Wheelhouse Weekly – Apr. 14, 2015

April 15th 2015

Volume 19 . . . Number 15 . . . April 14, 2015


In this issue:


News for Union Members:

Other News:


Did you miss a week? Back editions of the Wheelhouse Weekly are available in the archives section.


Congressman John Garamendi (D-Calif.) plans to introduce bipartisan legislation that would require U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to travel on American-built ships crewed by American mariners. The congressman, a staunch advocate for the U.S.-flag fleet, says thousands of maritime jobs would result from an LNG export strategy based on American carriers, the construction of which in turn could revitalize U.S. shipbuilding and strengthen national security.

“What if we recognized that the export of liquefied natural gas, when and where deemed appropriate, provides us with a unique opportunity to rebuild the American shipbuilding industry and strengthen our merchant marine?” Garamendi asked.

“We have an opportunity to make sure that a very significant part of the American economy has an opportunity to blossom and grow—not just the shipyards—but the entire supply chain: electronics, engines, and more,” he added.

“When we export LNG, we need to make sure that the export of this natural asset is being conducted by American sailors on American ships. In doing so, we will revitalize America’s shipbuilding industry in a big way.”

Garamendi is the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. He made the remarks in a speech at a maritime conference on April 9. Garamendi also seized the opportunity to defend the Jones Act and underline the essential role of American mariners in our country’s economy and national defense.

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Nautilus International is calling for the United Kingdom to lead a “new and concerted drive to end the appalling litany” of seafarer fatalities in enclosed spaces. The union wrote to UK Shipping Minister John Hayes following the latest incident, in which two seafarers died March 13 in a cargo hold of the Carisbrooke Shipping general cargo vessel SALLY ANN C. Nautilus represents British, Dutch and Swiss maritime officers.

Investigations into the incident—which took place off the coast of Senegal—are underway. What is known at this point is that the chief officer and chief engineer died after entering a hold where timber was stowed and the second officer had to be rescued after losing consciousness when he went to the aid of his colleagues.

In a letter to the minister, Nautilus General Secretary Mark Dickinson said the case followed a “very familiar pattern of one crew member collapsing in an oxygen-deficient area, and two more being overcome after entering the space without personal protective equipment in an attempt to rescue their colleagues.”

Dickinson said there is evidence to show that more seafarers die or are injured in enclosed spaces than through any other onboard work activity. “Changes in ship design and operation, the nature of cargoes, the increasing amounts of chemicals being carried, along with reduced manning levels and radical changes in crewing practices are all factors which have driven the increase in such incidents,” he says. Simply continuing to warn seafarers of the dangers “is clearly not sufficient,” Dickinson says.

Nautilus says mandatory training requirements are needed and IMO rules should also ensure that all ships are equipped with oxygen meters to ensure crew can test the atmosphere in enclosed spaces. “We believe that requirements for oxygen meters to be positioned at the entrance to enclosed spaces would reinforce to seafarers the potential risks that they face, as well as providing ready access to information about the state of such spaces.”

The union also wants specific risk assessments for hazards applicable to each and every individual enclosed space. “The tragic accidents in enclosed spaces have resulted in a spate of investigation reports and resulting recommendations, as well as a steady flow of material to reinforce the precautions that should be taken,” Dickinson says. “However, the continued death toll should surely tell us that something is wrong with this approach. We cannot afford to continue witnessing the shocking scale of fatalities that currently blight the industry.”

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Merchant mariners rescued about 40,000 refugees in the Mediterranean in 2014 and the situation is expected to worsen dramatically this year as a consequence of war and economic hardship in the Middle East and Africa. The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) has joined unions and ship operators in sounding the alarm with a joint letter to all 28 European Union member states, urging them to take “immediate collective action to address the growing humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean Sea.”

Last year more than 3,500 refugees died while attempting to make the dangerous crossing. In a joint letter to leaders of all 28 EU Members States, the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA), the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the ITF have warned that the crisis is spiraling out of control. They warn there is a serious risk of further catastrophic loss of life unless EU Member States respond with greater urgency, increasing resources for Search and Rescue operations. The group said the situation, with numerous, potentially dangerous rescues being conducted by merchant mariners “is becoming untenable.”

“The shipping industry fully accepts its legal responsibility to rescue anyone in distress at sea,” they wrote “but it is unacceptable that the international community is increasingly relying on merchant ships and their crews to undertake more and more large-scale rescues. Single ships have had to rescue as many as 500 people at a time, creating serious risks to the health and welfare of seafarers who should not be expected to deal which such situations.”

The group said that although the navies and coast guards of coastal states have been doing their best to respond, all EU Member States need to share in the financial burden so as to prevent thousands more deaths. They also called on the international community to help people find safety on land so they would not feel the need to risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean in unseaworthy boats. The unions and shipowners’ representatives have asked that the issue be added “as a matter of real urgency,” to the agenda of the European Council and relevant meetings of EU Ministers.

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The Military Sealift Command Hospital ship USNS COMFORT has departed Norfolk on a six-month mission that will take it to Barbados, Belize, Colombia, the Commonwealth of Dominica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Panama. The Licensed Deck Officers at the conn of the giant hospital ship are represented by the Masters, Mates & Pilots.

The COMFORT will carry over 1000 U.S. Navy, partner nation and non-governmental agency personnel to each country.

The mission, Operation Continuing Promise 2015, will run through October. It is focused on humanitarian-civil assistance, expert exchanges, medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support, and disaster response preparedness. “As in previous years’ missions, the goal is to increase unity, security and stability by fostering strong partnerships and working as a team to improve the lives of thousands of men, women and children from these countries,” said Rear Adm. George Ballance, commander, U.S.Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet. “Working alongside local government officials and medical professionals from each of the host nations as well as volunteers from non-governmental agencies, our teams will work to meet the day-to-day needs of communities and prepare to respond together in disaster relief.”

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In the four years since the United States and Colombia signed the Labor Action Plan—a precursor to the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement—105 Colombian union organizers have been murdered. Another 1,337 have been threatened with death and almost 2,000 others have been attacked or subjected to threats of violence. The statistics were published by Colombia’s National Union School, the Escuela Nacional Sindical.

“It is evident that the campaign of intimidation against Colombia’s workers struggling to defend their rights continues unabated,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. He said the report demonstrates “that there has been virtually no progress over the past year in compliance with the U.S.-Colombia Labor Action Plan,” which was supposed to address anti-worker violence to defuse criticism of the free trade agreement.

The latest statistics on the number of murders of Colombian union members and organizers comes as the Obama Administration is seeking “fast track” authority from Congress to push through several other international trade pacts that are being criticized by labor unions for a lack of worker protections and labor rights enforcement measures.

Colombia has long been recognized as one of the deadliest and most dangerous countries for trade unionists. Along with the violence aimed at unionists, the report notes that there are countless instances of retaliation against workers organizing unions that go unreported and unaddressed by Colombian authorities, including illegal firings, non-renewal of worker contracts and daily harassment. In the ENS’s assessment of Colombia’s compliance with the LAP, it categorically assigns a failing grade in almost every measure included in the agreement.

“As the U.S. government negotiates broad trade agreements with Europe and the Pacific Rim, it must look back at the LAP’s continued failure to protect workers’ rights in Colombia and not commit the same mistakes,” Trumka said. “It must ensure that these agreements deliver on the promises made for over 20 years about the broader benefits of expanding trade. Investors and companies have received these benefits. Workers in the U.S. and countries that are our trading partners have not.”

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MM&P Atlantic Ports Vice President Don Josberger has scheduled a membership meeting at the Norfolk Hall on Thursday, April 16 at 1000. MM&P President Don Marcus and Secretary-Treasurer Steve Werse will participate in the meeting. All members in the area are encouraged to attend.

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The fishing vessel THUNDER, which had been tracked by the authorities of several nations as well as by conservationists, sank last week with no loss of life. The entire crew of 40 were able to abandon ship via life rafts and were picked up by conservationists aboard vessels that belong to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The vessel had previously been identified by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) as one that has engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities that undermine the effectiveness of conservation measures and threaten toothfish stocks, marine habitats and by-catch species in the Southern Ocean. Toothfish is a prized sea catch, more commonly known as Chilean Sea Bass.

Conservations say the vessel had been involved in illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean for years. It has been pursued in recent months by Sea Shepherd ships BOB BARKER and SAM SIMON, who witnessed the sinking. The chief engineer of the BOB BARKER said the captain had opened all doors, hatches and the fishhold before the sinking, a sign that the vessel was probably intentionally scuttled.

On Christmas day last year, SAM SIMON commenced retrieval operations to remove the illegal fishing gear abandoned by the THUNDER when it first fled from the BOB BARKER. More than 72 kilometers of illegal gillnet was recovered over a three-week period and over 1,400 fish, weighing a total of 45,000 kilograms, were returned to the ocean.

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MITAGS needs your current address! Have you moved recently? Did you remember to send MITAGS your new address for communications regarding courses? Please send your current contact information to or to the fax number below.

New dedicated fax line for Admissions only: 1-443-568-1928. For all other MITAGS business, please continue to use: 410-859-5181.

For class availability or information on MITAGS courses and programs, contact Kelly Michielli, Admissions Coordinator, toll-free at 866-656-5568 or by e-mail: . Why not try our on-line calendar to register for class:

Please note the special addition to our on-campus schedule of MSC classes marked with an asterisk (*), which are not normally scheduled to be held at MITAGS.

AB – 8/17/15, 10/12/15

AIS-1 – Automatic Identifications Systems Orientation: 6/19/15, 7/13/15

ARPA-OIC – Automated Radar Plotting Aids: 8/4/15, 9/22/15

AZIPOD 2-Day – 10/1/15

BRM-35 – Bridge Resource Management: 5/18/15, 8/3/15, 10/19/15

BRMP –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 6/17/15, 7/16/15, 11/9/15

BRMP-EMR –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots with Emergency Shiphandling: 9/28/15

BT – Basic Safety Training: 6/8/15, 8/10/15, 10/5/15

BT-Revalidation – 8/4/15, 11/3/15

CHS-OIC – Cargo Handling Basic: 10/26/15

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

ADVNAV-CMM – Advanced Navigation (=ECDIS & VPEN):

ADVSTB-CMM – Advanced Stability: 4/20/15, 6/15/15, 7/27/15, 9/28/15

ADVWX-CMM – Advanced Meteorology: 6/1/15, 8/3/15, 10/19/15

CHS-CMM – Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 4/27/15, 10/5/15

ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display Information System: 6/8/15, 8/17/15, 11/2/15, 12/7/15

LMS – Leadership and Managerial Skills (Management Level – Formerly MCL-CMM): 4/20/15, 5/11/15, 6/22/15, 7/13/15,8/10/15, 8/31/15, 9/28/15, 10/26/15, 11/16/15, 11/30/15

MPP-CMM – Marine Propulsion Plants: 11/16/15

SHMGT-CMM- Ship Management (2 weeks): 9/14/15

SHS-ADV-I-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 5/4/15, 6/1/15, 7/13/15, 8/10/15, 8/24/15, 10/5/15, 11/9/15, 11/30/15

SHS-ADV-II-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 4/20/15, 5/11/15, 6/8/15, 7/20/15, 8/17/15, 8/31/15, 10/12/15,11/16/15, 12/7/15

VPEN-CMM – Voyage Planning & Electronic Navigation: Contact Admissions

WKP-CMM – Advanced Watchkeeping: 5/11/15, 11/9/15

CNAV-OIC – Celestial Navigation: 4/27/15, 11/9/15

CONT PLNG – Contingency Planning Workshop: Contact Admissions

CRISIS-COMMS – Crisis Communications: 7/9/15

DDE – Great Lakes: 5/27/15

DPA – Contact Admissions

ECDIS-OIC – Contact Admissions

ECDIS-Pilots – 6/15/15, 7/14/15, 11/12/15

ERM – Engine Resource Management: 5/4/15, 6/15/15, 7/20/15, 8/24/15, 9/21/15, 10/19/15, 11/9/15, 12/14/15

FF-BADV – Fire Fighting Combined Basic & Advanced: 8/10/15, 10/5/15

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep, & Medications: 7/6/15, 9/15/15, 11/11/15

GL Pilot – Great Lakes Pilotage Familiarization: Contact Admissions

GMDSS – Global Maritime Distress and Safety System: 8/24/15

HAZ – Hazardous Materials (5 day): 6/22/15, 8/31/15, 11/16/15

LAP- 9/14/15

LAP-Great Lakes – License Advancement Program – Great Lakes: Contact Admissions

LAP-ORG3rd – License Advancement Program for Original 3rd Mate, Oceans, Any Gross
Ton License: 6/1/15, 8/3/15, 11/30/15

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 4/15/15, 6/17/15, 7/16/15, 9/16/15, 11/10/15

LNG-TPIC – 12/7/15

LTS –Leadership and Teamworking Skills (Formerly MCL-OIC): 9/21/15

MEECE – Management of Electrical and Electronic Control: 4/27/15, 6/8/15, 7/6/15, 8/17/15, 9/14/15, 10/12/15, 11/2/15, 12/7/15

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge: 4/20/15, 6/15/15, 8/24/15, 12/7/15

MED-PIC-REF– Medical Person in Charge Refresher: 5/11/15, 7/27/15, 9/28/15

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 4/20/15, 6/15/15, 8/24/15, 10/12/15, 12/7/15

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing: 4/25/15, 6/20/15, 7/25/15, 8/28/15, 11/5/15, 12/12/15

MSA –Maritime Security Awareness: Contact Admissions

[MSC – Military Sealift Command Courses]

MSC-CBRD-1 – Military Sealift Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense Orientation (Basic): 6/5/15, 8/19/15, 10/29/15

MSC-DC – Military Sealift Command Damage Control (4 Evenings): 6/2/15, 8/17/15, 10/27/15

*MSC-ENVPRO – 6/6/15, 8/16/15, 10/31/15

*MSC-FF-HELO – 6/9/15, 8/3/15, 11/2/15

MSC-SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualification: 5/26/15, 8/8/15, 10/19/15

*MSC-Security Watch Basic – 5/30/15, 8/6/15, 10/17/15

*MSC-Security Watch Advanced –6/1/15, 8/12/15, 10/23/15

*MSC-Ship’s Reaction Force – 6/2/15, 8/13/15, 10/24/15

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 8/3/15, 9/21/15

ROR-1N – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 4/15/15, 4/29/15, 5/6/15, 5/13/15, 6/3/15, 6/10/15, 6/17/15, 7/8/15, 7/22/15, 8/5/15, 8/19/15, 9/2/15, 9/16/15, 9/30/15, 10/14/15, 10/28/15, 11/3/15, 11/11/15, 11/18/15, 12/2/15, 12/10/15

ROU-OIC – Radar Observer Program – Unlimited: 6/1/15, 7/27/15

SAR-OIC – Search & Rescue – 10/19/15

SHS-BAS-OIC – Basic Shiphandling: 5/11/15, 6/22/15, 11/2/15

SHS-EMR5 – Emergency Shiphandling-5 Day: 4/27/15, 7/27/15, 9/28/15

SMS – Contact Admissions

STB-OIC – Ship Construction and Basic Stability: 8/3/15

TCNAV/CO – Terrestrial Navigation and Compasses: 7/6/15

TPIC – Tankerman Person in Charge: 8/3/15

TRAC-TUG-2: Contact Admissions

TTT – Contact Admissions

VPDSD – Vessel Personnel with Designated Security Duties: 5/21/15

VSO – Vessel Security Officer: 4/18/15, 5/18/15, 7/22/15, 9/9/15, 10/7/15, 10/17/15

WKP-OIC – Watchkeeping (Operational Level): 9/28/15

WX-OIC –Meteorology (Operational Level): 9/14/15

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Please also see our schedule and enroll online at For registration contact our registrar, Jennifer Pitzen: 206.838.1126 or

April 2015

20-24 Leadership and Managerial Skills
27-29 Security – Vessel, Company, and Facility
27-1 Bridge Resource Management

May 2015

4-8 Train the Trainer
4-8 Leadership and Managerial Skills
4-15 GMDSS
11-15 Leadership and Managerial Skills
11-15 Medical Care Provider
18-22 Leadership and Managerial Skills
26th Radar Renewal
27-29 Bridge Resource Management and Emergency Shiphandling for Pilots

June 2015

1-3 Security – Vessel, Company, and Facility
1-5 Medical Care Provider
1-12 Medical Person-In-Charge
8-12 Leadership and Managerial Skills
15-19 ECDIS
15-19 Tankerman Person-In-Charge
22-26 Leadership and Managerial Skills
22-26 Basic Meteorology
29-3 Leadership and Managerial Skills

July 2015

6-24 Terrestrial and Coastal Navigation
13-17 Leadership and Managerial Skills
13-24 GMDSS
20-23 ARPA
27-31 Radar Observer Unlimited

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The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly is the official electronic newsletter of the International Organization of Masters, Mates, & Pilots, ILA, AFL-CIO, 700 Maritime Blvd. Suite B, Linthicum Heights, MD 21090-1953. Phone: 410-850-8700; Fax: 410-850-0973. All rights reserved. The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly © 2015. Articles can be reprinted without prior permission if credit is given to The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly. For new subscriptions or address changes, send an e-mail to Back issues of The Weekly are posted on