Wheelhouse Weekly – March 10, 2000

March 10th 2000


Bridging the Information Gap With E-News You Can Use

VOLUME 4. . . . . NUMBER 10. . . . . March 10, 2000



As reported in last week’s Wheelhouse Weekly, USCG Rear Adm. Robert North visited MM&P HQ to discuss the ongoing process of reinventing the USCG. Those participating in the lengthy discussion with Adm. North included a number of members and staff representing the various segments of the MM&P. The following is a detailed summary of some of the issues which were raised:

  • Regarding USCG legislative initiatives, clarification was sought on the Coast Guard’s temporary license and Merchant Marine Document (MMD) authority. The MM&P did concur with most of the proposal. However, the Union could not support the proposed exemption of certain crewmembers on passenger vessels from MMD requirements. (Those who are required for lifesaving duties.)
  • The MM&P was not opposed to the proposal which would assign certain license and documentation training evaluation responsibilities to third parties as long as the USCG administered the final license exam. The Union also indicated that it would support a new two level license scheme.
  • The MM&P also did not concur with the proposed change in the administration of examinations. It was pointed out that the evaluation authority would likely need organizational separation from any training institution teaching USCG approved courses. The Union recommended a board of visitors concept with members from several training institutions making up the team.
  • The deterioration of the US Merchant Marine and its impact on strategic sealift was also addressed. The MM&P noted that the shrinking manpower pool is real. Lower level licensed and unlicensed billets are going unfilled. The loss of some older skills required for RRF vessels, when added to the reduced number of mariners required may make a major breakout of reserve vessels difficult or nearly impossible.
  • The MM&P pointed out the need to maintain the standardization of training required by STCW. Without some standardization, the end product cannot be relied upon. Possible risks include the failure of the US in making and maintaining its own “white list” certification. It is the Union’s firm position that all training must be in total compliance with the STCW convention.
  • The definition of a 12-hour workday was also discussed along with a number of very important fatigue issues. With fast turnarounds, extra inspections, and close proximity of ports, mariners are pressured by management to keep the vessel moving even if rest periods are exceeded on a regular basis. The issue of 12 hours of work was also discussed regarding harbor assist and long haul tows.
  • The proposed offshore supply vessel (OSV) licensing scheme was discussed at length. The MM&P does not believe that the USCG should put another level of licensing in place. The Union believes it is better to maintain a standard license with a standard level of training/knowledge for all mariners, who then can display endorsements for their unique skills.
  • It is the MM&P’s belief that special interests at the IMO want to place blame for incidents in pilotage waters on pilots and the competent authority. The Union concurs fully with the concept of the Master/Pilot exchange. Another layer of bureaucracy is not needed to send/receive vessel passage plans and to have the vessel lay down courses in advance of arrival that can be used against the ship if any deviation from the course occurs.
  • The MM&P proposed that the USCG set up regular meetings with training and labor organizations either one-on-one or as a group. The MM&P also advised the USCG to turn away special interests in favor of establishing a cadre of industry personnel from which advice can be sought.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


The Congressional Information Bureau reports that MM&P-contracted CSX Lines, faced with justifying that its SEA-LAND SPIRIT is properly deployed in a service voyaging from Jacksonville to San Juan to Freeport, Bahamas back to Jacksonville, has announced that it will withdraw its ship by the end of March.

The vessel, soon to be named the CSX SPIRIT, was built with the aid of construction differential subsidy (CDS) money which precludes it from operation in the Jones Act trade. The SPIRIT has operated in its current trade since July 1999 without a waiver from the Maritime Administration.

A Nov. 24 request by Kadampanattu Corp. asked that MARAD make an inquiry to CSX to justify that its ship was part of a bona fide foreign voyage and not making a stop in Freeport simply for appearances. The complaint said the ship failed to meet a 25% foreign cargo carriage level which justifies its foreign voyage.

The request was based on the premise that a four hour stop in Freeport could not possibly allow enough time to unload cargo and called the service a violation of Section 506 of the 1936 Merchant Marine Act. Crowley Maritime echoed such sentiments and demanded that MARAD establish criteria to “determine whether a CDS vessel’s foreign call is legitimate or a sham.” MARAD then issued a letter to CSX requesting justification that the service qualified as “bona fide” under Section 506.

In a similar action, Matson Navigation is currently requesting that MARAD approve a Vancouver-Seattle-Oakland-Hawaii itinerary for two CDS-built C-9 vessels.

CSX, by letter dated Feb. 29, stressed that it believes that the SPIRIT’s deployment “is permissible under section 506” but that since the company is disengaging from the service in Bahamas it is withdrawing the vessel and won’t replace it with another.

CSX, on the same day, applied for a waiver with MARAD to operate the SPIRIT to serve in a domestic operation (US mainland to Puerto Rico) in place of the SEA-LAND EXPEDITION while that ship is placed in drydock so that service won’t be interrupted. Such waivers are not uncommon and the request will likely be granted. CSX has stated that it will limit the cargo capacity aboard the much-larger SPIRIT to a level in accordance with the EXPEDITION’s capacity (1400 TEUs).

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


MM&P’s Special Representative Capt. Joe Stone and another MM&P HQ representative attended the National Defense Transportation Association (NDTA) meeting in Wash., DC earlier this week. Agenda items included but were not limited to:

  • Executive Working Group Report: This group oversees the Vessel Intermodal Shipping Agreement (VISA) which incorporates a company’s total intermodal assets, not just the vessel.
  • A manning subcommittee report was discussed. The report was designed to provide an accurate snapshot of the maritime manning pool now and five years in the future. This tasking is made more difficult because of the unknown impact of the STCW on manning after Feb. 2, 2002. However, with the cooperation of all labor unions, USCG, MARAD and others, data is beginning to immerge that discloses a shortfall of some 1100 mariners if a total breakout is required in the year 2005.
  • VADM Albert Herberger, USN,(Ret.) and his sub-committee on Maritime Initiatives, are drawing close to distributing their much awaited report on the status of the US Merchant Marine. The initiatives that will be required to enable the US Merchant Marine to again be a viable and useful tool to the US on the world market place continue to be studied.
  • Cargo Preference was discussed by Military Traffic Management Command (MTMC) and MTMC now displays on their web site which preference cargoes go on US-flag vessels and what amount goes on foreign-flag vessels.
  • RADM Fahy (USN) of TRANSCOM provided insight into the role TRANSCOM plays in projecting lift needs and availability of the lift capacity.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


Beginning Monday, March 13, 2000, MITAGS will host an extensive two-day conference on Maritime Human Factors featuring some of the country’s leading authorities speaking on their areas of expertise. The keynote address will be delivered by Dr. Vern Ellingstad, Director of Research and Engineering, National Transportation Safety Board, Wash, DC.

Complete two-day conference package including conference proceedings, breaks, lunch, receptions, tours and parking is $495.00. One day registration is $300. Lodging is available at MITAGS for $121.00 per night, single; $165.00 per night, double. MM&P member discount: $90.00 single occupancy. All lodging includes breakfast, dinner and use of the MITAGS facility.

For detailed info on the conference content contact Vincent Cantwell at phone: 410-859-5700×3262; Email:; or check the MITAGS website at For registration and lodging info contact Eileen Rucchio at phone: 443-989-3517 or 410-859-5700×3517; Fax: 410-859-0942; or Email: The complete list of conference presentations appeared in last week’s Wheelhouse Weekly and can be found on the MITAGS website.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


Noted admiralty lawyer and philanthropist Capt. James Ackerman, a former MM&P member who also served as an attorney for the MM&P, was recently presented with a model of the proposed American Merchant Marine Memorial Wall recognizing him as a “Platinum Contributor” ($50,000 or more). He is a 1944 graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy. He also volunteers as legal counsel to the AMMVMC. Bill Berger, SUP Wilmington Branch Port Agent also accepted a model of the Wall of Honor on behalf of the SUP which donated $16,600 from the membership. The MM&P was the first Platinum Contributor to the Wall of Honor.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


Completing its epic 20-month around the world journey, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) unique cargoship-turned-floating exhibition ship GLOBAL MARINER arrived back at its home port of London on Feb.16. During the voyage, the GLOBAL MARINER sailed more than 77,000 nautical miles to 86 ports in 51 countries. The first ship to campaign globally for workers’ rights, she attracted 720,000 visitors during her port calls. Many MM&P members and staff manned information displays aboard the vessel and assisted the crew during the ship’s calls on US Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific ports.

ITF General Secretary David Cockroft said the ship’s world tour was successful in raising the profile of the shipping industry and the plight of legitimate flag states which are under constant attack from unscrupulous flag-of-convenience registries. The scourge of FOC regestries was widely reported in the world’s media and drew strong comment from politicians, church and other influential leaders.

Cockroft said that though out the world tour, the GLOBAL MARINER used her public profile to highlight cases of malpractice and abuse. In France, Portugal, Chile, Canada, Russia and Africa the ship encountered abandoned crews. In Panama, Cyprus, Malta and Sri Lanka, the ship was a potent challenge to the authorities to defend their flags.

While original plans called for the ship to be resold into the general commercial market, Cockroft says that the interest stimulated by the tour has generated several interesting ideas for the vessel’s future. He said negotiations are at an advanced stage to convert the ship into a training vessel, retaining her present British registry and name, as there is a new demand for British seafarers generated as a result of that government’s maritime support program.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly

The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly is being produced under MM&P election guidelines which have been previously published and may be found in their entirety on the MM&P website. The Wheelhouse Weekly is the official electronic newsletter of the International Organization of Masters, Mates, and Pilots, ILA, AFL-CIO, 700 Maritime Blvd., Linthicum Heights, MD 21090-1941. Phone: 410-850-8700; Fax: 410-850-0973; Email: For further info contact John Peige at The Wheelhouse Weekly is sent via Email to MM&P-contracted vessels at sea, broadcast worldwide via FEC marine telex and is posted on our web page under “News” at:

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