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Home : Safety Promotions : News
NEWS | Sept. 18, 2023

NAVSAFENVTRACEN Receives COE Accreditation

By Amy Robinson, Naval Safety Command Safety Promotions-Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. -- After more than two years of hard work, the Naval Safety and Environmental Training Center (NAVSAFENVTRACEN) received confirmation that the Commission of the Council on Occupational Education (COE) approved the center’s request for accreditation Sept. 7.
The long-awaited good news was announced during NAVSAFENVTRACEN’s change of command ceremony Sept. 8, when Rear Adm. Christopher Engdahl, commander of Naval Safety Command and presiding official for the ceremony, highlighted the achievement as one of the center’s many accomplishments.
“Leading from the front through a comprehensive revision of (the center’s) course curriculum through development and management methodologies, the team secured learning center accreditation status through the Council of Occupational Education yesterday,” Engdahl said.
NAVSAFENVTRACEN announced its intent to seek accreditation in August 2021, and the center was approved for COE candidacy Oct. 18, 2021. Candidate status allowed NAVSAFENVTRACEN to move forward on the path to accreditation and began a lengthy process that included workshops, self-study of training center processes, and visits from COE representatives.
The most recent and final COE visit, which was essentially an audit, took place April 26-27, 2023, where representatives examined the NAVSAFENVTRACEN’s programs, gathering the information required to determine whether the COE would vote to approve the center’s accreditation in the fall.
“We treated the visit like an inspector general audit, but we really didn’t know specifically what they were going to look at,” said then-Cmdr. Charles Wilhite, former NAVSAFENVTRACEN commander, who was promoted during the center’s change of command and relieved by Cmdr. Nicholas Schaal.
“So we made sure our processes were very tight and that we were following best practices of the industry,” Wilhite said. “Our instructors really worked hard to ensure every aspect of what we're doing as an education facility was in line with best practices.”
Wilhite emphasized that when he said NAVSAFENVTRACEN instructors worked hard, it took every instructor on the team – it was “all hands on deck” throughout the 14-month accreditation process, which also happened to align with the chief of naval operations’ “Get Real Get Better” efforts to identify, correct and improve processes throughout the Navy.
“It was a momentous push by the whole command, and we revamped and rewrote every instruction the schoolhouse had,” he said.
The work paid off. The COE’s visit resulted in no critical findings and the training center only received three noncritical findings, which were of an administrative nature. The COE’s final report on this visit was completed in May, and the board voted to approve NAVSAFENVTRACEN’s accreditation earlier this month.

Now, as a COE-accredited institution, the training center is recognized for meeting or exceeding the COE’s criteria for educational standards and student achievement, which assures that NAVSAFENVTRACEN provides high-quality instruction in career and technical education. “This recognition simply validates how the training center’s accomplishments have set the benchmark for education and training excellence,” Schaal said. Additionally, COE accreditation puts the command on a pathway to obtain accreditation from the American Council on Education, or ACE.
“What the ACE accreditation does for us is allows us to give college credit to those students who attend our courses,” Wilhite said. “If they attend a 40-hour course, they can get a one-hour credit for an elective or something geared toward a possible degree in safety, occupational health or environmental management.”
Not only will the ACE accreditation be integral in raising the overall safety knowledge level of the Navy and Marine Corps, but it will also help build the safety culture throughout the naval enterprise, Wilhite added.
Schaal further explained that “ACE accreditation will facilitate our ability to promote the safety and occupational health, industrial hygiene, environmental protection and emergency management fields to create more professionals and address shortages in qualified workers by building excitement for the profession.”  
NAVSAFENVTRACEN is aiming to receive ACE accreditation in the fall of 2024.
NAVSAFENVTRACEN provides quality education and training for military and civilian Navy and Marine Corps personnel, both afloat and ashore, in the areas of safety and occupational health, industrial hygiene, environmental protection and emergency management.
The quotas for FY24 will become available through eNTRS on October 4. For quota reservations, log into eNTRS at, navigate to the Request Menu, input the course CDP, update the dates, submit, verify the course date, enter the student’s DOD ID, submit, add student information, double-check email accuracy and select “process request.”