Wheelhouse Weekly – Apr. 21, 2015

April 22nd 2015

Volume 19 . . . Number 16 . . . April 21, 2015


In this issue:

Patriot Contract Vessel Training Notice:

More Confined Space Fatalities:

Make Your Voice Heard:


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


The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT and guided-missile cruiser USS NORMANDY are moving toward Yemen. They will join seven other U.S. ships already in the region. According to a Pentagon statement, the additional ships have been sent to ensure that vital shipping lanes in the region remain safe and open.

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An estimated 850 people died Sunday in a shipwreck 70 miles off the coast of Libya. More than 17 vessels led by the Italian Coast Guard, including several merchant ships, aided in the search. Twenty-eight people survived. Most of the survivors, along with the Tunisian captain and a Syrian crew member, were taken to Catania, Sicily, aboard the Italian coast guard ship GREGORETTI. Both men were arrested under suspicion of multiple homicides. The smugglers’ vessel reportedly capsized when passengers rushed to one side as it sailed towards the Portuguese-flag cargo ship KING JACOB.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), maritime unions and ship operators are urging the European Union (EU) to take immediate action to address the growing humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean Sea. They warn of further catastrophic loss of life unless EU member states respond with greater urgency. An estimated 1 million migrants are said to be bottlenecked in Libya, waiting for the chance to depart.

“The shipping industry fully accepts its legal responsibility to rescue anyone in distress at sea, but argues it is unacceptable that the international community is increasingly relying on merchant ships and their crews to undertake more and more large-scale rescues,” they wrote. “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 with such situations.” Last year approximately 40,000 people were rescued by merchant ships in the Mediterranean.

EU foreign ministers gathered in Luxemburg Monday for an emergency meeting to address the situation and announced a 10-point proposal to shore up the refugee management system, including an effort to seize and destroy ships used by traffickers. Officials could not specify when the new measures would be put into place.

Meanwhile, Monday brought more rescues. An Italian coast guard official said 638 migrants were rescued when Italy and Malta responded to additional vessels in distress off the coast of Libya. A spokesperson for the Greek coast guard said at least three people died when a boat from Turkey carrying 90 people ran aground off the Greek island of Rhodes.

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America’s mariners “have answered our nation’s call time and time again,” said Rear Adm. Thomas K. Shannon, commander of Military Sealift Command, in an April 13 speech to the New York Marine Society. “America does not go to war without MARAD, MSC and our commercial industry partners,” he added. Shannon made the remarks during the society’s annual awards dinner, at which he was the honoree. “This is probably the greatest honor I have been afforded in my Navy career,” he said.

Shannon took the opportunity to underline the Navy’s support for the programs and policies that serve to maintain the American Merchant Marine. “I want to make this perfectly clear,” he said. “The U.S. Navy supports the Jones Act and full funding–even more funding–for the Maritime Security Program.”

The event was attended by numerous MM&P members and officials, including President Don Marcus, Secretary-Treasurer Steve Werse, Atlantic Ports Vice President Don Josberger and National Director of Collective Bargaining J. Lars Turner.

MSC “is now the largest employer of mariners” in the United States, Shannon said. He said he wished that the situation were otherwise, and that there were more U.S.-flag shipping companies operating to carry our nation’s cargo and employ American mariners. He gave a shout out to Civil Service mariners aboard all the MSC ships, with special mention to those aboard USNS hospital ships COMFORT and MERCY, and JHSV SPEARHEAD. “It’s our mariners who are doing this work: it’s on their backs,” he said.

“MM&P Civil Service mariners take great pride in assuming responsibility for, in the words of Adm. Shannon, being the U.S. military’s ‘equipment manager’,” said MM&P President Don Marcus. “We appreciate Adm. Shannon’s support for the U.S.-Flag Merchant Marine and his acknowledgement of the load that these men and women carry on behalf of our nation. The active, personal involvement of the Admiral in resolving the myriad complex issues they face on a daily basis will go a long way towards helping to ensure their backs do not grow weary in the future.”

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Leaders of the military, Congress and the maritime industry participated April 14 in the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space Exposition, designed to bring the U.S. defense industrial base, private-sector companies and key military decision makers together. The discussion, hosted by U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen, was titled “Framework for the Future: National Maritime Strategy.”

Participants included Reps. Joe Courtney (Conn.) and John Garamendi (Calif.), Crowley Maritime Corporation CEO Tom Crowley and Gen. Paul J. Selva, commander, U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM), U.S. Air Force. The goal of the organizers was to increase awareness of the role of the American Merchant Marine in America’s economy and national defense, and to develop strategies to stop the shrinking of the country’s fleet.

Jaenichen said the “serious decline” in the size of the U.S.-flag fleet is limiting America’s ability to project power on the national scene. Selva–who as head of TRANSCOM oversees a network of aircraft, ships, vehicles and trains that move weapons and equipment for the military–took the opportunity to voice his support for America’s cabotage law, which is increasingly coming under attack by foreign shipping interests and those in Congress who support them. “I am an ardent supporter of the Jones Act,” Selva said. “[It] supports a viable shipbuilding industry, cuts cost and produces 2,500 qualified mariners. Why would we tamper with that?”

“When we get to the issue of national sovereignty [and] the capacity to use the defense capabilities of the nation to impose our will as necessary on an enemy, that demands that we have access to a viable pool of merchant mariners who can crew those ships, who will make us successful,” he added.

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MM&P has expressed full support for a budget plan that would add a highly sophisticated new survey vessel to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) fleet. MM&P masters and mates sail aboard NOAA ships. President Obama’s FY2016 Budget includes construction funding for a new survey vessel that the union believes is critical to NOAA’s ability to perform its missions in support of the maritime industry. “A new generation of NOAA survey vessels is greatly needed and would evidence the United States’ continued commitment as a true maritime nation,” said MM&P Federal Employees Membership Group Vice President Randall Rockwood.

NOAA’s fleet of ships and aircraft is managed by the NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO), which is made up of civilians, mariners and officers of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps, one of the seven uniformed U.S. services. OMAO civilian employees and NOAA Corps officers operate and manage the agency’s active fleet of 16 research and survey ships and nine specialized aircraft. Together OMAO and the NOAA Corps support nearly all of NOAA’s missions.

The Administration has requested $147 million for the construction of a new Ocean Survey Vessel (OSV) to sustain fleet capacity and expertise. Without an investment, the NOAA fleet will decline by 50 percent from 16 to eight active ships between FY 2016 and FY 2028.

The OSV would be capable of integrated oceanographic research in coastal and deep ocean areas. It would be a multi-use platform with the capacity to conduct a range of surveys. The vessel would have a more extensive array of functions and capabilities than other ships in the NOAA fleet. Besides mapping the ocean floor to update nautical charts, it could also operate in areas that include: ecosystem-based management in support of the National Marine Fisheries Service; oceanographic and climate research; and servicing weather and climate buoys.

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Key congressional leaders agreed April 16 on legislation to give President Obama authority to finish negotiating one of the world’s largest trade accords, opening a battle that aligns the president with Republicans against a broad coalition of Democrats, labor unions and environmental groups. The “fast track” bill allowing the White House to pursue its planned Pacific trade deal also heralds a fight within the Democratic Party. Opponents of the pact argue that past trade deals have failed to deliver on their promise and that the latest effort would harm American workers.

Last Thursday’s deal would give Congress the power to vote on the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership once it is completed, but would deny lawmakers the chance to amend what would be the largest trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994, which President Bill Clinton pushed through Congress despite opposition from labor and other Democratic constituencies. Although details of the pact have been kept secret, it has emerged that the clearest winners would be American agriculture, along with technology and pharmaceutical companies, insurers and many large manufacturers.

The bill as passed last week would make any final trade agreement open to public comment for 60 days before the president signs it, and up to four months before Congress votes. If the agreement negotiated by the U.S. trade representative fails to meet the objectives laid out by Congress, a 60-vote majority in the Senate could shut off “fast-track” trade rules and open the deal to amendment. Even with the concessions, many Democrats appear determined to oppose the president. Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, condemned the bill as “a major step backward.”

The AFL-CIO and its member unions have vowed a no-holds-barred attempt to stop the pact, on the grounds that it will cost jobs and depress wages. “We can’t afford to pass fast track, which would lead to more lost jobs and lower wages,” said Richard Trumka, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. “We want Congress to keep its leverage over trade negotiations–not rubber-stamp a deal that delivers profits for global corporations but not good jobs for working people.”

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The MSC vessels operated by Patriot Contract Services (PCS) have extensive Military Sealift Command-mandated original and refresher training requirements (in addition to PCS company and STCW requirements). To ensure a pool of qualified officers, MITAGS has established the following priority for the MITAGS MSC courses. These policies are retroactive to Jan. 1, 2015.

1. Management-level officers who are permanent employees or so designated by PCS.

2. Operational officers who have previously sailed for PCS and have been asked to return or who have been so designated by PCS.

3. Officers who have not worked for PCS but who have submitted the necessary paperwork to MM&P Government Crewing Coordinator Robert Chiesa in order to be considered for employment on the MSC contract vessels.

4. Officers who have an interest in taking some or all of the MSC courses.

MM&P members in the third or fourth tier of priority will be enrolled as “standby” students until approximately two weeks prior to the start of the course. If space is still available, they will be enrolled in the course so that they will still have time to make the 14-day advance fare plane reservations.

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Three dockworkers died April 11 after inhaling toxic gases while unloading coal from a carrier at the port of Antwerp. The accident occurred when the three entered the hold of the Hong Kong-flagged SAGA FRONTIER, owned by Saga Carrier, to clear away coal residue.

The deaths come on the heels of a call for action on confined space risks by the maritime officers’ union Nautilus. The union, which represents British, Dutch and Swiss officers, says current safety efforts in the area of confined space are “clearly insufficient” given “the continued litany of fatalities.” The union wants oxygen meters outside each shipboard confined space, among other precautionary measures. It says “education and warnings are not enough.”

“We can never relax on port safety and accident prevention,” said International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) President and Dockers’ Section Chair Paddy Crumlin in expressing condolences to the families of the three dockworkers. “Antwerp is a port where health and safety are taken very seriously, and, like the three men’s trade unions, we are confident that a full investigation will take place into what happened and how any resulting lessons can be implemented.”

“Dock work is dangerous work and everyone involved must always do everything possible to minimize the risks,” he concluded. “This is a timely reminder of the importance of Workers’ Memorial Day April 28, the message of which is ‘Remember the dead, fight like hell for the living’.”

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More than 300 labor union members and officials are being prosecuted in Spain under a law that dates from the middle of the last century when the country was ruled by the Fascist dictator Francisco Franco. Dozens of them have already been convicted and given lengthy prison sentences. The main legal basis for the cases against the trade unionists is Article 315.3 of the Penal Code, an article drawn directly from infamous anti-union legislation introduced under the Franco Regime.

Leaders and members of national unions are demanding the law be repealed. The Paris-based International Committee Against Repression (CICR), of which the AFL-CIO is a member, is calling on Spain to drop the proceedings against union members and respect the right to strike and all the Conventions of the International Labor Organization that Spain has ratified.

To join the campaign, send an e-mail to: addressed to: Ambassador Ramón Gil Casares Satrústegui, Embassy of Spain in the United States, 2375 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20037.

The letter should call upon the ambassador to relay to his government in Madrid the urgent appeal that all charges leveled by the Spanish authorities against eight Airbus trade unionists be dropped immediately. It should also ask that all charges be dropped against 300 other trade unionists charged with organizing informational picket lines during recent strikes and that Spain repeal Article 315.3 of the Penal Code, which provides for prison sentences for trade unionists who take part in informational pickets during a strike. Please add your name, your union if applicable, your city and state.

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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: 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): 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): 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: 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: 6/15/15, 8/24/15, 12/7/15

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

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 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: 4/29/15, 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: 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

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