NEWS | Aug. 10, 2021

NAVSAFENVTRACEN Holds Change of Command

By Leslie Tomaino, Naval Safety Center Safety Promotions

Cmdr. Charles Wilhite assumed the helm of the Naval Safety and Environmental Training Center (NAVSAFENVTRACEN) during a change of command ceremony here July 30, relieving Cmdr. Cary Isaacson. Guest speaker Rear Adm. F.R. Luchtman, Commander, Naval Safety Center (NAVSAFECEN), lauded Isaacson on his accomplishments as NAVSAFENVTRACEN’s commanding officer.

“Cmdr. Isaacson has done a tremendous job in ensuring every Sailor and Marine was superbly trained mentally, physically fit and prepared to meet the heavy demands of the training center course schedule,” said Luchtman. “He and his team have contributed vastly to an improved safety culture and safety environment within our Navy and Marine Corps. When you look at the accomplishments over the last few years, it becomes readily apparent.”

Isaacson credited his staff for their efforts ensuring the fleet’s training needs were being met despite the challenges faced.

“This staff’s dedicated efforts have allowed the fleet to continually receive the occupational health, industrial hygiene and environmental training during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Isaacson. “The staff hosted the 29th Annual Joint Safety and Environmental Professional Development Symposium in an online platform as they have in years’ past, but this particular conference far exceeded all previous attendance records. With the pandemic, there was an inability for personnel to attend resident training and in-person conferences, making the symposium more important than ever.”

Wilhite said he knows he has big shoes to fill and he is excited to get going. Wilhite commended his predecessor, who has been selected for promotion to Captain, and his team for how quickly they were able to shift and adjust with COVID restrictions and convert over 21 resident courses into virtual online classes. “The virus changed the way we do business as a Navy; if the mission was going to continue, we had to be aggressive and find the way ahead,” said Wilhite. “We had to pivot extremely quickly, be innovative, embrace new technologies and we at the training center will continue to do so to meet the fleet’s needs.”

Wilhite enlisted in the Navy in 1993 and completed Hospital Corpsman (HM) “A” School and Preventative Medicine Technician “C” School, earning honors and distinction in both. As an HM2, Wilhite was selected for the Navy Health Services Collegiate Program (HSCP). Upon completing HSCP, Wilhite was commissioned an Ensign industrial hygiene officer. Across his career, he served aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), Navy Environmental Preventative Medicine Unit No. (NEPMU) 2, Naval Hospital Okinawa, USS Enterprise (CVN 65), USS Emory S. Land (AS 39), President, Board of Inspection and Survey, NEPMU-6, Navy Personnel Command and most recently served as officer in charge of NEPMU-6, Pearl Harbor.

Wilhite received his Master of Science in Public Health from the University of South Florida in 2007. Here, he completed hand-arm vibration research specific to Sailors operating pneumatic tools; the results were referenced for Department of Defense personal protective equipment selection and policy. Wilhite said he hopes to draw from his experiences as an enlisted Sailor and officer and previous assignments in his new role as commanding officer.

The NAVSAFENVTRACEN, a tenant command under NAVSAFECEN, provides education and training for military and civilian Navy and Marine Corps personnel, both afloat and ashore. The training center provides training in areas of occupational safety, industrial hygiene, environmental protection and emergency management. The center’s efforts lead to enhanced operational readiness, safe and healthier workplaces, stewardship through compliance with applicable regulations, reduced worker’s compensation costs and mission efficiency.