Home United States USCG MMC › You are here

U.S. Coast Guard Requirements for STCW Vessel Security Officer (VSO) Merchant Mariner Credential

uscg vessel security officer

The United States Coast Guard (USCG), STCW Vessel Security Officer (VSO) is a Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) for individuals who perform the duties and responsibilities defined in 33 CFR § 104.215(D)(Iv), STCW Code Chapter VI, Section A-VI/5 and the ISPS Code.

VSO's must have knowledge and training in basic vessel layout and construction, maintaining and supervising the implementation of a vessel security plan, ship security strategies and assessments, and familiarity with key definitions, terminology, and operational practices employed in the maritime industry to name a few.


STCW and USCG CFR regulations require all personnel to have a security endorsement on their credential commensurate with their respective duties onboard as of January 1st, 2014. These endorsements are hierarchical with VSO as the highest level. 

Mariners meeting qualification for VSO are also endorsed with Vessel Personnel with Designated Security Duties (VPDSD) and Security Awareness (SA).

vso sso stcw uscg

You may also read: International Maritime Organization (IMO) STCW requirements for Ship Security Officer (SSO)

sso online home

USCG VSO General Requirements

  • Must have U.S. Citizenship
  • Must be at least Age 18
  • Medical Certificate

USCG Vessel Security Officer (VSO) Requirements

Sea Service Requirements

  • 360 days of approved service on any vessel subject to 104.105 which are listed here:
  • MODU, cargo, or passenger vessel subject to SOLAS
  • Foreign cargo vessel greater than 100 gross register tons
  • Self-propelled U.S. cargo vessel greater than 100 GRT subject to 46 CFR Subchapter I, except commercial fishing vessels inspected under 46 CFR part 105
  • Vessel subject to 46 CFR chapter I, subchapter L
  • Passenger vessel subject to 46 CFR I, subchapter H
  • Passenger vessel certificated to carry more than 150 passengers
  • Other passenger vessel carrying more than 12 passengers, including at least one passenger-for-hire, that is engaged on a international voyage
  • Barge subject to 46 CFR chapter I, subchapters D or O
  • Barge carrying certain dangerous cargo in bulk or barge that is subject to 46 CFR Chapter I, subchapter I, that is engaged on an international voyage
  • Tank ship subject to 46 CFR chapter I, subchapters D or O
  • Towing vessel greater than eight meters in registered length that is engaged in towing a barge or barges subject to this part, except a towing vessel that -Temporarily assists another vessel engaged in towing a barge or barges subject to this part; -Shifts a barge or barges subject to this part at a facility or within a fleeting facility; Assists sections of a tow through a lock; or Provides emergency assistance.,

OR

  • At least 180 days of approved service , AND Provide evidence of knowledge or training in the following areas:
  • Basic vessel layout and construction
  • Shipboard organization
  • Shipboard safety
  • Protection of the marine environment
  • Familiarity with key definitions, terminology, and operational practices employed in the maritime industry.
  • Applicants who hold an officer Endorsement valid for service on vessels MORE than 100 GRT have met the sea service and knowledge of vessel operations under this option.

Approved Training

Disclaimer: For general information purpose - please check with USCG for the latest requirements and accurate info