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FAQ’s: MCA Ship Security Officer Course (SSO)

What will you get out of the MCA SSO course?

With commercial vessels being increasingly seen as cash cows for terrorists and pirates, the Ship Security Officer qualification will enable you to take on an important role aboard a large yacht sailing through some of the least safe parts of the world such as past the Horn of Africa, though there are other hotspots such as north west Africa and the South China Sea where pirates are increasingly operating in the face of the flotillas of anti piracy warships off Somalia.

How much will the course cost?

Expect to pay up to £700 including VAT to do this course. This is approximately $1,080 or 960 EUROS.

What are your limits on passing this course?

You will have an internationally recognised qualification in maintaining ship security at sea and in port. This is a useful adjunct to improve your CV and get sailing professionally. 

Is the Ship Security Course theory, practical or both?

It is part theory and part practical. Where the protocols and law around the course are classroom based, you will get to grip with security equipment and even bombs that have been used to attack vessels.

Where can you take it?

With this course being accredited by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) it can only be done in UK territories.

Although you cannot take the MCA approved course in another country there are equivalent courses available through the STCW convention. The MCA course just comes under a different International Maritime Organization (IMO) agreement to the STCW one.

What level of experience is required before taking the course?

You should have a minimum of 12 months’ experience as a commercial seafarer or have been a member of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, or other UK military before you begin.

How long does it take?

This is typically a two day course.

What does the MCA Ship Security Officer course involve?

This course will guide you as to what is necessary to keep your ship and shipmates safe in a range of threat situations. At its most basic you will learn how to identify holes in your ship’s security in port, and be able to run a security survey.

From there you will progress to learning the international law around ship security, and what you can and cannot do to prevent attack.

You will learn how to protect the ship, the roles of those involved in that job, and how to look after stowaways and refugees who have come aboard.

You will also cover anti piracy techniques and countermeasures, what weapons are used by those attacking as well as how to deal with a threat or attack.

Does it give you international accreditation?

The course is recognised under the International Ship and Port Security code set out by the International Maritime Organisation. Different flags have different interpretations of the code, so do check with your employer if his country accepts this course before applying to join.

Where can I learn more about the MCA SSO course?

Take a look at this webpage for related information as to how this could advance your career as a professional yachtsman.

You can view the syllabus here.

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