Wheelhouse Weekly – April 10th, 2018

April 11th 2018

Volume 23… Number 15… April 10, 2018


In This Issue:


Labor News:


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Three ships operated by Maersk Line Ltd. (MLL) have reported loss of GPS signal in the vicinity of Port Said and the Suez Canal over the course of the past two weeks.

MAERSK COLUMBUS experienced loss of GPS signal on March 26 while transiting the Suez Canal northbound.

MAERSK KINLOSS had previously reported loss of GPS signal in Port Said.

On April 6, ALLIANCE FAIRFAX had GPS intermittent interference approaching the Port Said area and had severe jamming just before anchoring.

The incidents occurred on the heels of a U.S. maritime alert citing “unconfirmed reports” of GPS interruptions or interference from five vessels and an aircraft operating between Cyprus and Port Said.

MM&P represents the licensed deck officers aboard ALLIANCE FAIRFAX, MAERSK COLUMBUS and MAERSK KINLOSS.

Captain John C. Finney, master of MAERSK COLUMBUS, described the incident aboard his vessel as follows:

“At approximately 1300 UTC, in vicinity of KM 31, we lost signal on both GPS units. First indication was an alarm on the VHF radios, followed soon after by loss indication alarms on both radars and ECDIS. Signal was intermittent for the next 90 minutes.”

“More disturbing was that in addition to loss of GPS signal, the radars would blank out, then after a couple seconds the picture would reappear. And the gyro compass alarm went off. And the ship’s clock commenced running backwards.”

“GPS speed indication would fluctuate from zero to over 50 knots, and this would cause the ECDIS charts to jump all over. At one point, we were east of the canal by 3 cables, then the chart would shift and we’d be west half a mile. At one point the ECDIS showed us clear of the canal and north in the departure fairway. Then GPS signal would stabilize, and the image would return to actual position.”

“Our event was much more than just loss of GPS signal.”

“Through all this, thanks to the fact we still have our paper charts on board (for education and reference purposes) we were able to accurately plot our track and felt secure in continuing, using some ‘old school’ technology.”

“At about 1500 UTC we were finally clear of the canal, and GPS signal now appears stable. There have been no further instances of signal loss since departing the canal, no further disruptions of radar, Gyros, etc. We have verified position accuracy using both radar ranges and visual bearings, and the ship is safe and secure.”

“The ECDIS does NOT automatically switch to DR mode when signal is lost. That has to be done manually every time. And it takes a few moments to find the screen, establish your true course and speed that you want to use, and then input that into the Master ECDIS. All during this time the chart image is jumping all over the place. The paper chart was a nice fall back to have handy.”

More information about the loss of GPS signal aboard ALLIANCE FAIRFAX on April 6 will be published in the next issue of The Wheelhouse Weekly.

MLL advises officers aboard all its vessels in the area to exercise caution.

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Construction of two new Matson vessels, the MATSONIA and the LURLINE, is underway at NASSCO shipyard in San Diego.

NASSCO announced on April 3 that it has started work on the MATSONIA, the second of two Kanaloa-class combination container and roll-on/roll-off (Con-Ro) vessels that will join Matson’s Hawaii fleet.

The first ship in the series, LURLINE, is 15 percent complete, the company said.

Construction of the MATSONIA began last month with a ceremonial first cut of steel.

Both ships will transport containers, automobiles and rolling stock between the West Coast of the United States and Hawaii.

The design incorporates liquefied natural gas (LNG)-capable main and auxiliary engines compliant with Tier III emission requirements.

Future installation of a LNG fuel gas system can be accommodated on the 870-foot-long, 3,500 TEU platform Con-Ro vessels.

Construction of the LURLINE is scheduled to be complete in the fourth quarter of 2019.

MATSONIA is scheduled for delivery in the second quarter of 2020.

The LURLINE will be the sixth Matson vessel of that name, while the second vessel will be the company’s fifth named MATSONIA.

Matson also has two Aloha Class ships under construction at Philly Shipyard with deliveries scheduled for the third quarter of 2018 and first quarter of 2019.

The 850-foot long, 3,600 TEU vessels will be Matson’s largest ships and the largest containerships ever built in the United States.

All the licensed deck officers aboard Matson ships are represented by Masters, Mates & Pilots.

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Members of the MM&P Federal Employees Membership Group (FEMG) are “adamantly opposed” to a Military Sealift Command (MSC) proposal to pilot test and roll out a new two-year crewing model for Civil Service mariners, says MM&P Government Fleet Representative Randi Ciszewski.

The main difference between MSC’s proposal and the current assignment model is that under the existing system, CIVMARS are assigned to ships by Marine Placement Specialists (MPS) for a minimum of four months.

The MPS specialists coordinate with the ship to manage leave, training and replacements for crewmembers who have completed their minimum four-month assignment.

Under MSC’s proposed plan, the master of the ship would manage “personnel readiness”–to include leave and training–and ships would be manned to 115 percent of the ship’s manning.

The ship’s master would have authority granted in Navy regulations and MSC policy to manage the crew “as necessary to maintain ship readiness, operational demands, crew leave and morale, good order and discipline.”

Leave would be granted at the discretion of the master.

The agency says the proposal is intended to test the concept of assigning crewmembers to a vessel for two years.

It wants to roll out the proposal with a one-year pilot test aboard USNS JOSHUA HUMPHREYS and USNS PECOS.

During the one-year pilot, USNS JOSHUA HUMPHREYS and USNS PECOS would function independently of MSC MPS specialists except in an emergency.

The union circulated details of the proposal to FEMG members in March to gain their input on the plan.

“While the union believes that MSC’s assignment process is broken, and that labor and management should collaboratively explore and implement a more efficient and effective crewing model, it came as no surprise that an overwhelming majority of MM&P members are adamantly opposed to the agency’s proposed one-year pilot and two-year tours of duty,” Ciszewski says.

“Hence, MM&P objected to the proposal, raised all of our members’ questions and concerns, and demanded bargaining in accordance with our collective bargaining agreement and Statute.”

“Upon receiving management’s response, we will enter into bargaining with MSC representatives and counter the proposed concept with proposals bearing some form of semblance to the tried and proven deep sea/commercial maritime industry practice, in accordance with 5 USC 5348; while recognizing the limited leave that CIVMARS earn, as well as considering all the other disparities that exist between public and private sector employment.”

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A shipping company that will focus exclusively on unmanned—or “autonomous”—vessels is set to begin operations in August of this year.

The company, called Massterly, is a joint venture between two Norwegian companies, shipping group Wilhelmsen and technology firm Kongsberg.

Wilhelmsen Chief Executive Officer Thomas Wilhelmsen said in a statement that the company will deploy infrastructure, services and logistics for the design and operation of autonomous vessels.

He said Massterly will have land-based control centers to monitor and operate autonomous ships in Norway and internationally beginning as early as 2020.

Skeptics assert, however, that autonomous ships will not be sailing the oceans of the world in the short or even the medium term.

“Even if technology advances, I don’t expect we will be allowed to sail around with 400-meter-long container ships, weighing 200,000 tons without any human beings onboard,” Maersk Chief Executive Officer Soren Skou was quoted as saying in an article published on Feb. 15 by Bloomberg Technology.

Skou says two factors will inhibit the spread of autonomous shipping: the lack of adequate return on investment and the absence of regulations.

In an interesting aside, journalist Christian Weinberg noted in the Bloomberg article that one of the major promoters of autonomous shipping, Rolls Royce, had decided to put its marine unit up for sale in January 2018 because it had failed to generate a profit, even after restructuring and the elimination of 4,200 jobs.

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), which represents more than 80 percent of the world’s ship owners, is also among the skeptics.

In a recent submission to the International Maritime Organization, the ICS stated that it “has yet to be convinced by a number of current assessments of the predicted rate of adoption… of ‘autonomous ships,’ and whether… such assessments reflect a realistic time frame and objective.”

There is skepticism as well among the men and women who helm today’s ships.

The overwhelming majority of professional mariners responding to a Nautilus Federation survey on autonomous shipping say they disagree with the predictions of some equipment manufacturers that the first fully autonomous ships will be in service by 2020.

Members of MM&P and 20 other Nautilus Federation affiliates in 16 countries responded to the survey, which was conducted last year.

Eighty-three percent of respondents said they disagreed with predictions that commercially viable unmanned/remotely controlled ships would be in service by 2020.

Fewer than 40 percent thought they would be in widespread service within the next 20 years.

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After refusing to bargain with the union that represents 3,900 of its employees, the Department of Education has issued a unilateral contract and ordered employees to abide by it.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the department and its administrator, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

“The agency has imposed an illegal document,” says AFGE’s Claudette Young.

“You can’t call it a ‘collective bargaining agreement’ because it wasn’t collective, it wasn’t bargained, and there was no agreement,” she added.

“It’s a total attempt to strip employees of their rights and bust the union.”

For the past month, union members have been protesting outside the department’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., warning that the attempt to nullify the previous contract and impose “a unilateral edict” may spread to other agencies headed by Trump appointees.

“This administration won’t stop until every union has been busted and every union contract has been ripped up,” said AFGE Secretary-Treasurer Joe Flynn at a recent demonstration.

AFGE said that it is “exploring every legal avenue” in the case.

Education Secretary DeVos has a long history of anti-union activity.

For decades prior to joining the Trump administration, she funded politicians working to weaken labor unions, in particular those representing teachers.

The one-sided agreement that the Department of Education is seeking to impose includes a number of obvious deficiencies, union leaders say.

For one thing, it’s not signed.

“In order for any contract to be legally binding, it must be illustrated by a signature,” says Sharon Harris, an AFGE official.

The document also uses the union’s logo on its front cover.

“They didn’t get permission from AFGE to use that, and it gives a false perception that this was a joint agreement between management and the union,” she adds.

The document also includes a preamble that states:

“The following articles of this agreement constitute a total and complete agreement on the subjects addressed in the articles, by and between the U.S. Department of Education … and the American Federation of Government Employees …”

“Their preamble states they reached an agreement with our union, which they did not,” she says.

Union leaders say DeVos has rebuffed AFGE’s attempts to discuss the situation.

They say they have made numerous attempts to schedule meetings with the education secretary, but to no avail.

“We are eager to return to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair and just contract, which all employees deserve,” the union said in a statement.

The Federal Labor Relations Authority is expected to launch an investigation in response to AFGE’s complaint.

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Appointees of President Donald Trump are seeking to close two offices of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), an independent government agency that investigates labor-management disputes across the federal government.

For example, the FLRA provides oversight of relations between MM&P and government agencies that employ union members such as Military Sealift Command.

The current FLRA members were appointed by President Trump.

In their fiscal 2019 budget, they said they want to cut the number of regional offices from seven to five by shuttering the agency’s offices in Boston and Dallas.

Now, a group of eight former FLRA regional directors has written to the leadership of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, saying that the agency has already been severely weakened by budget cuts and risks losing the ability to carry out its work.

“Essentially, FLRA went far beyond most agencies in reducing operational costs and expenses,” they wrote.

“In FY 2000, FLRA had 215 full-time employees; by FY 2009, the number of full-time employees was 114, a 45 percent reduction.”

The former regional directors said the proposal to shutter two FLRA offices could jeopardize years of progress in facilitating positive labor-management relations within the federal government.

“This decision, if accepted, will adversely affect not only the efficient performance of that agency’s mission, but will also negatively impact the very significant process which has been made in recent years to reduce reliance on confrontational labor relations in the federal sector, while also encouraging alternative methods of dispute resolution,” they wrote.

“[To] eliminate two of the regional offices as now proposed would further reduce the credibility and effectiveness of the FLRA.”

In March, a group of 20 labor groups announced their opposition to the proposal in a letter to members of Congress.

“For operational, mission and budget reasons, it is clear that the FLRA’s plan to close two regional offices should not go forward,” the unions wrote.

“It would undermine the agency’s ability to carry out its mission, and was devised under budgetary and policy assumptions that are no longer current or accurate.”

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MITAGS-PMI is interested in receiving photo submissions from MM&P members for use on the official MITAGS-PMI social media platform.

The goal is to document members’ voyages. As suggestions, photos can be of events and sights onboard, crewmembers at work or scenic locations.

If you are interested in sharing photos, please send them with caption information to or

Be sure to tell us whether you would like to be credited for the photo.

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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 Amanda Meadows, Admissions Coordinator, toll-free at 866-656-5568 or by e-mail:

Why not try our on-line calendar to register for class:

For Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) processing, MMC problem resolution advice, STCW compliance and VA GI-Bill questions, contact MITAGS-PMI Student/Instructional Services Manager Jennifer Pitzen at 206-739-0720 (direct line); (888) 893-7829 (toll free); or by e-mail:

Please include your Mariner Reference Number, date of birth and the last four digits of your social security number in all emails.

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 – 4/16/18, 8/27/18, 10/15/18

AIS-1 – Automatic Identifications Systems Orientation: 5/23/18, 8/29/18

ARPA-OIC – Automated Radar Plotting Aids: 9/25/18

AZIPOD 2-Day – 5/21/18, 10/15/18

BRM-35 – Bridge Resource Management: 6/18/18, 9/24/18, 10/29/18

BRMP –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 5/21/18, 7/16/18, 12/19/18

BRMP-EMR –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots with Emergency Shiphandling: Contact Admissions

BRMP-Refresher – 5/23/18, 7/18/18, 9/11/18

BT – Basic Safety Training: 8/13/18, 10/22/18

BT-Revalidation (2-day) (Must have 1 year of seatime in last 5 years) – 4/30/18, 6/18/18, 7/31/18, 8/27/18, 9/26/18, 10/31/18, 12/18/18

BT-Refresher (3-day) – 4/29/18, 7/30/18, 9/26/18, 12/17/18

CHS-OIC – Cargo Handling Basic: 5/7/18

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

ADVSTB-CMM – Advanced Stability: 6/11/18, 7/30/18, 9/24/18, 12/10/18

ADVWX-CMM – Advanced Meteorology: 6/4/18, 8/6/18, 9/17/18, 12/3/18

CHS-CMM – Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 10/1/18

CM-OPS 1 – Chief Mate Operations – Week 1: 6/4/18, 8/6/18, 10/1/18

CM-OPS 2 Maersk – Chief Mate Operations II Maersk Specific: 6/11/18, 8/13/18, 10/8/18

ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display Information Systems: 6/25/18, 8/13/18, 11/12/18

LMS – Leadership and Managerial Skills (Management Level – Formerly MCL-CMM): 5/14/18, 6/18/18, 8/20/18, 11/26/18

MPP-CMM – Marine Propulsion Plants: 10/15/18

SEC-APPS – Practical Defense Tactics: 10/1/18

SHMGT-CMM- Ship Management (2 weeks): 4/23/18, 10/29/18

SHS-ADV-I-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 4/23/18, 5/7/18, 6/4/18, 6/18/18, 7/16/18, 7/30/18, 8/13/18, 9/10/18, 10/1/18, 11/5/18, 11/26/18

SHS-ADV-II-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 4/16/18, 4/30/18, 5/14/18, 6/11/18, 6/25/18, 7/23/18, 8/6/18, 8/20/18, 9/17/18, 10/8/18, 11/12/18, 12/3/18

**SHS-ADV-I & II now approved to include SAR-CMM assessments at MITAGS effective immediately**

VPEN-CMM – Voyage Planning & Electronic Navigation: 10/22/18

WKP-CMM – Advanced Watchkeeping: 5/7/18, 9/10/18

CNAV-OIC – Celestial Navigation: 4/23/18

CONT PLNG – Contingency Planning Workshop: Contact Admissions

CRISIS-COMMS – Crisis Communications: 5/1/18

CRSMGT – Crisis Management and Human Behavior – 7/12/18

CDMGT – Crowd Management – 7/13/18

CSE – Confined Space Entry: 7/23/18

CSE-AWR – Confined Space Entry Awareness: 5/24/18, 7/26/18

DDE – Great Lakes: 6/4/18

DPA – Contact Admissions

ECDIS for Pilots – 5/24/18, 8/27/18, 12/17/18

ERM – Engine Resource Management: 4/23/18, 7/9/18, 11/26/18

FF-BADV – Fire Fighting Combined Basic & Advanced: 8/13/18, 10/22/18

FF-ADV-Rev (1-day) (Must have 1 year of seatime in last 5 years) – Advanced Fire Fighting Revalidation: 5/2/18, 6/20/18, 8/2/18, 8/29/18, 9/25/18, 10/30/18

FF-ADV-REF (2-day) – Advanced Fire Fighting Refresher: 4/27/18, 7/28/18, 9/29/18, 12/15/18

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep, & Medications: 4/17/18, 9/11/18

GL-Pilot – Great Lakes Pilotage Familiarization: Contact Admissions

GMDSS – Global Maritime Distress and Safety System: Contact Admissions

HAZ – Hazardous Materials (5 day): 5/21/18, 8/20/18, 12/10/18

IEN – Integrated Electronic Navigation – Contact Admissions

LAP – 7/9/18, 9/17/18

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

LAP-ORG3rd – License Advancement Program for Original 3rd Mate, Oceans, Any Gross
Ton License: Contact Admissions

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 4/18/18, 5/8/18, 9/12/18

LNG-TPIC – 12/3/18

LTS –Leadership and Teamworking Skills (Formerly MCL-OIC): 5/21/18

MEECE – Management of Electrical and Electronic Control Equipment (Assessments not included): 4/30/18, 7/16/18, 12/3/18

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge: 5/7/18, 7/9/18, 10/8/18, 11/26/18

MED-PIC-REF– Medical Person in Charge Refresher: 4/23/18, 6/25/18, 8/20/18, 9/17/18

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 4/16/18, 5/7/18, 10/8/18, 11/26/18

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing: 5/3/18, 5/12/18, 6/21/18, 7/14/18, 8/30/18, 9/24/18, 10/13/18, 10/29/18, 12/1/18, 12/21/18

MSA –Maritime Security Awareness: Contact Admissions

[MSC – Military Sealift Command Courses]

MSC-CBRD-1 – Military Sealift Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense Orientation (Basic): 5/24/18, 6/8/18, 8/8/18, 9/12/18, 11/14/18

MSC-DC – Military Sealift Command Damage Control: 5/22/18, 6/6/18, 8/6/18, 9/13/18, 11/12/18

*MSC-ENVPRO – 6/3/18, 8/5/18, 11/4/18

*MSC-FF-HELO – 6/4/18, 8/13/18, 10/31/18

MSC-SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualifications: 5/14/18, 6/11/18, 7/16/18, 8/12/18, 9/17/18, 11/5/18

*MSC-Security Watch Basic – 5/13/18, 6/9/18, 8/9/18, 9/15/18, 11/2/18

*MSC-Security Watch Advanced – 5/18/18, 6/10/18, 7/15/18, 8/10/18, 9/16/18, 11/3/18

*MSC-Ship’s Reaction Force – 5/19/18, 6/15/18, 7/20/18, 8/17/18, 9/21/18, 11/9/18

NSAP-MMP – Navigational Skills Assessment Program-MM&P – 4/23/18, 4/25/18, 6/25/18, 6/27/18, 7/31/18, 8/2/18, 8/28/18, 8/30/18, 11/12/18, 11/14/18, 12/17/18, 12/19/18

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 9/24/18

ROR-1N – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 4/18/18, 5/2/18, 5/9/18, 5/16/18, 6/6/18, 6/20/18, 7/11/18, 7/25/18, 8/8/18, 8/22/18, 10/3/18, 10/17/18, 10/31/18, 11/7/18, 11/14/18, 11/28/18, 12/5/18, 12/12/18, 12/19/18

ROU-OIC – Radar Observer Program – Unlimited: 9/17/18

SAR – Search & Rescue – (Now with OIC and CMM assessments): 12/17/18

SHS-BAS-OIC – Basic Shiphandling: 5/14/18, 8/27/18, 10/22/18

SHS-EMR5 – Emergency Shiphandling-5 Day – 5/21/18, 7/23/18, 9/24/18, 10/29/18, 12/10/18

SMS – Contact Admissions

STB-OIC – Ship Construction and Basic Stability: Contact Admissions

TCNAV/CO – Terrestrial Navigation and Compasses: Contact Admissions

TPIC – Tankerman Person in Charge: 4/16/18, 7/9/18

TRAC-TUG-2: Contact Admissions

TTT – Contact Admissions

VPDSD – Vessel Personnel with Designated Security Duties: 4/12/18

VSO – Vessel Security Officer: 7/9/18

WKP-OIC – Watchkeeping (Operational Level): Contact Admissions

WX-OIC –Meteorology (Operational Level): Contact Admissions

Back to Stories Covered


Spring 2018

For registration, please contact our registrar, Mary McGhee, at 206.838.1126 or You can also view our schedule and enroll online at

April 2018
11th Hazwoper Refresher
13th Radar Renewal
13-14 Basic Training Revalidation
16th Advanced Firefighting Revalidation
16-18 24-Hour Hazwoper
16-20 Medical Care Provider
16-27 Medical Person-In-Charge
23rd Vessel Personnel w/ Designated Security Duties (VPDSD)
23-4 GMDSS
23-4 Watchkeeping (Operational Level)
26th Advanced Firefighting Revalidation
27-28 Basic Training Revalidation
30-4 Leadership & Managerial Skills

May 2018
7-11 Radar Observer Unlimited
7-18 License Preparation
9th Hazwoper Refresher
11-12 Basic Training Revalidation
11-14 Basic Training Refresher (no class on Sunday)
14th Radar Renewal
14-18 Basic Training
14-18 Ship Construction and Basic Stability
15th Advanced Firefighting Revalidation
21-23 Search and Rescue
21-25 ECDIS
23-25 24-Hour Hazwoper
25th Vessel Personnel w/ Designated Security Duties (VPDSD)
29-31 Security Officer – Vessel, Company, and Facility
29-1 Advanced Firefighting

June 2018
2-4 Basic Training Revalidation (no class on Sunday)
4th Radar Renewal
4th Leadership & Teamworking Skills
4-8 Medical Care Provider
4-15 Medical Person-In-Charge
5-8 ARPA
11-14 Advanced Firefighting
11-22 GMDSS
11-22 Watchkeeping (Operational Level)
18-22 Engine Resource Management
22-23 Basic Training Revalidation
22-24 Basic Training Refresher
25th Advanced Firefighting Revalidation
25-29 Meteorology (Operational Level)
25-29 Leadership & Managerial Skills
26th Medical DOT

Back to Stories Covered

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 © 2018. Articles can be reprinted without prior permission if credit is given to The MM&P WheelhouseWeekly. For subscriptions, address changes or messages to the editor or to MM&P headquarters, e-mail Back issues of The Weekly are posted on