Surface Rescue Swimmer

The MSC Mission Military Sealift Command’s (MSC) mission is to supply the Navy with food, fuel, equipment and ammunition. To carry out this mission effectively, MSC performs Vertical Underway Replenishments that use helicopters to load and unload cargo while underway. During these operations, there are risks of injury and/or persons overboard. MSC needs Surface Rescue Swimmers (SRS) to perform search and rescue operations in the event of an emergency. There are two SRS assigned to each ship. Search and Rescue (SAR) operations include the recovery of U.S. & foreign aviation personnel, Department of Defense & civilian personnel and inanimate objects, as necessary. SRS are trained to save lives, and since the program’s inception, there have been numerous incidents where MSC SRS have been utilized to assist and recover personnel in distress.

Position Responsibilities

The Surface Rescue Swimmer Program consists of a cadre of civilian mariners who are trained to evaluate the condition of survivors in the water and provide immediate assistance to ensure their successful recovery. It is a collateral duty, which means you will serve as an SRS in addition to your MSC position, such as Able Seaman or Deck Engineer Machinist.

To qualify for SRS Training, you must pass an SRS Medical Screening, as well as accomplish the following physical tests:

  • Minimum of 50 sit-ups in two minutes
  • Minimum of 42 push-ups in two minutes
  • 1.5 mile run in less than 12 minutes
  • 400 meter swim in less than 11 minutes

During your time as a SRS, you will be required to pass physical and swimming tests at designated intervals. Continued physical fitness training is required.

Surface Rescue Swimmer School

SRS School will be the most rigorous part of the process, and you will be training alongside U.S. Navy SRS candidates. 

All instructors are Rescue Swimmers, qualified in lifesaving techniques, first aid, CPR and are certified lifeguards. After graduation, you will be expected to safely and effectively respond to various maritime emergencies.

As a Surface Rescue Swimmer, you will be required to:

  • Be in and maintain proper physical condition
  • Be proficient with rescue equipment
  • Have basic first aid and CPR knowledge
  • Have the skills to recover and assist personnel during SAR operations
  • Have the ability to function in physically demanding environments at sea during day and night operations


Incentives are offered to MSC Surface Rescue Swimmers. Examples are:

  • $750 Cash Award upon graduation from SRS School and a $2,000 Cash Award if selected as the class Honor Graduate

  • Annual award that can grow as high as $5,000 per year for maintaining SRS Qualifications and for satisfactory performance of SRS duties

  • Premium hourly pay for hours earned while engaged in SRS activities in addition to normal pay

  • Paid physical training and paid equipment maintenance time

  • On-the-spot monetary awards and time off awards based on aspects of service

Entry to the SRS Program may only occur after being hired, and may only occur after completion of all other MSC required entry training.

If you are a CIVMAR and are interested in applying for the SRS Program, contact the CIVMAR Support Center at 800-793-5784 or the SRS Coordinator at 757-439-9349.