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Online STCW ISPS Ship Security Officer (SSO) 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].

  • Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) Approved
  • Internationally-Recognised under STCW ISPS
  • Fully Online Training Course and Official Assessments
  • Comprehensive Course Notes Downloads
  • Fast Turnaround on Official Course Certifications
  • Cost & Time-Efficient Means of Delivery of Training
  • Flexible Learning at Your Own Pace and Convenience
  • Ability to Re-Visit Earlier Subjects on Courses
  • Consistent Quality Method for the Delivery of Training

About the Online SSO Course

The SSO Course 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.

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.

Target Audience

To provide those seeking a certifcate of proficiency as a Ship Security Offcer 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.


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.

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]

Course Duration

The course lasts for approximately 21 hours (split into the three modules) depending on the learner’s abilities and reading speed. Learners can enter and exit this course as often as they require.

Online Course Subjects

  • 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).
  • And Much, Much More …

Official SSO Course 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.

Learners will receive an electronic copy of the official course certificate (in PDF format) upon successful completion of the course, and they can request a hardcopy certificate to be posted to their home address for a small administration and postage charge.

Yes, many of our courses carry internationally-recognised and accepted certification such as the STCW ISPS Courses we offer. We have to date, sold our courses into 110 countries around the world.

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.

You are required to demonstrate a good understanding of the English Language which is a requirement of the UK DfT Maritime & Coastguard Agency.

Yes, the online SSO Course is fully Approved under the UK DfT Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the official certificate contains the required wording: 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 Proficiency in Security Awareness and Designated Security Duties laid down in Regulation VI/6 and Section A-VI/6 of the STCW Convention and Code and has also met the additional criteria specified in the STCW Convention and Code, applicable to the issue of this certificate. This Certificate is issued under the authority of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, an executive agency of the Department for Transport.

You SSO Course access is granted for a period of 12 months from the date of purchase, not from the first time you access it. You must complete the course within this time period as the system will close your course off after this period of time. This access licence will expire upon 12 months, or successful completion of the course itself, whichever comes first.

The SSO Course is split into three modules and is expected to take in the region of 16 to 21 hours in total pending your understanding of the subjects, and your reading / learning speed.

No, as with any of our courses, you may enter and exit the SSO Course at any time and then re-commence where you left off. However, for the official assessments which you must complete in one sitting or the assessment you are taking will reset if you exit before completing it.

No, we have included a set of very comprehensive and high-quality SSO Course Notes. These are to assist you on the course and are for revision and reference use only. These Course Notes do not replace the requirement for you to spend the expected learning time on the course.

The SSO Courses include six official online assessments, two per module as per the requirement under the UK DfT Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA). Each assessment is made up of multiple choice and true or false answers. Questions within each assessment are randomised and taken from a larger bank of questions. You may take these assessments as many times as are required to pass the course.

Once you have successfully purchased your SSO Course, you are automatically sent two emails. One will be your Booking Confirmation email that details the course you have bought and your payment information (restricted) and personal details. The second email contains your uniquely coded login link. Sometimes this ends up in the customers spam or junk email folder, so if you do not receive this email, please check here first as you are most likely to find it. The email will come from VTC Training Wing, with the subject field containing the words ‘course enrolment’.

  • 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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