The facility will be the new home for OCC’s growing Professional Mariner Program.
NEWPORT BEACH―Shovels have officially hit the dirt at what will be Orange Coast College School of Sailing and Seamanship’s new Mariner Training Center in Newport Beach.
Set to open in the fall of 2021, the building will be home to OCC’s growing Professional Mariner Program, which offers an associate degree or certificate program for students who are pursuing careers in boating and maritime related fields. The two-story, 12,000-square-foot facility will include classrooms, a conference room and a student lounge, as well as a state-of-the-art laboratory space, a full mission bridge simulator, and a radar training room. There will also be ground-level parking below the building.
The center will be located across Pacific Coast Highway from the college’s facility on Newport Harbor. A skyway bridge over PCH will connect the new center to the school’s harbor side facility. A ground breaking ceremony was held in September and construction is in full force. The $22 million project was funded by the local Measure M school bond, passed by voters in 2012.
“After we started the program about seven years ago it quickly matched our capacity at this location,” said Brad Avery, the director of OCC School of Sailing and Seamanship. “We actually saw this coming about 15 years ago because we knew we would need another location for this program.”
Avery has led the effort to build the Mariner Training Center due to growth in their Professional Mariner Program. He said the need to expand was sparked by demand in the boating industry and state and nationwide efforts to boost career education opportunities outside of four-year colleges.
“People were coming to us from the industry saying we’re looking for deck hands for our boats,” he said. “It became apparent there were people seeking students who had skills sets in boating.”
The unique school is one of a few of its kind nationwide, with the Professional Mariner Program offering an associate degree. The school also offers dozens of community boating and seamanship courses for students of all ages.
The Professional Mariner Program prepares students for jobs on private/charter yachts, cruise ships, fishing vessels, passenger ferries, dive boats, supply/tug boats and research vessels. Some students choose to go straight into the industry and others transfer to four-year maritime academies.
Avery noted because OCC School of Sailing and Seamanship is a community college, they are able to serve a wide range of students and provide tuition cost assistance to those who need it. The state provides a program called Board of Governors Fee Waiver (BOGW), which waives enrollment fees for qualifying students at California Community Colleges. OCC of Sailing and Seamanship also offers scholarships for books and other program-related costs.
Avery said the Professional Mariner Program currently has about 50 students. By the time the Mariner Training Center is open and classes start in the fall of 2021, he said they are hoping that number will double.
“We’re adding curriculum, we’re adding adjunct faculty,” he said.
The program not only offers students classroom education but also hands-on experience. The school has more than a dozen boats at the waterfront facility where students put in time learning first hand. Those boats have all been donated by community members. Avery attributes part of the success of the program to community support.
“Incredible support of the community that’s made this happen,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of private giving over the years.”
OCC School of Sailing and Seamanship also offers community sailing courses for all levels, youth and family sailing camps, keelboating classes, cruising courses, powerboat operation and seamanship courses. The school currently serves more than 1,500 students and adults annually.
For more information on OCC School of Sailing and Seamanship and classes visit occsailing.com/