profession, or marine science (as determined by the Secretary of Transportation), if the Secretary of Transportation determines that service under item (1) is not available to me, or
    3. As a commissioned officer on active duty in an armed force of the U.S. or in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), or
    4. By combining the service specified in sections (1), (2), or (3) above

Question: What are some of the activities that SSOP midshipmen of Detachment 71 do?
Answer: SSOP activities are VERY similar to NROTC. Naval Science Labs (MIL-LAB) are conducted once a week, for two hours, early Wednesday mornings.  For each lab, the unit may be inspected and drilled. Physical training is conducted once or twice each week. The unit conducts community service events each semester. Midshipmen now have the opportunity to take part in the Ready Reserve Fleet, based off in the SF Bay Area.  Midshipmen can receive more sea time, a small pay, make new contacts, and learn more about Ready Reserve Fleet industry.

Question: What are the extra courses I would need to complete to be eligible to receive a reserve commission in the SSOP?
Answer: You would have to complete 4 courses prior to graduation; Naval Science for the Merchant Mariner I, Strategic Sealift Officer (SSO) I, SSO II (Leadership and Management), and Commission Seminar.

Question: You said I had to meet all the physical qualifications before I am offered an official acceptance to the program. What all does that include?
Answer: The physical requirements are 3 fold. First, there is a Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board (DODMERB) medical physical that needs to be completed with an approved doctor. This should be completed prior to high school graduation. (you do not have to commit to SSOP to complete this requirement). Next, there are height and weight standards that need to be continuously met. The chart can be found at http://www.navycs.com/navyheightweightchart.html Body fat must not exceed 22% for males, 33% for females. Finally, there is a physical fitness assessment that needs to be completed on campus under supervision of the active duty staff, after you have been accepted to Cal Maritime. The test consists of sit-ups (2 min for as many as you can do), push-ups (2 minutes), and then a 1.5 mile run. You must achieve a "good" or better in each area to qualify. The standards can be found here http://www.navy-prt.com/malestandard/malestandard.html for males, and on that page, in the left hand side column is a link for female standards. You do not have to be committed to the program to complete these requirements.

Question: What is the very first thing I can do to get the ball rolling?
Answer: Do your research, email or call us with any specific questions not found on our website, send a copy of your resume/high school academic transcript/SAT or ACT Scores to the active duty staff here. Contact Ms. Antonia Vasquez for questions, fax to 707-654-1268, email to avasquez@csum.edu