News

Wheelhouse Weekly – May 19, 2000


MASTER AND MMP MEMBERS ABOARD AND INTERESTED PERSONS THE MASTERS, MATES AND PILOTS’ — WHEELHOUSE WEEKLY

Bridging the Information Gap With E-News You Can Use

VOLUME 4. . . . . NUMBER 20 . . . May 19, 2000

STORIES COVERED



MM&P OFFSHORE-A&G TEAMS CINCH CONTRACTS WITH MAJOR IMPROVEMENTS

Cooperative efforts between the MM&P’s Offshore Membership Group and the Atlantic & Gulf Maritime Region Membership Group have resulted in the signing of two significant harbor towboat contracts.

San Juan:

Last week, a 5-year contract was signed and ratified by A&G members with McAllister Towing of Puerto Rico. The contract, which has an effective date of June 1, 2000, calls for significant operational and work rule changes which will result in MM&P San Juan boat Captains and other MM&P boat personnel achieving an approximate 28% annual increase, with increases due each year of the contract. The agreement includes guarantees covering pension and health care escalators. Rank-and-file members involved in achieving this successful contract are Rafael Mendez, Rafael Mendez, Jr. and Pedro Ocasio.

Jacksonville:

A new 3-year agreement has been signed and ratified by A&G members with Moran Towing of Florida. This contract, effective retroactive to May 1, 2000, calls for increases of 9% to 16%, improvement in vacation bonus computation, year-end bonus, and conclusion of watch pay during the 3-year term and participation in the IRAP plan for all members. MM&P rank-and-filers Robert Hill, Tommie Lane and Allen Swafford participated on the MM&P negotiating team.

Special thanks to those members from both groups, whose dedication achieved these major contract improvements.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


PMR INKS AGREEMENT WITH NEW EMPLOYER

Sound Freight Lines is the newest company to sign a contract with the MM&P’s Pacific Maritime Region Membership Group. This first multi-year contract was voted up unanimously by the MM&P-PMR members working at Sound Freight Lines. Sound Freight Lines operates towing vessels engaged in covered barging operations throughout the Puget Sound and British Columbia tributaries.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


RRF CONTRACT UPDATE

A third MM&P-contracted employer has this week filed a protest with the GAO regarding the recently announced MARAD RRF contract awards. Pending the outcome of these protests, additional legal action may follow.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


SUIT EXPLORES A CAPTAIN’S LIABILITY FOR A DEATH AT SEA

The Washington Post reports that a case before the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, is the first in recent memory to explore whether Maryland law holds a boat captain legally responsible for failing to rescue a drowning passenger. That question has fueled a debate over which laws to apply: state law or federal maritime law.

According to the Post article, late on a black, moonless night in 1996, while heading back to the marina after several hours of heavy eating and drinking at an Annapolis-area crab house, a 37-year old female passenger pitched over the side of a friend’s 38-foot powerboat, splashed fully clothed into the choppy waters of the Chesapeake Bay and began to drown.

In the rescue effort that followed, chaos reigned. The skipper had left the boat’s helm to go for a swim. By the time the woman started screaming for help, the captain had drifted so far from the boat that he needed rescuing himself. (It was not made clear if the boat was adrift or anchored.)

Another passenger dived in after the woman, grabbed her by the hair and tried to swim to safety, but couldn’t get a grip on the bobbing boat’s slippery fiberglass hull and finally had to let her go. The remaining passenger onboard tried to turn the boat back to the drowning woman, but couldn’t find her. By the time he called 911 on a cell phone to summon the USCG, she had vanished into the murky 78-degree water.

Now, that dreadful night has become the focus of a $1.5 million wrongful-death lawsuit, which argues that under the oldest laws of the sea, the vessel’s captain bears ultimate responsibility for the woman’s death.

“We believe that when a boat owner invites a guest onto his boat and has not properly provided the equipment for the safety of the passengers, that would be negligent,” said an attorney for the woman’s relatives, who filed the lawsuit and want federal law applied to the case.

The boat’s skipper maintains that he has been unfairly blamed for her death. He has said: “They’re trying to say I was wrong for leaving the helm. If you’re on a boat and you stop the boat, are you honestly expected to stay behind the wheel every minute?”

The woman’s attorney has argued in court that the captain’s decision to leave the helm, in the middle of the night, without anyone else on board who could operate the boat, set in motion the tragic chain of events. Whether the skipper will be held responsible could depend largely on which law the court chooses to apply. Maritime law sets out specific guidelines about a captain’s responsibility for his passengers; state law does not.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


MARAD ADMINISTRATOR MIGHT MOVE TO NEW TRUCKING SLOT

The Journal of Commerce reports that US Maritime Administrator Clyde Hart Jr. may be leaving the agency soon to take the reins at the new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Hart said he and Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater have had several discussions regarding the possibility of a transfer. Slater is expected to announce his decision within a week. Hart, who became maritime administrator in August 1998, said he told Slater that he’s perfectly happy at the maritime agency.

Hart is no stranger to trucking issues. Before joining MarAd, Hart spent four years as Democratic counsel to the Senate Commerce Committee. Earlier, he spent 14 years at the Interstate Commerce Commission, rising through the ranks. His last position at the agency, now known as the Surface Transportation Board, was agency management counsel.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


HOUSE HEARING TO CONSIDER DISPOSAL OPTIONS FOR OBSOLETE VESSELS

The USCG and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing on May 24 to consider options for disposal of obsolete vessels in the Maritime Administration’s National Defense Reserve Fleet. The hearing will commence at 1000 hrs. in Room 2167 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

As previously reported in the Wheelhouse Weekly, at least 40 of the 110 obsolete vessels are known to pose both environmental and navigational hazards and must be scrapped. The subcommittee will investigate the current ban on allowing foreign entities to take part in the bidding process for scrapping of the vessels, as well as, ultimate costs to US taxpayers if the Defense Department undertakes a program to scrap the ships.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


MM&P REPRESENTED AT AMMV AND CAMM NATIONAL MEETINGS

This week, the MM&P was represented at the 14th Annual National Convention of the American Merchant Marine Veterans held in Biloxi, MS. For more info on AMMV, see their website at: http://www.USMM.org/ammv-unity.html.

The MM&P was also represented at the Council of American Master Mariners National Convention also held this week in San Francisco, CA. CAMM is a nationwide professional organization of active and retired ship masters and pilots in the American Merchant Marine. For more info, see their website at: http://www.imex.com/camm.html.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


SS MAYAGUEZ INCIDENT FEATURED ON MERCHANT MARINE WEBSITE

More info on the SS MAYAGUEZ incident (including photos and maps) that occurred 25 years ago this month and was the subject of a Discovery Channel special earlier this week can be found on the USMM website at: http://www.usmm.org/mayaguez.html. All deck officers aboard the SeaLand vessel were MM&P members.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


REPORTS SAY CHINA MIGHT BLOCKADE TAIWAN’S LARGEST PORT

According to the Journal of Commerce, officials in Taiwan’s largest port have shrugged off reports published earlier this week that that China intends to blockade Kaohsiung later this year as a way to force talks on reunification. The threat was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, attributed to US intelligence reports shared with the Australian government.

Kaohsiung is the world’s third-busiest container port and many MM&P-crewed liner vessels call there. The newspaper report said a blockade of Kaohsiung would be fairly easy, given there are only two narrow navigation channels. Submarines could ensure cargo ships were denied access.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


REMINDER: MM&P VOTER ELIGIBILITY AND GOOD STANDING REQUIREMENTS

MM&P members are advised that under the newly-revised MM&P International Constitution, in order to be eligible to vote in upcoming Officer Elections, a member must be in good standing by the close of nominations for office.

Nominations for elective office for the 2000 MM&P Officer Elections close as of the last day of the 2000 MM&P Biennial Convention, scheduled to commence July 10, 2000, and which should conclude on or about July 12, 2000. Members must be in good standing by or before this date in order to be included on the list of eligible voters. To avoid confusion and potential errors, members must have all dues paid and be in Good Standing by June 30, 2000. In all cases, it is advised that members keep a copy of
their current dues receipts.

Election guidelines may be found in the January-February and March-April editions of the “Master, Mate & Pilot” newspaper. They are available at all MM&P offices and on the MM&P website.

Besides nominations for elective office, Constitutional Amendments may also be considered at the Convention. All proposed resolutions must be forwarded to the International Secretary-Treasurer at least 30 days prior to the opening day of the Convention for inclusion on the Agenda.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


REMINDER: MM&P BOSTON HALL TO RELOCATE JUNE 1

The Boston Hall is relocating effective June 1. The new address is: Harbour Pointe East, 80 Everett Avenue, Chelsea, MA 02150. The current phone and fax will work for a period of time after the move. No new phone number has been assigned as of this date.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


UPCOMING MITAGS COURSE OPENINGS

MITAGS has the following course openings:

  • May 22-26: BST
  • June 5-9: MED-PIC, HAZ, HWA
  • June 5-16: GMDSS
  • June 19-23: BST
  • June 19-30: GMDSS
  • June 26-30: FF-ADV, ROP
  • June 25-27: DC (MSC Classes)

PLEASE NOTE: CBRD on May 27, 2000, has been cancelled. Week 022: May 29-June 4 there will be no classes. May 29, MEMORIAL DAY observed.

Contact Mary Matlock at MITAGS admissions at: Email: admissions@mitags.org or phone: 443-989-3226. Information and applications are also available on the MITAGS web site at mitags.org.

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: iommp@bridgedeck.org. For further info contact John Peige at jpeige@bridgedeck.org. 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: http://www.bridgedeck.org.

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