Wheelhouse Weekly – April 24th, 2018

April 25th 2018

Volume 23… Number 17… April 24, 2018


Stand-Off on the Panama Canal:

Also in This Issue:

Maritime Casualties:

Protect Your Job:

Job Opportunity:

Mark Your Calendar:


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The stand-off over safety risks on the expanded Panama Canal has entered a new phase following the unilateral decision by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) to eliminate one deckhand aboard lead tugs working in the expanded locks.

ACP accompanied the move with threats to dismiss tug captains who are protesting the safety risks of the reduction in crew size and forced overtime on the canal.

The MM&P affiliate Union de Capitanes y Oficiales de Cubierta (UCOC) represents about 200 canal tug captains and associated vessel personnel.

International labor organizations, including the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the Nautilus Federation, have stepped into the fray in support of MM&P and its affiliate union.

The ITF Executive Board, which met in London on April 19-20, has lodged a complaint with the International Labor Organization (ILO) Committee on Freedom of Association.

The ILO has jurisdiction to intervene in cases of overt anti-labor actions by governments that are signatories to the ILO Convention. Its members are governments, labor and management with equal representation.

MM&P President Don Marcus said the ACP’s decision to eliminate a deckhand from the crew complement aboard the lead tugs in the locks poses serious safety risks.

“Our captains are protesting due to the extremely hazardous nature of the lead tug operation, where three deckhands are required: one to operate the tug’s winch and two to handle two towing lines or a towing bridle from the tug to the ship,” he said.

Marcus says that reducing the size of the crew “in the most challenging and dangerous phase of the expanded locks operation is irresponsible.”

He notes that a deckhand was killed on the canal in November 2017, adding that “the arbitrary and unconscionable action by the ACP will lead to more tragedy.”

“There is consistent evidence to show the very high incidence of death and injuries amongst seafarers associated with the handling of lines and ropes,” agrees Nautilus Federation President Mark Dickinson.

In an April 23 letter to the ACP, he said “reduced manning will exacerbate fatigue and excessive working hour problems” on the canal, giving rise to more risks.

The ITF, for its part, said it has received reports of excessive overtime being demanded of tug captains and deckhands.

“The ITF has been provided evidence that shows the shifts are consistently being prolonged far beyond the agreed hours of work,” wrote ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton in an April 23 letter to ACP Chief Executive Officer Jorge L. Quijano.

“According to what we have seen, this appears to have become the norm rather than the exception, with the crew on in-service tugs working shifts of between 13 up to 16 hours a day…”

He also said “there is evidence that sufficient rest time between shifts has not been adequate and is not guaranteed.”

Besides the death of the deckhand, there have been other incidents and accidents on the canal, including the collision of a tug with a U.S. Coast Guard cutter.

The tugboat captain’s fatigue because of excessive working hours was identified by the National Transportation Safety Board as a factor in that accident.

Meanwhile, the canal authority has begun administrative procedures to dismiss 22 UCOC members for calling out management on the safety risks.

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More than a quarter of those who responded to a recent survey on the mental health needs of people who work at sea reported that they had felt depressed during the previous two weeks.

The survey of over 1,000 mariners was conducted by Yale University and the international maritime charity Sailors’ Society, which serves seafarers in 91 ports worldwide.

One in four people who responded to the survey, presented earlier this month at the “Wellness at Sea Conference” in London, said they had felt “down, depressed or hopeless” on several days over the course of the previous two weeks.

More than one in six respondents said they were from the United Kingdom. The others were from a number of different countries.

Commonly cited causes of depression included being away from family and lengthy assignments.

Another factor was the quality and quantity of food on board.

Additional risk factors included: repetitive and boring tasks; work pressures; difficulty getting enough sleep; worry about the consequences of making a mistake; inspections; administrative tasks; commercial pressure from shore.

“Seafarers spend months on end at sea, facing some of the toughest conditions of any workforce–isolation, cramped living quarters, noise, heat, storms–sometimes they’re not even able to stomach the food on board,” says Sailors’ Society Deputy CEO Sandra Welch.

“This report is a wake-up call to the industry about the huge impact this is having on seafarers’ mental health.”

The authors of the study said ship operators should take steps to reduce fatigue by placing an appropriate number of crew on board and to promote wellness by providing healthy meal options and access to amenities such as communal areas, internet and shore leave.

Nearly half the seafarers who reported symptoms of depression said they had not asked anybody for help.

“If you feel affected by poor mental health, seek professional support as soon as possible,” the authors of the studies advise.

In the meantime: talk about your feelings; try to get enough sleep; be active; eat well and drink sensibly; stay in touch with friends and family.

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Weeks before an engine malfunction caused the death of a passenger, the union that represents mechanics at Southwest Airlines warned that company management had an “ostrich-like head-in-the-sand approach” about problems with its maintenance program.

The union says 75 percent of Southwest Airlines maintenance work is being contracted out to third-party vendors, many in foreign countries.

In a Feb. 26 e-mail, the national director of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, Bret Oestreich, told Southwest Airlines Chief Operating Officer Mike van de Ven that there was too much outsourcing of maintenance work.

“The truth is there exists a serious concern regarding the degradation of safety within Southwest’s maintenance program as determined by the Federal Aviation Administration,” Oestreich wrote.

“You would be derelict in your duties as a chief operating officer were you to continue with the ostrich-like head-in-the-sand approach to the serious problems that exist within our maintenance program and culture,” he said.

A Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) report issued in early April revealed that nearly a quarter of maintenance work on U.S. airplanes is being done offshore in foreign maintenance bays.

“The dangerous dirty secret of the airline industry is their use of low-paid mechanics in foreign countries to maintain passenger aircraft,” says TWU President John Samuelsen.

“It is a fact that Southwest and many other United States’ airlines have overhaul work done overseas by mechanics not required to meet the stringent standards and requirements adhered to inside the United States. It’s the ultimate example of a ‘profits before people’ business plan and it has created a clear and present danger to America’s air travelers.”

The AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department, of which TWU and MM&P are both affiliates, has repeatedly warned of similar risks.

Engine-maker CFM had proposed safety checks on its engines last June after a fan blade separated from a Southwest engine in August 2016, according to federal documents.

But Southwest declined to follow the company’s recommendation to inspect fan blades like the one that caused the engine failure.

In the accident, the plane made an emergency landing after debris from the engine tore a foot-long hole above the plane’s left wing and a passenger was partially sucked out.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators have found that the fan blades showed signs of metal fatigue.

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Teachers in Arizona voted to walk off the job on April 26 in a quest for higher pay and increased classroom funding.

The strike vote came on the heels of job actions by educators in other states where reductions in school funding and low teacher pay have been used to offset tax cuts.

Arizona teachers are joining a movement that started in West Virginia–where a strike yielded raises for all state workers–and has spread to Oklahoma, Kentucky and Colorado.

The strike vote followed weeks of protests and an offer by Arizona’s Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to give teachers a 20 percent raise by 2020.

But teachers and the parents and students who support them say that offer fails to provide needed funding for classrooms and support staff.

A union spokesperson said the governor’s office had not answered two letters asking him to meet with teachers to discuss school funding needs.

Around 78 percent of the 57,000 unionized teachers who belong to the Arizona Education Association voted in favor of the walkout.

Arizona is a right-to-work state, where unions do not collectively bargain with school districts and are required to represent “free riders” in the workplace who do not pay dues.

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Two members of the crew of the MV FENG HUI HAI died April 22 in a confined space accident.

The Hong Kong-flagged bulker had just arrived at an outer anchorage at the Port of Naviakhi, India, to discharge a load of coal, when the master reported to local authorities that four members of the crew had been injured in “a gas leak.”

The victims were taken to a hospital where two died. A third person is in critical condition.

Preliminary reports are that the victims collapsed after entering a confined space.

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Twelve members of the crew of the Dutch-flagged cargo ship FWN RAPIDE were kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Nigeria on April 21.

The attack took place as the ship was nearing Port Harcourt.

Two crewmembers left aboard the vessel were safe, ship owner ForestWave Navigation said in a statement, adding that the two had moved the vessel on their own to a safe location after the attack and should be commended for their bravery.

The company said its emergency response team was working around the clock, in tandem with local and international authorities, to obtain the release of the 12 people who had been kidnapped.

“Together with our local representatives in the countries of origin of our valued seafarers we are keeping the families of the FWN RAPIDE crew informed about the situation,” the company added.

It said no further information would be provided so as not to put those who had been kidnapped at additional risk.

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The current Administration believes $210 million is enough to cover the Maritime Security Program.

Help us stand up and fight for the authorized funding level–$300 million–which is needed to fully support the 60-ship Maritime Security fleet.

We need supporters in Congress to fight the MSP budget cut proposed by the Administration.

That means we need the support of every MM&P member, pensioner and employee!

Please help us elect pro-maritime legislators to Congress who will vote to authorize the full $300 million.

Stand with your union brothers and sisters!

Support the MM&P Political Contribution Fund by making a contribution to the PCF today.

Go to and click on the “Donate Now” button in the top right-hand corner of the page.

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The permanent position for ROS Chief Mate aboard the MV CAPE HORN is open. Matson is accepting resumés. Master’s experience preferred, no classes necessary. The vessel is currently berthed at Pier 50 in San Francisco. Send resumés to Danny Defanti at

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The contributions of American merchant mariners will be celebrated during the month of May at Maritime Day ceremonies around the country.

In San Pedro, Calif., the American Merchant Marine Veterans Memorial Committee will begin the day with a service at the American Merchant Marine Veterans Memorial (Harbor Ave. and 6th Street, San Pedro) followed by a luncheon at the Ports O’Call Restaurant (Berth 76).

There is free parking at the restaurant, which is located at 1200 Nagoya Way, San Pedro, with free transportation provided by the San Pedro Trolley between Ports O’Call and the Memorial from 1000 to 1300.

The Memorial is maintained by the committee and supported by your donations and by advertisements in the National Maritime Day program book.

Your support is extremely important. The deadline for placing an ad is May 7. Reservations are required for the luncheon.

You can reserve a seat or a table for lunch, book advertising space and donate, at:

If you have any questions, please contact Jerry Aspland: or by phone or fax to: 714-968-4409.

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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 – 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): 10/29/18

SHS-ADV-I-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 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): 4/30/18, 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: Contact Admissions

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: 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: 7/28/18, 9/29/18, 12/15/18

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep, & Medications: 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: 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: 6/25/18, 8/20/18, 9/17/18

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 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 – 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: 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: 7/9/18

TRAC-TUG-2: Contact Admissions

TTT – Contact Admissions

VPDSD – Vessel Personnel with Designated Security Duties: Contact Admissions

VSO – Vessel Security Officer: 7/9/18

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

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

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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
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

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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 © 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