Wheelhouse Weekly – April 21, 2000

April 21st 2000


Bridging the Information Gap With E-News You Can Use

VOLUME 4. . . . . NUMBER 16. . . . April 21, 2000



The Journal of Commerce reports that New England importers, exporters and maritime groups are urging MM&P-contracted Maersk-SeaLand to continue direct calls at Boston after a carrier alliance expires on July 3.

As reported in last week’s Wheelhouse Weekly, the impending expiration of the Vessel Sharing Agreement ship-sharing alliance of Maersk-SeaLand, P&O Nedlloyd, Orient Overseas Container Line and Hapag Lloyd threatens to leave Mediterranean Shipping Co. as the only trans-Atlantic carrier serving the port.

There are no all-water services connecting Boston with the Far East, Latin America or the Mediterranean. John Boudreau, Maersk-SeaLand’s director for Atlantic services, said the line will decide within the next 30 to 60 days whether to continue direct calls to Boston after July 3 or to serve it some other way.

Alternatives to direct trans-Atlantic vessel calls would be barge service via New York or Halifax and truck or rail services via New York, options that would be slower and more expensive.
Many New England shippers, worried about the existing congestion, don’t want to transship through the Port of NY-NJ.

Sources say Maersk-SeaLand is playing their cards very close to the vest at the moment. They have not said whether they’re going to stay or to pull out. Boston trade and maritime groups hope to meet with Maersk-SeaLand on May 9.

Maersk-SeaLand and its VSA partners handled 40,359 TEUs at the Port of Boston last year, representing 34% of the total container volume, according to Massport figures. Mediterranean Shipping handled 29,169 TEUs, 25% of the port’s traffic, while barge services handled the rest.

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Last Saturday, a producer from the Discovery Channel visited MM&P’s LA/Long Beach hall to talk with MM&P member Jared Myregard in regard to the SS MAYAGUEZ incident. Brother Myregard, who ships out of the LA/LB hall, was Second Mate aboard the SeaLand vessel when she was seized by Cambodian troops off that country’s coastline on May 12, 1975. Brother Myregard shared his intimate knowledge of the events surrounding the ship’s capture and the entire 40-member crew’s subsequent detention. To mark the 25th anniversary of the incident, the Discovery Channel will air a documentary on the MAYAGUEZ on Sunday, May 14 at 2000 hrs Eastern DST. Check local listings for the broadcast time in your area.

President Gerald Ford called on US armed forces to coordinate the recapture of the vessel and its crew. An attack plan was quickly developed utilizing US military forces already in the area. They were briefed on their mission and put underway to their intercept point. Just three days later on May 15, a strike force was launched in a coordinated air and sea attack to take back the US-flag merchant vessel.

The MAYAGUEZ had been forced to steam from where it was captured on the high seas in the Gulf of Siam off of the Wai Islands to the small island of Koh Tang which had been claimed by the Khmer Rouge revolutionary forces. While the ship laid dead at anchor, a two-pronged assault was launched. While US Marines stormed the vessel, a full-scale assault was unleashed against Koh Tang. In the process, two USAF CH-53 helicopters were downed by enemy fire, with the loss of 11 Marines, 2 Navy corpsmen and the Air Force pilot of one of the choppers. The surviving crew members of the helicopters were quickly rescued by US forces.

The 40 crewmembers of the MAYAGUEZ, who had been removed from the ship by the Cambodians and were being held on a captured Thai fishing vessel nearby, were located unharmed. They were returned to the MAYAGUEZ and within hours were sailing out of harm’s way under the escort of US Navy vessels.

It is fitting that the MAYAGUEZ incident should be remembered in conjunction with the heroic actions of the US military in protecting and defending the US merchant marine and the US citizen mariners who were captured in a hostile land a quarter century ago.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


The Congressional Information Bureau reports that the Maritime Administration (MarAd) is assessing the impact of the Maritime Security Program (MSP) and its associated Emergency Preparedness Program (EPP), the Voluntary Intermodal Sealift (VISA) program.

The evaluation will seek to determine the contribution of MSP/VISA to the achievement of Dept. of Transportation (DOT) and MARAD national security goals. As part of DOT’s implementation of the Government Performance and Results Act, MarAd has been investigating how well its major programs are working to achieve stated objectives.

As set out in DOT and MarAd strategic plans to meet US national security goals, the MSP is designed to help ensure that an active US merchant fleet, and the trained personnel needed to operate both privately-owned active commercial vessels and Government-owned and controlled reserve ships, will be available to meet Dept. of Defense (DOD) requirements for sealift during national emergencies. In FY 2000, these requirements include DOD access to 165,000 TEUs or 14.5 million square feet of US-flag commercial vessel capacity and to carriers’ intermodal transportation equipment and service networks.

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The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has cleared a measure authorizing appropriations for the USCG after an amendment was offered and successfully incorporated into the bill. The measure authorizes appropriations for the USCG for Fiscal Years 2000 and 2001. However, Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) convinced the Committee to extend the bill to cover Fiscal Year 2002. Her amendment also addresses core readiness problems.

The agency is seeking close to $4.2 billion in FY 2000, $4.55 billion in FY 2001 and an unspecified amount in the following fiscal year. The Committee also advanced a bill establishing a commission on national ocean policy.

They also approved several USCG flag nominations including: Vice Admiral Thomas H. Collins, USCG, to be Vice Commandant, with the Grade of Vice Admiral and Rear Adm. Ernest R. Riutta, USCG, to be Commander, Pacific Area, with the Grade of Vice Admiral.

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A conference designed to examine the human element in maritime operations will be held April 25-26 in Washington, DC. Topics to be discussed will include changing maritime corporate culture to meet the realities of the post-ISM world and adopting a proactive, people-oriented approach to safety and pollution prevention. The latest studies impacting the maritime working environment will also be explored. Other issues to be covered will include: the shortage of qualified seafarers, fatigue and related issues, risk assessment, and STCW issues. USCG Rear Adm. Robert North will be the featured speaker. For further info, contact Jane Poterala at the Marine Log at 212-620-7209.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


Recently, the ongoing rift between the United Transportation Union (UTU) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE) widened further, with the UTU announcing it has withdrawn from the AFL-CIO. In announcing its disaffiliation, the UTU said the AFL-CIO “demonstrated a lack of evenhandedness” in decisions as well as holding positions in national transportation policy that would hurt railroad employees.

“Because UTU perceives its differences with the federation … to be presently irreconcilable, the UTU board of directors and I have concluded that it will be in the best interest of both UTU and the federation for us to immediately disaffiliate,” Charles L. Little, the UTU international’s president wrote in a letter to John Sweeney, AFL-CIO president.

In 1986, the UTU withdrew from the federation for three years over a dispute concerning coal slurry policy that threatened the jobs of thousands of railroad workers. Other major unions, including the Teamsters and Mine Workers, have withdrawn from the federation at different times over political and organizing disputes.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


The American Maritime History Project, Inc., an ambitious effort to record, preserve and communicate the 400-year story of America’s rich seafaring history, was recently launched at the US Merchant Marine Academy. Dr. Alex Roland, the project’s editor, described plans for the first phase to the project’s board of directors and advisory committee. Dr. Roland, a professor and former chairman of the Duke University History Department, is a specialist in military history and previously served as historian for NASA. He introduced four other scholars who will contribute chapters to the initial, summary volume of a planned comprehensive history of American maritime activity from 1600 to 2000. Later, there will be additional volumes focusing on particular periods within that span.

“This is an exciting enterprise,” said Dr. Roland. “Maritime activity transporting goods and passengers by water was America’s largest industry from earliest colonial times until the middle of the 19th Century. Waterborne commerce, not only on the oceans but the Great Lakes, rivers, canals and other waterways, built this country and remains vital today. Yet the impact of maritime activity on American history remains little studied and poorly appreciated. We hope to correct that shortcoming.”

In a letter endorsing the project, US Maritime Administrator Clyde J. Hart, Jr. wrote, “The maritime industry has a long and often exciting history of vital service to America, in peace and war. All Americans deserve to know more about the important contribution of maritime transport to the economic growth of the nation.” For further info contact Eliot Lumbard of The American Maritime History Project, 631-773-5654; or Charles Holcomb of Holcomb Associates, 631-427-3706.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


MITAGS has the following course openings:

  • May 1-12: GMDSS
  • May 1-19: MMO
  • May 8-12: COMP-OPSYS
  • May 10: CPR
  • May 13: CBRD
  • May 15-19: FF-ADV, TPIC, COMP-NET
  • May 16-17: EAPT, GMDSS
  • May 22-26: BST
  • May 24: HAZ-MAT Night
  • May 27: CBRD
  • June 5-16: MED-PIC
  • June 5-9: HAZ

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

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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