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Pacific Northwest Maritime Education Alliance receives excellence designation

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) announced that the Pacific Northwest Maritime Education Alliance (PAC Maritime) is among 32 entities designated as Centers of Excellence for Domestic Maritime Workforce Training and Education (COE).

PAC Maritime is an alliance of seven community and technical colleges and one maritime training entity in Washington and Oregon – including Skagit Valley College, North Seattle College, Seattle Central College, South Seattle College, Clark College, Peninsula College, Portland Community College and Crawford Nautical Training.

PAC Maritime is one of six designees in Washington and Oregon.

The COE designation recognizes colleges and training institutions that prepare students for careers in United States maritime industry. The designated Centers of Excellence consist of 50 maritime training locations in 17 states and Guam.

Designation recognizes and promotes support to post-secondary maritime training programs preparing students for careers in the maritime industry.

“Our country depends on a highly-skilled mariner workforce to strengthen both our economy and our national security,” said Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Transportation Secretary. “The 32 Centers of Excellence we're designating today will promote training opportunities outside of traditional four-year degree programs and will bring more Americans into these great maritime careers.”

Section 51706 of title 46 United States Code authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to designate a domestic maritime workforce training and education entity as a “Center of Excellence” if such entity, among other things, is demonstrably successful in maritime workforce training and education.

“Our Centers of Excellence designations recognize the high standards of maritime education and training provided by these organizations,” said Ann Phillips, maritime administrator. “These institutions play a critical role in providing domestic mariners with the expertise needed to best serve the maritime industry.”

MARAD published a solicitation for applications in the Federal Register on July 20, 2023, for eligible and qualified training entities, under the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. The approved entities include thirty-eight postsecondary educational institutions; one postsecondary vocational institution; four non-profit structured experiential training programs; four registered apprenticeship sponsors; three maritime training centers; and four organizations containing a combination of the above-mentioned entities.

“We are proud to lead this effort and embrace the challenge of supporting a resilient and competitive maritime industry in our two-state region,” said Dr. Christopher Villa, SVC president. “PAC Maritime will allow us to further our programs as leaders in maritime education.”

PAC Maritime has active and ongoing relationships with industry and workforce education partners such as Yamaha Motor Corporation, Vigor Industrial, the U.S. Coast Guard, SAFE Boats, Washington State Ferries, Dunlap Towing, Dakota Creek Industries, the American Boat and Yacht Council, the American Welding Society, and the National Marine Electronics Association. These collaborative relationships contribute to the preparation of student technicians and their entry into the maritime workforce.

“The industry in our region has deep technical workforce needs, both ashore and afloat, PAC Maritime will leverage our collective programmatic strength to meet those needs,” said Villa. “We also congratulate the other Washington and Oregon designees and look forward to collaborative opportunities moving forward.”

The full list of designees and a searchable map can be found on the COE homepage.

For more information about PAC Maritime, please contact Ann Avary at


Skagit Valley College is making a difference throughout Skagit, Island, and San Juan counties by providing access to higher education for all who seek a better future. Part of what makes our college special is that we are deeply committed to equity in access, achievement, and community. Whether you are training for a new job, beginning your college experience, finishing the degree you started, adding English language skills, or pursuing a high school credential, Skagit Valley College welcomes you.

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