U.S. Dept. of Transportation Designates OCC Waterfront Campus ‘Center of Excellence’

OCC Marketing and Public Relations
May 21, 2021
  • News Release
rendered drawing of marine vessel simulator with wheel attached to machine and surrounded by screens

Orange Coast College has been named one of 27 Centers of Excellence for Domestic Maritime Workforce Training and Education (CoE) for 2021 by the United States Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration.

 The announcement, made earlier this week, comes on the heels of OCC’s announcement that its Newport Beach facility has been renamed The Orange Coast College Waterfront Campus.

 “Orange Coast College’s professional mariner and sailing programs have long been the standard of excellence in maritime training and education,” says OCC President Angelica Suarez. “This CoE designation formally recognizes the tremendous value OCC provides in preparing students for successful careers in the nation’s maritime industry.”

 The Maritime Administration (MARAD) grants institutions that receive the CoE designation permission to identify themselves as recipients. Designees may state that MARAD has determined their institution and their maritime training programs meet the qualifying standards as stated in 46 US Code § 54102, approved by the U.S. Congress in 2018.

 “This designation is a proud achievement for our students, faculty, and staff,” says John Weispfenning, Chancellor of the Coast Community College District. “It is an acknowledgement of a legacy of excellence that has stretched back for decades and transformed many lives.” 

The CoE designation opens the door to MARAD entering into cooperative agreements with designated institutions to help advance recruitment of students and faculty, enhance facilities, award student credit for military service, and potentially receive assistance in the form of surplus equipment or temporary use of MARAD vessels.

 “We’re looking forward to this new partnership with MARAD,” says OCC Waterfront Campus Director Sarah Hirsch. “The professional mariner program at Orange Coast College’s Waterfront Campus is in a growth phase with new facilities and technology coming on-line in July, and the visibility and support from this high-profile designation comes at the perfect time.”

 Previously named the Intercollegiate Rowing and Sailing Base, OCC’s Newport Harbor facility is finishing construction on a significant expansion, including a $22 million maritime training center connected to the harbor-side facility by a skyway bridge over Pacific Coast Highway. Construction is scheduled to be complete in Summer 2021.

“Orange Coast College is leading the way as a center of innovation and water safety for our community of marine trade and tourism,” said Jim Moreno, President of the Coast District Board of Trustees. “We in Orange County have long appreciated the excellence of the OCC Waterfront Campus, and we celebrate the campus's national presence and reputation.”