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Online MCA Approved STCW ISPS Proficiency as Ship Security Officer (Superyachts) Course

The ever-growing threat of attack from maritime pirates, armed robbers, and various terrorists’ organisations becoming a very real concern for those vessels transiting through waters that have been designated as High-Risk Areas or HRAs. When the ISPS Code came into effect in 2004, ships that are required to be in compliance with the Code must have a Ship Security Officer onboard. The Ship’s Security Officer will maintain an effective security system and report directly to the assigned Company Security Officer. This Ship Security Officer (SSO) course is specifically designed for any knowledgeable and able crew member who will carry out the official duties of a Ship Security Officer, functioning under the ISPS Code and meeting with the requirements of Chapter VI of the STCW Convention and Code 1978 [as Amended by the 2010 Manila Amendments]. This course has been tailored for the crew and staff of the Superyacht & Mega Yacht Sector.

  • Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) Approved
  • Internationally Recognised under STCW ISPS
  • Tailored for Superyachts & Mega Yachts
  • Comprehensive Course Notes Downloads
  • Fully Online and Interactive Training Materials
  • Learning Confirmation & Official Final Assessment
  • Cost & Time-Efficient Means of Delivery of Training
  • Fast Turnaround on Official Course Certifications
  • Flexible Learning at Your Own Pace and Convenience

About the Online SSO Course (Superyachts & Mega Yachts)

This fully online STCW ISPS Proficiency as Ship Security Officer (SSO) Course for the Superyacht & Mega Yacht Sector will develop the potential Ship Security Officer’s ability to carry out all the other responsibilities in accordance with the ISPS Code, associated Manila Amendments and in compliance with the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB) Knowledge, Understanding & Proficiency, the STCW Convention and IMO Model Course 3.19 and is key to ensuring that those persons performing the role of the Ship Security Officer fully understand their duties and responsibilities.

Please Note: We also provide the (STCW ISPS) SSO Course for the following Sectors:

Regulations Addressed

VIRSEC's Ship Security Officer Course has been developed with the following considerations:

  • MNTB Security Courses Criteria [2nd Edition]
  • Regulation VI/5 and Section A-VI/5 of the STCW Convention and Code [2010]
  • IMO Model Course 3.19 [2012 Edition]
  • Chapter XI-2 of the annex to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention 1978 [as amended]
  • The International Ship & Port Security (ISPS) Code 2004 as amended [STCW Table A-VI/5]

Target Audience

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 by the STCW supporting 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.

Awarding Body

This online SSO course is fully approved and certified under the UK Department for Transport Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) and meets with Regulation VI/5, paragraph 1, and Section A-VI/5, paragraphs 1 to 4 of the STCW Convention and Code 1978, as amended. Ship Security Officer certification incorporates both the Security Awareness and Designated Security Duties certification.

Course Learning Outcomes

The Online (STCW ISPS) Proficiency in Designated Security Duties (PDSD) meets with the following Learning Outcomes as set out by the Merchant Navy Training Board.

  1. The learner understands the importance of ship security and the roles and responsibilities of organisations and individuals involved in it.
  2. The learner knows how to assess security risk, threat, and vulnerability to the ship, its personnel, cargo, and operations.
  3. The learner understands the capabilities and limitations of security methods, equipment, and systems.
  4. The learner knows how to implement a ship security plan and related regulatory requirements.
  5. The learner knows how to determine the effectiveness of current security arrangements, procedures, and equipment.
  6. The learner understands how to promote security awareness and vigilance on board ship.

Course Duration

The course duration is approximately 21 hours. 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.

Viewing the Course

Due to the nature of these online courses, and the interactivity required at times by the Learner, it is highly-recommended that you view the course on either a Tablet Device, Laptop or Desktop. Mobile phones do not allow for the Learner to fully engage with and receive the full benefits of the e-Learning Course.


Those undertaking the training must have either:

  • Approved seagoing service of not less than 12 months, or
  • At the discretion of the MCA appropriate sea service (minimum three months) and knowledge of ships operations to enable them to achieve the objectives of the training. If this is the case, then the learner must provide proof of such.

Learners without one of the above may take the SSO Course but will receive PDSD Certification until such a time as they can demonstrate the relevant sea time, at which point we will upgrade their certification free of charge.

Course Subjects

A subject-rich course meeting with the requirements of the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB).

  • The Development of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code.
  • Understand the roles and responsibilities of relevant bodies and organisations.
  • The roles and responsibilities of Contracting Governments, Designated Authorities, and Recognised Security Organisations.
  • The Security Roles & Responsibilities of Crew and Port Security Personnel.
  • Measures and Procedures for Maritime Security (MARSEC) Levels.
  • Recognition of weapons, dangerous substances, and devices.
  • Recognition of persons who may pose a threat to the security of the ship.
  • Identifying techniques used to circumvent security measures.
  • The handling of Sensitive Security-Related Information (SSRI) and Communications.
  • Identifying security threats including Maritime Piracy & Armed Robbery against Shipping.
  • Declarations of Security (DoS).
  • The On-Scene Security Survey.
  • The Ship Security Assessment (SSA).
  • The Ship Security Plan (SSP).
  • The provisions for maintaining security.
  • Criteria for setting Maritime Security (MARSEC) levels under the ISPS Code.
  • Actions to prevent weapons, dangerous substances and devices being brought on board.
  • Guidance and measure for Anti-Piracy and Anti-Armed Robbery.
  • Responses to Emergency Situations including Maritime Piracy & Armed Robbery against Shipping.
  • Physical Searches & Non-Intrusive Inspections.
  • Crowd Management & Control Requirements.
  • Crew Training, Emergency Drills & Exercises.
  • European Commission (DG MOVE) and European Maritime Safety Agency.
  • Port and Flag States.
  • UK DfT Maritime Security and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
  • Recognised security organisations and limitations in their use.
  • The Shipping Company.
  • Masters Authority and Discretion for Ship Safety and Security.
  • Authority of the Duly Authorised Officer (DAO).
  • The legal implications for seafarers and security personnel.
  • The requirement for the provision of the ship identification number (SIN), Automatic Identification System (AIS), Ship Security Alert System (SSAS) and Long-Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT).
  • The purpose and control of the continuous synopsis record (CSR).
  • The purpose and use of the Long-Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT).

Official MCA Approved (STCW ISPS) Proficiency as Ship Security Officer Certification

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.

Secure PDF Certificate

Upon successful completion of the online course, verification of Learner ID, and associated official Assessment, Learners will receive an electronic version of the official course certificate (in secure, encrypted PDF format). Certificates are usually sent out within 24 hours of confirmation of your results, or the next working day.

Hardcopy, Embossed Stamped Certificate

Learners who have completed the Ship Security Officer course, may request a hardcopy certificate to be posted to their home address FREE of CHARGE.

Yes, the fully online Proficiency as Ship Security Officer or SSO Course, 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 and fulfilling the Invigilation requirements.

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 Course, there is a requirement for an invigilator to be present during your Assessment only. This can be the Master, existing 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 a free of charge service we offer our learners, but you must make yourself available for the relevant session.

When you complete the course correctly and pass the Official Assessment, we will verify your time spent on the course, your submitted ID, Invigilation requirements, and your Official Assessment. Once we are satisfied, we will email you a secure 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 a time set by the relevant Awarding body and Governing Bodies. If you abuse this, you will fail to meet the minimum requirements regardless of the score achieved in the Assessment(s).

  • SSO Testimonial Reference by: Hamish B.

    Very good course. Very thorough and really expanded my knowledge. Extremely helpful to have this course online. Thank you.

  • SSO Testimonial Reference by: Paul T.

    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.

  • SSO Testimonial Reference by: Gary H.

    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 the Virtual Training Centre Online. The International Cruise Company I work for confirmed that Virtual Training 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 VTC 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.

  • SSO Testimonial Reference by: Peter H.

    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.

  • SSO Testimonial Reference by: Duncan M.

    The VTC 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.

  • SSO Testimonial Reference by: Sarra H-W.

    Thank you very much for the opportunity to take this course online during lock down. It was well presented and I enjoyed the experience as well as learning a lot. I heartily recommend it and have in fact already done so on the yachting websites.

  • SSO Testimonial Reference by: Mike S.

    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.

  • SSO Testimonial Reference by: Moctar F.

    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.

  • SSO Testimonial Reference by: Fraser R.

    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.

£560.00 Ex VAT

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