Ship’s security is one of the greatest concerns for any shipping company whose ships transit International Waters. Though there are advanced security systems such as the Ship Security Alert System (SSAS) and the Ship Security Reporting System (SSRS) used to effectively enhance maritime security, contribution of the crew towards the ship’s security plays a vital role and the mitigation of security-related incidents.
The Ship Security Officer [SSO], also referred to as a Vessel Security Officer [VSO] is responsible for the security measures implemented on board, in accordance with the Ship Security Plan [SSP] and the ISPS Code. Amongst many other responsibilities, the SSO is responsible for the implementation of the security measures that are laid out within the Ship Security Plan at all times the vessel is underway or in Port.
As well as the ongoing maintenance of the Ship Security Plan, the SSO must ensure that all crew members, especially those tasked with Designated Security Duties fulfil their obligations towards the security integrity of the vessel.
The aim of the Ship Security Officer [SSO] Course, is to provide those seeking a certificate of proficiency as a Ship Security Officer the essential education and training meeting the Knowledge, Understanding and Proficiency (KUP) requirements set out which supports Chapter XI-2 of the annex to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) 1974, as amended and the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.
The SSO Course has been developed with the following considerations:
VIRSEC also offers the following tailored versions of the Ship Security Officer [SSO] Course for the following vessel types:
The Ship Security Officer [SSO] Course is fully Approved under the UK Department for Transport Maritime & Coastguard Agency [MCA] and meets with STCW Reg VI/5. paragraph 1 and Section A-VI/5, paragraphs 1 to 4 of the STCW Convention and Code 1978, as amended and incorporates both the Proficiency in Security Awareness [PSA] and Designated Security Duties [PDSD] Certification.
Under the Awarding Body [Maritime & Coastguard Agency], there are currently no expiry dates placed on the [STCW ISPS] Proficiency as Ship Security Officer course certificates. Learners do not currently have to undertake a refresher or re-certification of this course unless directed to do so by the company they are working for.
The SSO Course meets with the following Learning Outcomes as set out by the Merchant Navy Training Board.
The Ship Security Officer [SSO] Course duration is approximately 21 hours. A slight variation is allowed for individual reading speeds, but this minimum must be met in order to successfully pass this course. Learners may enter and exit the course as often as they require. Your licence allows you access to the course for up to 6 months to complete [if required] or upon successful completion of the course.
Under the mandatory requirement of the UK Department for Transport Maritime & Coastguard Agency [MCA], learners wishing to undertake the course must possess 12 months sea service, or as at the discretion of the MCA, appropriate sea service (minimum of 3 months) and knowledge of ships operations to enable them to achieve the Objectives of the training provided. By taking this course, you are stating that you possess the relevant requirements.
Learners taking this Online MCA Approved STCW ISPS Proficiency as Ship Security Officer [SSO] Course are required to be invigilated by a Senior Officer on board the vessel, or if taking the invigilation at home they must have a person of good standing [police officer, lawyer, doctor, etc] act as their Invigilator. Please note that you cannot have a family member or friend act as your Invigilator. If you do not have access to either of the options above, please see below for Remote Invigilation Sessions.
You are able to take the course fully online as expected, but we also have enabled an offline capability available through an APP (available via Googleplay or the Apple App Store). You may download the course to the APP and take the course whilst at sea, or in areas of poor internet quality. Once you have returned to land, or are in an area of good signal quality, you may then upload the course to the system, and sync it with your User area on the LMS [https://virseclms.org]. To learn more about taking the course(s) offline, please contact us at email@example.com.
Learners can also attend a free Remote Invigilation Session offered by VIRSEC whilst undertaking the Course Assessment(s). These are offered strictly Monday to Thursday [1400 to 1600 hrs BST/GMT] or Friday [1000 to 1200 hrs BST/GMT].
The online Ship Security Officers [SSO] Course is fully approved by the UK DfT Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) and is internationally recognised and accepted under STCW. It includes the 2010 Manila Amendments and conforms to Regulation VI/5, paragraph 1, and Section A-VI/5, paragraphs 1 to 4 of the STCW Convention and Code 1978, as amended, and incorporates the Proficiency in Designated Security Duties [PDSD] and the Proficiency in Security Awareness [PSA] as laid down in Regulation VI/6 and Section A-VI/6 of the STCW Convention and Code, applicable to the issue of this certificate.
Upon successful completion of the online course, verification of Learner ID, and associated official Assessment, Learners will receive an electronic security-encrypted version of your official course certificate [in secure PDF format]. Certificates are usually emailed to the Learner within 24 to 48 hours of confirmation of the course results, or the next working day if complete on Friday.
Should a Learner require the certificate to be expedited, either after office hours, at weekends, holidays, or other, a surcharge of £49.95 GBP [+VAT] will be charged and sent by Secure Payment Link. Please note that all payments must be made before the certificate is sent.
Learners may also request an embossed stamped, hardcopy certificate to be posted to their home address. This is a free of charge service for Learners attending the SSO Course. Please note that VIRSEC is not responsible for any loss or delay of the certificate once it has been dispatched to Royal Mail. Should a Carrier Service be requested, then the relevant charges will be applied and all payments must be made before the certificate is posted.
Yes, the fully online Proficiency as Ship Security Officer (SSO) Course, also referred to as Vessel Security Officer (VSO) is fully Approved under the UK Department for Transport, Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA). The course complies with the requirements placed upon it by the STCW Convention & Code, the International Ship & Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, and meets with the Knowledge, Understanding & Proficiency (KUP) requirements laid out by the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB).
Yes, this course is fully compliant with the Standards of Training, Certification & Watchkeeping (STCW). Any country that is signed up to the ISPS Code and STCW Convention should accept our certification. We have to date provided our courses into 130 countries worldwide.
All our courses have a six (6) month access licence applied to them. This licence commences the day the course is purchased, and not from the day you first access the course.
No, VIRSEC provides you with a comprehensive set of Course Notes that you can download at the start of each of the Learning Outcomes. You can also use these notes to research any answers when taking the Official Assessment at the end of the course.
On the Proficiency as Ship Security Officer (SSO) Course, there is an Assessment on completion of the six Learning Outcomes. You must achieve a minimum score of 70% to successfully complete the Assessment.
If you fail the Assessment, you may retake it again straight away, or whenever you wish within the 6-month licence applicable to your course [licences commence the day the course is purchased, not the date they are accessed].
No, the course is 100% online and you are required to adhere to the strict requirements outlined in the course explanation as well as any requests made of you during the course such as completing and submitting your online Learner Verification.
Yes, you are required to submit an official form of ID such as a scan of your passport, driving licence, or other official photo ID. This is to ensure you are who you state yourself to be, and so we can use this ID to collect the relevant information that will populate your official course certificate. It is very easy to do and will only take you around five (5) minutes to do.
Yes, for the Ship Security Officer there is a requirement for an invigilator to be present during your Assessment only. This can be the Master, Ship Security officer or other Officer ranked member of the crew. They will be required to complete the Online Invigilator Verification Form on our website [also linked from the course itself]. They must complete this form and be present at your Assessment. If you do not have access to an invigilator, please see the following question.
If you do not have access to an Invigilator, you must inform VIRSEC, and we will arrange for you to attend an online Remote Invigilation Session. This is currently a free of charge service we offer our learners, but you must make yourself available for the relevant session. You can arrange a Remote Invigilation Session by completing the online form accessed from the menu on the VIRSEC website under Online Forms. Please note that failing to attend an arranged Remote Invigilation Session may result in a charge for any subsequent requests.
When you complete the course correctly and pass the Official Assessment, we will verify your time spent on the course, your submitted ID, and your Official Assessment. Once we are satisfied, we will email you a secure, encrypted PDF of your certificate that you must print off and sign. These PDFs are security encrypted to prevent any tampering with information placed on them, and so you must print them off to sign with as black pen.
Yes, under the relevant Agencies and Conventions, the Security Awareness is a 21-hour course. This excludes any video content we have included [for interest], viewing of any websites linked from the course or documents also linked from the course.
We are allowed a slight variation in timings due to individual reading speeds, but we will fail you if you exceed the allowed variance. Please note that the Course Notes are purely there for reference and revision, and any time spent reading these do not count towards your time spent on the course. This is also covered in the course itself, so make sure you spend the time necessary to study properly.
You can take a break from the course at any time of your choosing. We also recommend that you have regular breaks and often build reminders into our courses. It is strongly recommended that if you are going to take a significant break, we recommend that you log out. The system will remember your progress so you may continue from that point when you log back in.
If you complete the course in an unrealistic time (too quickly) we will have no alternative but to fail you. It is important that you treat this like you would any officially Approved course taught in a classroom environment. The fact that it is online is not reason to abuse the requirements. As stated in other FAQs, we do allow a slight variance in timings due to individual reading speeds.
No, we do not take into consideration your time served, nor your rank. This is an ISPS Course, and there is an acceptable minimum time set by the relevant Awarding Body and Governing Bodies. If you abuse this, or do not meet with any of these requirements, you will fail the course regardless of the score achieved in the Assessment(s). You will be required to re-take the course and associated assessments.
VIRSEC are not responsible for you leaving your course until the last minute, and you run the risk of not receiving your certificate in the time needed. Certificates take up to 48 hours during the working week to turn around, and should this fall over a weekend, you may not receive the certificate until the next working day [holidays excluded]. If you require your certificate to be expedited, you may request this from VIRSEC, but we are under absolutely no obligation to do this and there will be an additional charge applied.
Learners are able to purchase courses and take them 365 days a year, 24 hours a day as we are an online company, with access to both our e-Commerce website and Learning Management System [LMS]. However, the company is open during the hours listed on its website [0900 to 1700 hrs GMT/BST Monday to Thursday, 0900 to 1500 hrs Friday, Closed Saturday & Sunday and Bank Holidays]. Support requests may be made but will be managed during these listed office hours.
VIRSEC do have a Chat Facility on their website and you may make a request for support. However, this is only manned during the hours listed on its website [0900 to 1700 hrs GMT/BST Monday to Thursday, 0900 to 1500 hrs Friday, Closed Saturday & Sunday and Bank Holidays]. Responses to comments or enquiries may take up to 24 hours, or until the next working day as detailed.
Very good course. Very thorough and really expanded my knowledge. Extremely helpful to have this course online. Thank you.
Brilliant course and structure with variations in learning material. The combination of videos and running assessments through each module help to keep the focus and information retention. Will thoroughly recommend this course to other crew in the future.
I was originally booked in to complete the Proficiency as a Ship Security Officer course, with a different provider, in a class based environment. Due to the Covid-19 Lock Down the original course was cancelled and I found VIRSEC. The International Cruise Company I work for confirmed that VIRSEC met all the requirements to provide this course to MCA Standards. I found this course to be extremely easy to work through, with well set out objectives and knowledge modules. Exams are completed at the end of each learning module with questions relating to that module. This makes the whole learning and testing process very effective. In addition at the end of each objective there is additional reference material simply set out and easy to find in a reference slide. Throughout the process the team at VIRSEC have been available and they have quickly responded to any questions. Overall I have found the course provided to be excellent and I would fully recommend it.
Excellent course. The software worked really well with no technical issues at all. The ability to stop/start the course made it very manageable to complete the course without stress or urgency. Taking away travel time and accommodation costs of having to go to a college made the experience even more worthwhile.
The VIRSEC ISPS SSO is a thorough and comprehensive online course which fits the requirements of MCA training. I was surprised by the depth and clarity of the content within the course. It has opened my eyes to the possibilities of online course programmes.
This course was fantastically laid out with great resources on a super platform. It was easy to navigate, understand and learn and would use this company again for other short courses.
I couldn’t ask for more about this course. It provided me with the right knowledge. I am now more than confident to perform my duty as a security officer.
The online SSO course is a brilliant way to gain your SSO cert. I didn’t have to travel away from my home on my leave and sit listening to a man with a PowerPoint clicker for the best part of a week. You can do it at your own pace, at your own desk with a nice cup of tea in between modules. The video sections and reading material are very specific. The download links and hyperlink “keep for reference” reminders, I am sure will come in handy in the future.
Overall the course was extremely helpful in outlining the regulatory, legal, and practical elements of the SSO role. The course information at times containing multiple dates, names, regulations, sub parts was slightly overwhelming but then expected in an online course when there is so much to take in. I did however enjoy the course overall and found the interface easy to use. Also the staff (Liv) was very helpful and quick to respond to any queries I had. Thank you.
A lot of great stuff in here and accompanied by all the relevant documents and where to find other supporting information. Even better that it is available to download to keep as reference material later after the course. My only criticism is the amount of information for me is potentially too much and can be overwhelming to see it all in lengthy slides. I am glad I have the reference material though to keep me in check later down the line. Thank you.
VIRSEC are dedicated to delivering only the very highest standard of cost-effective, flexible, online training to our customers.