Ship Security Officer to Provide Evidence of Training by January 1, 2008

Effective January 1, 2008, mariners sailing in the capacity of Ship Security Officer (SSO) will have to show evidence of being “qualified” to hold that position. The SSO training requirement only applies to STCW vessels 500GT or greater operating on international voyages. Evidence of qualification will include the following:

  • Course completion certificate (in accordance with the Maritime Transportation Security Act [MTSA] and/or in accordance with the International Maritime Organization [IMO] model course for Ship Security Officer [SSO]).

  • Company letter or certificate attesting to the qualifications (in accordance with the Maritime Transportation Security Act [MTSA] regulations and the International Ship and Port Facility [ISPS] Code).

The U.S. Coast Guard has determined that any training completed in accordance with 33 CFR, Part 104.215, is substantially equivalent to the STCW requirements. Therefore, no additional training should be required. The Coast Guard has informed Port State Control worldwide of this arrangement.

Before July 1, 2009, the Coast Guard intends to amend 33 CFR, Part 104.215, to create a “Ship Security Officer” endorsement that will be included on the mariners license or documents. Additional information should become available sometime next year.

For more information on the qualifications associated with the position of Ship Security Officer, please visit the U.S. Coast Guard Homeport website at http://homeport.uscg.mil or contact Ms. Mayte Medina via e-mail at mayte.medina2@uscg.mil.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. To who does the Ship Security Officer (SSO) STCW requirements apply?

The STCW requirements for SSO are based on the application requirements in the ISPS Code. The requirements will apply to seafarers working on board seagoing vessels of 200 GRT/500 GT and above and all seagoing passenger vessels.

2. Do the requirements apply to the Vessel Security Officers?

Yes. The term SSO is used by the International Maritime Organization in the various maritime Conventions and Codes. As such, the term VSO is interchangeable with the term SSO.

3. How often should VSO training be renewed?

At the present time there are no domestic requirements imposing refresher training for VSO.

4. Are the STCW requirements for VSO applicable to all officers or only to those persons serving as VSO?

The STCW requirements are only applicable to persons serving as VSO.

5. When will the Coast Guard start issuing VSO endorsements?

The Coast Guard will propose amendments to 33 CFR 104.215 in order to include a provision for the issuance of an endorsement to the STCW certificate . The endorsements will be issued following the entry into force of these future regulatory amendments.

6. Where would the VSO endorsement be displayed?

Since the training requirements are part of the STCW Convention, it is envisioned that the endorsement will be displayed on the STCW Certificate.