OSMS and You: Marine Safety Engineering

This blog post is the 28th in a series of posts highlighting the various specialties and subspecialties offered by the recently launched Officer Specialty Management System. Stay tuned as we share key information about each specialty/subspecialty in the coming weeks!




The Marine Safety Engineering (MSE) Program, OAP-16, is comprised of Marine Safety Engineers that are known as the technical experts in all aspects of commercial vessel and offshore safety and design. MSEs perform a key function in the Coast Guard’s Prevention program by developing new standards and policy to improve safety, reviewing vessel plans for compliance with Coast Guard standards, and providing technical advice to the field during casualties. The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 requires the Coast Guard to produce MSEs who have both education and experience. The Act specifically identifies MSEs as having the knowledge, skill, and practical experience in the construction and operation of commercial vessels and the ability to judge the strength, stability and safety qualities of such vessels and their equipment. This unique skill set ensures that the Coast Guard has the personnel to meet the critical prevention mission.




MSEs work alongside key partners in the maritime industry, manage project teams of highly-educated technical experts, and provide subject matter expertise to regulatory teams and outside customers on a day-to-day basis. This work impacts the safety, cost, and schedule of countless vessels and floating offshore platforms, with costs upwards of billions of dollars. The skills acquired through MSE advanced education enhance the Coast Guard’s ability to serve these customers in a competent and professional manner.

This job sounds interesting, how do I become an MSE?

Each year, a panel meets to consider and select applicants for our five MSE Advanced Education Programs. These programs are:

– Marine Engineering
– Mechanical Engineering
– Electrical Power Systems & Controls Engineering
– Fire Protection Engineering
– Chemical Engineering

On average, we have approximately 10-15 total Training Allowance Billets for our MSE Advanced Education programs each year. Candidates most competitive for selection are high performing officers with undergraduate degrees in engineering, math or science. Following successful completion of one of our programs, you then need to be assigned to one of our payback billets located at the Marine Safety Center, in the Office of Design and Engineering Standards (CG-ENG), or one of our National Centers of Expertise: liquefied gas carrier, cruise ship, or outer continental shelf. When these requirements are met, you can apply for the OAP-16 designation.




After completion of the payback tour, MSEs are typically assigned to high profile leadership positions at sectors or marine safety units because of their postgraduate education, technical competencies, and extensive experience. Additionally, MSE is one of the prerequisites for assignment as Prevention Department Head and one of the flag officer positions.

To read about the work our MSEs complete and to see them in action, please take a look at our biannual MSE Newsletter.

To find out more about our program, please visit our website or contact the MSE Advanced Education Program Manager in CG-ENG-1 at 202-372-1387.

Additional information on MSE OAP-16 specialty code is available on the OPM-3 OSMS website.

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