Mariners’ Mile will soon have a training center fit for the neighborhood’s longtime name, as Orange Coast College officials and others officially broke ground for the planned facility at an event recently.
Representatives from OCC, as well as Coast Community College District and the city of Newport Beach, held a groundbreaking ceremony for OCC’s new Mariner Training Center on Sept. 23. The new center is located at 1700 West Coast Hwy., across from the College’s School of Sailing & Seamanship at 1801 PCH.
The two-story, 12,000-square-foot project is the result of more than 15 years of planning by the Coast Community College District, according to a Sept. 17 press release.
According to Brad Avery, OCC School of Sailing and Seamanship director and Newport Beach city councilman, the new building represents a major leap forward for the college’s boating education programs.
“When completed and connected to our waterfront facility, we will have a fully integrated maritime education center,” Avery said in a prepared statement. “This helps us greatly in our mission of helping students acquire the knowledge and skills required for success in a variety of maritime careers.”
Once construction is complete, expected by fall 2021, the building will be the new home for OCC’s growing professional mariner program, which is dedicated to students who are pursuing careers in boating and maritime related fields, officials note in the press release.
Beyond classrooms, the facility will include a state-of-the-art laboratory space, a full mission bridge simulator, a radar training room, conference room, and a student lounge.
The college purchased the land from Orange County Sanitation District in 2016.
The center will be built above ground-level parking and connected to OCC’s harbor side facility by a “skyway” pedestrian bridge over PCH, officials explain in the statement. The $22 million project is funded by the local Measure M school bond, passed by voters in 2012.
In 2017, the California Coastal Commission approved the footbridge, which will connect the two maritime-related facilities and be open to the public for better access to the water.
Plans for the bridge describe it as 12 feet wide by 120 feet long, and approximately 10 feet high from the bridge deck to the canopy.
In addition to stairways, it would include 35-foot elevator shaft towers on each side (the highest points of the structure), which complies with the city’s Local Coastal Program’s shoreline height limitations.
OCC’s Marine Program currently serves more than 1,500 students and adults annually. Professional mariner students pursue certificate and degree programs, while local residents take advantage of the dozens of boating and seamanship courses regularly offered. While some professional mariner students choose to go straight into the industry, others transfer to four-year maritime academies.