Wheelhouse Weekly – August 06, 2007

August 6th 2007


– Bridging the Information Gap With E-News You Can Use –

Volume 11 . . . . . Number 31. . . .August 6, 2007




T-AGS Oceanographic Survey Ships Info

Required Coursework

Security Clearances

MSC Physicals

MM&P Health & Benefit Plan News

Notice to Members who are taking Vioxx

NMHC Mail-Order Prescriptions Website Updated & Improved

WWII USCG Veterans Outreach

Company Gives Bucks Back for buying Safe Shoes

Website Offers Union-Made Goods and Services

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


Washington State Ferries Captain Mike Murray is the new head of MM&P’s United Inland Group (UIG). He replaces Steve Demeroutis, who retired as UIG vice president on Aug. 1. Murray, who has been a member of the UIG for 35 years, was appointed vice president by the MM&P General Executive Board at its July meeting.

“To serve the most professional men and women in the industry as an MM&P vice president is an honor and a privilege,” Murray said. “MM&P has earned the  trust of members and companies alike,” he said. “We have high standards and integrity that I promise to hold strong.”

On behalf of the entire MM&P membership, Murray expressed his appreciation to the outgoing UIG vice president. “Steve Demeroutis has been a friend and a mentor,” Murray said. “I extend a heartfelt thanks and best wishes to him and his family.”

Murray took the opportunity to welcome new employee Laurie Andersen as MM&P’s Puget Sound Office Manager. He encourages members to call the Puget Sound Office, at 425-775-1403, and to visit the Group’s website,, for updates on UIG news.


All the proposed changes to the MM&P Offshore Shipping Rules that were circulated for member ratification in the form of a 90-day ballot have been approved. The ballots were tallied as this issue of The Wheelhouse Weekly was being finalized. Details of the ballot count will be included in our Aug. 13 issue.



Both the House Transportation Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee have approved legislation to address complaints from professional mariners who have seen their freedom of movement at some U.S. terminals sharply curtailed in recent years by onerous security schemes of questionable legality. With strong support from MM&P, the committees have included language in their respective Coast Guard authorization bills that would require ports and terminals to have in place a system that would allow seamen, pilots and representatives of welfare and labor organizations to board and depart vessels through the facility in a timely manner at no cost to the individual. The House bill (HR 2830) and the Senate bill (S 1892) are expected to be voted on when Congress returns after Labor Day.


At the strong urging of MM&P, MIRAID and others in the maritime industry, Congress is poised to reject the Bush Administration’s proposal to appropriate less than the full amount needed to fund the Maritime Security Program (MSP) in fiscal year 2008. The House of Representatives and the Senate Committee on Appropriations have each approved the authorized amount of $156 million, rejecting the Administration’s request for only $154.4 million.

“The Maritime Security Program provides resources to maintain a U.S.-flag merchant fleet crewed by U.S. citizens to serve both the commercial and national security needs of the United States,” says the report that was issued by the Senate Appropriations Committee in tandem with its action on S 1789. The House Appropriations Committee echoed this statement in its own report, noting that the purpose of the MSP and its fleet of 60 militarily useful privately owned U.S.-flag, U.S.-crewed commercial vessels is “to maintain and preserve a U.S.-flag merchant fleet to serve the national security needs of the United States.” It is expected that the fiscal year 2008 transportation appropriations bill, including MSP funding, will be sent to the President for his signature in the fall. 


At the urging of Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.), and with the strong support of MM&P and the other seafaring unions, on July 30, the House of Representatives passed HR 23, the Belated Thank-You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act of 2007. The bill authorizes a tax-exempt $1,000 monthly benefit to eligible WWII merchant mariners. “The House of Representatives took the opportunity to correct a grave injustice heaped upon the gallant men of the Merchant Marine of World War II,” said Filner, the primary sponsor of HR 23. “We call our veterans ‘heroes’ for a reason. The heroes from past wars deserve all the care and dignity that this nation can bestow. We will work boldly and tirelessly to move this legislation forward.”

Now that the House has passed the bill, MM&P and MIRAID are shifting their advocacy efforts to the Senate, where S 961, the companion bill to HR 23, is pending before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. S 961, sponsored by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), has attracted 47 cosponsors. “MM&P will continue to do everything we can to move this well-deserved and long-overdue legislation through Congress so that we can finally have this bill signed into law this year,” said MM&P International President Timothy Brown. “In this way, we as a country can finally right the wrong for our heroic World War II merchant mariners.”

For updates on the status of this legislation, go to


In the wake of the controversy surrounding alleged improprieties in the Coast Guard’s Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) program, MM&P presented testimony July 31 before the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, chaired by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). MM&P, the only union to present testimony at the hearing, was represented by attorney William Hewig of the law firm Kopelman and Paige. Hewig is a specialist in the Coast Guard.

“Merchant marine licenses and documents are livelihoods,” Hewig told the members of the subcommittee. “They are mortgage payments, college tuition payments and food on the table. It is absolutely essential to the integrity of the Coast Guard’s regulatory and supervisory powers over the industry that the ALJs who preside over this segment of Coast Guard authority be truly independent from any control, supervision or interference by the Coast Guard.”

Hewig made recommendations in his testimony about how to make the system more fair. Under the current system, for example, if a mariner requests an appeal of a decision made by an ALJ, the appeal is heard by the Coast Guard Commandant. Hewig advised the subcommittee to look instead to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ALJ system as an example. Under the system used for airplane pilots and dispatchers, an appeal of an FAA decision is heard by a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ALJ, not by an FAA ALJ. Successive appeals, if they occur, are heard by the full NTSB. The FAA program, Hewig said, “serves as a good example of a system that operates at an appropriate arms-length distance from the involved Federal agency, and does as much as possible to ensure that only those individuals having no direct relationship to or involvement with the charging agency will be hearing appeals and deciding the fate of the affected worker.”

The idea of having a different government agency hear charges brought by the Coast Guard was embraced by Cummings and by the subcommittee’s ranking member, Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio).


Civilian maritime professionals with years of experience should supplant Coast Guard officers in marine inspection roles, MM&P says. The union articulated its  position at an Aug. 2 hearing before the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. Port state control officers, marine inspectors, license examiners and accident investigators should all be seasoned maritime industry professionals with managerial experience, said Pilotage Vice President George A. Quick, who represented MM&P at the hearing.

Testifying for the Coast Guard was USCG Commandant Adm. Thad Allen, who admitted there were problems in the current system but insisted marine inspection should be kept within the USCG for purposes of efficiency and security. Allen said he hopes to address professional competency issues by establishing a “blended” workforce of marine inspectors consisting of civilians, USCG officers and USCG enlisted personnel.

Quick testified that maritime professionals could be brought into the marine inspection program in a number of ways. He said the first step could be a reorganization of the marine inspection and safety functions within the USCG. If that didn’t prove successful, the second step might be creation of a separate new federal Marine Safety Agency, he said.

Specifically, he suggested the Coast Guard hire young merchant marine officers, with 5-10 years of experience, as lieutenants and lieutenant commanders and rotate them through billets as general line officers, but with a view that eventually they would become the managers and policymakers in the marine inspection service. Quick rejected a suggestion that the USCG recruit marine safety inspectors directly from the maritime academies on the grounds that actual experience in the industry and at least a management level license were needed to effectively perform the required functions. 

Quick suggested that the field inspectors who interface with the industry on a daily basis be recruited from the ranks of younger retired merchant marine officers in the mid-40s to 50s age range. “They are specialists who would be respected by the industry,” he said. “They could fill roles where professional maritime competency and experience are needed to make informed decisions requiring professional judgment.”

Quick said that although he was encouraged by Allen’s openness to the idea of using civilian inspectors, the Commandant’s concept of a “blended” workforce should be viewed as a transitional phase only, during the five -10 years it would take to accomplish the complete restructuring of the USCG marine safety program.

Allen was given 30 days by Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, to come up with a reorganization plan for Congress to review.


The Coast Guard says that the main objective of the recent reorganization of its licensing program is to improve customer service. According to a memo recently released to constituents and the maritime trade press, the Coast Guard says that as a result of its decision to centralize licensing operations in West Virginia, mariners should experience a decrease in the amount of time it takes to process their applications for documents, along with a more consistent level of service. It says another goal of the reorganization is to use new technologies to add convenience, including for example the new 1-800-AskNMC Call Center.

“Direct and indirect calls for improving customer service, credential processing time and consistency of service have come from mariners, industry, schools and academies,” the agency says. “We have heard these calls… The Coast Guard is committed to drastically improving all aspects of the credentialing process. We certainly understand past and current frustration and we accept that our past performance does not warrant giving us the benefit of the doubt just yet. With the past and present in mind, we continue to focus on the future and strive for issuing credentials to competent mariners in the most efficient, customer-centric manner possible.”

The Coast Guard says it intends to: simplify application forms; introduce fill-able PDF applications; publish performance metrics of turnaround time; and introduce bulk application processes for academies, schools and industry groups. It is also now possible to check the status of a credential application online at (From the home page, select Missions > Merchant Mariners > Merchant Mariner Application Status).

A major factor behind the reorganization, the Coast Guard says, is that merchant mariner credentials will soon take the form of a passport. “The increased security and complex equipment required to produce these credentials is prohibitively expensive to duplicate at 17 locations,” according to the agency.

Mariners will use the existing regional examination centers (RECs) for face-to-face customer service. There, staff will help ensure applications are ready for evaluation. Mariners will prove their identity, get fingerprinted and take their tests at RECs. Once an application is accepted at a REC, it will be sent to the National Maritime Center (NMC) either electronically or via courier. NMC will evaluate all applications for safety and security, medical fitness and professional qualification. The NMC will communicate directly with the mariner for the remainder of the process. The Coast Guard expects some changes to this system will occur with the advent of the Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC), but promises to keep mariners informed.


MM&P International President Tim Brown and Secretary-Treasurer Glen Banks attended the quadrennial conventions of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) in July. The Atlantic Coast District (ACD) Convention was held July 16-18. It was followed by the International Convention, July 23 to July 26. 

At the ACD Convention, Steve Knott was elected ACD President and Dennis Daggett was elected ACD Secretary-Treasurer.  

At the International Convention, John Bowers declined to run for a sixth term as president and was elected president emeritus. Richard P. Hughes was elected president. Other newly elected officers are: Harold Daggett, executive vice president; Benny Holland, general vice president; Bobby Gleason, secretary-Treasurer; Gerald Owens, general organizer; John D. Baker Jr., assistant general organizer.

Richard P. Hughes is well known to MM&P members since he started his career in Baltimore at Locust Point. He is a former president of Checkers Local 953, a former international vice president of the ILA and a former secretary-treasurer of the Atlantic Coast District. He was serving as executive vice president at the time of his nomination and election as president of the ILA.

As officials and members, we wish Richie Hughes all the best as the new ILA president.


Woodside Natural Gas, Inc., of Santa Monica, Calif., is planning to register two liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels under the U.S. flag for its proposed Ocean Way LNG project 28 miles off the California coast. At a July 30 signing ceremony, Woodside promised Maritime Administrator Sean T. Connaughton that U.S. mariners will be employed aboard U.S.-flag LNG vessels, the first registered in the United States in nearly 10 years.

MM&P officials attended the ceremony and told the Woodside representatives of the exemplary training and qualifications of MM&P officers. According to Dave Boatner, MM&P Agent-Pacific Ports, “We also pointed out our experience in working with other organizations to promote LNG.” Boatner highlighted MM&P’s innovative agreement to recruit, train and supply U.S.-citizen mariners for service on up to nine LNG vessels for Suez LNG.

Woodside’s proposed Ocean Way facility will use foreign-flag ships to transfer LNG to U.S.-flag regasification vessels. The LNG will be converted into natural gas for injection into Southern California’s onshore pipeline system. Ninety American crewmembers will be employed on each of the vessels, the company said.  Woodside’s application for a license under the Deepwater Port Act to build, own and operate a LNG facility is under review. The application must be approved by the Maritime Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, the City of Los Angeles and the Governor of California.


The House of Representatives has unanimously approved a bill that would tighten oversight of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Deepwater program. The well-publicized problems afflicting the program are widely attributed to contract management failures. “When we are dealing with the tools used to protect our citizens and our ports, not to mention billions of taxpayer dollars, the errors we have witnessed thus far are unacceptable and simply cannot be repeated,”
said Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), who authored the bill, in an official statement. The bill includes provisions that would require the Coast Guard to make all technical decisions itself and use full and open competition for procurement contracts. It would also require that a civilian head up the USCG  acquisition program. The action now shifts to the Senate, where no companion legislation has yet been introduced.


An important amendment to Annex I of MARPOL took effect Aug. 1: regulation 12A, on oil fuel tank protection, sets forth requirements regarding the location of oil fuel tanks in all ships with an aggregate oil fuel capacity of 600 cubic meters and above and which are delivered on or after Aug. 1, 2010. The regulation also covers ships for which the building contract is placed on or after Aug. 1, 2007 or, in the absence of a contract, its keel is laid on or after Feb. 1, 2008. The regulation will therefore be immediately applicable to all ships on the drawing board with oil fuel tanks of 600 square meter capacity or more. In essence, the requirements oblige that fuel tanks be located inside the double hull to help prevent oil spillage in case of collision or grounding.


MM&P Great Lakes and Rivers Representative Charlie Malue reports that numerous jobs are available on the Great Lakes for licensed mates with pilotage, engineers, QMEDS and able-bodied seamen. Retirees are also encouraged to apply for these jobs. The rules of the MM&P Pension Plan allow pensioners to accept without penalty employment–other than Covered Employment–aboard vessels covered by collective bargaining agreements with MM&P membership groups, on condition that the employment is first approved by the Organization. Interested parties should call Charlie Malue at 216-776-1667 or e-mail him at


PLEASE DO NOT BE A “NO SHOW”!  If you are unable to attend your scheduled class, you can contact MITAGS 24 hours a day using voice mail, email or the manned switchboard.  A “NO SHOW” denies members on standby, and deprives MITAGS of revenue.  Take a minute of your time to cancel your course and support MITAGS’ continuing commitment to provide you with world class training and comfortable accommodations.    

CLASS OPENINGS: Between now and the end of September 2007, seats are available in the following courses:

ARPA – Automatic Radar Plotting Aids: 9/18

BST � Basic Safety Training: 8/13

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]
CMM-ADVWX � Advanced Meteorology: 8/27
CMM-CHS I � Advanced Cargo Handling (week 1): 9/17
CMM-CHS II � Advanced Cargo Handling (week 2): 9/24
CMM-SHS-ADV-II-Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 8/13, 8/27, 9/24

CONT PLNG � Contingency Planning: 9/21
CSE-AAES � Confined Space Entry, Atmospheric Analysis of Enclosed Spaces: 9/24

FF-BADV � Combined Basic & Advanced Fire Fighting: 8/13

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Trans Drug & Alcohol Testing: 9/15
MEDIA RSP � Media Response: 9/20

[MSC – Military Sealift Command]
MSC-SMA – Small Arms Training: 8/13
MSC-SMA-R – Small Arms Re-Qualification (2-day): 8/17 (must have proof of passing all 3 weapons within 2 years)

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 8/27, 9/17

SEC-VCF � Security Officer: Vessel, Company & Facility: 9/17
SHS-EMR5 � Emergency Shiphandling: 9/10

TPIC � Tankerman Person-In-Charge: 9/10
TTT � Train the Trainer (Instructor training): 9/17

Check the MITAGS website at for course descriptions associated with the course title abbreviations, and schedule revisions. For class availability or info on MITAGS courses and programs, contact admissions toll-free at 866-656-5568 or Email:


Summer – Fall 2007

Due to the high demand for this program, PMI has now scheduled another that is already close to full enrollment for its 2007-start date. See the PMI Web site at for more info on this new development.


SCHEDULE OF COURSES – (Course schedule also posted online at

August 2007
7-10    LFBT
8-10    EP
14-17  LFBT
13-17  AB
13-17  CONSTB
13-17  SHS EM5
13-17  ECDIS
13-17  TPIC
20-24 AB
20-31 SHS ADV
20-24 CHS BAS
27-31  BAFF
27-31  ENAV
27-31  MED PRO
27-8    GMDSS
27-29  CSO/SSO

September 2007
4-7      LFBT
4-8      WX BAS
4-8      TCNAV
10-14  BST
10-14  AB
10-14  MED PRO
10-14  TCNAV
10-14  SHS BAS
17-21  MED PRO
17-21  ARPA
17-21  SHS BAS
17-21  TCNAV
17-28  GMDSS
19-21  AFF
24-5    WKP
24-28 ROP
26-28 AFF

October 2007

1-3      BRM
1-5      ARPA
2-5      LFBT
2-5      AFF
8-19    GMDSS
8-12    SHS EM5
8-12    BST
8-12    AB
15-19  ECDIS           
15-19  MED PRO
15-26  MED PIC
17-19  SEC VCF
15-19  BAFF
22        FL
29-2    TPIC
29-9    SHS ADV

November 2007
5-16    SHS ADV
6-9      LFBT
13        ROR
12-16  BST
12-16  AB
13-15  SEC VCF
26-7    GMDSS
26-30 ROP
26-30 MED PRO
26-30 SHS BAS

December 2007
3-7      ARPA
3-7      SHS EM5
3-7      BAFF
3-14    CNAV
4-7      LFBT
11        ROR   
10-14  BST
10-14  AB
17-21  ENAV
17-19  SEC VCF
17-21  ARPA
17-21  TPIC
17-21  SHS BAS

For registration call Jennifer Fowler 888-893-7829


High-quality clothing embroidered with the NEW PMI logo! We can ship these items also! Acceptable forms of payment are check, credit card, money order and exact cash. Call Laura Bendixen at 888-893-7829 for prices and to order. If we don’t have your size, we’ll be glad to special order for you at no extra cost.


D O W N A S D A Q S & P 500
13,190.61 2,499.58 1,429.94
Fund Name & Trading Symbol
 Vanguard Asset Allocation Fund(VAARX)
 Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VFINX)
 Vanguard Extended Market Index Fund (VEXMX)
 Vanguard International Growth Fund (VWIGX)
 Vanguard Morgan Growth Fund (VMRGX)
 Vanguard Windsor II Fund (VWNFX)
 Vanguard GNMA Fund (VFIIX)
 Vanguard Growth Index Fund (VIGRX)
 Vanguard High Yield Corporate (VWEHX)
 Vanguard LifeStrategy Conservative Growth (VSCGX)
 Vanguard LifeStrategy Growth Fund (VASGX)
 Vanguard LifeStrategy Income Fund (VASIX)
 Vanguard LifeStrategy Moderate Growth (VSMGX)
 Vanguard Target Retirement 2005 (VTOVX)
 Vanguard Target Retirement 2015 (VTXVX)
 Vanguard Target Retirement 2025 (VTTVX)
 Vanguard Target Retirement 2035 (VTTHX)
 Vanguard Target Retirement 2045 (VTIVX)
 Vanguard Total Bond Index (VBMFX)
 Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSMX)
 Chase Growth Fund (CHASX)
 Fidelity Asset Manager (FASMX)
 Fidelity Growth and Income (FGRIX)
 Fidelity Intermediate bond Fund (FTHRX)
 Fidelity Magellan Fund (FMAGX)
 Fidelity Small Company Instl (FMACX)
 Fidelity Value Fund (FDVLX)
 Fidelity Equity-Income II Fund (FEQTX)
 Fidelity Blue Chip Growth Fund (FBGRX)
 Fidelity Diversified International Fund (FDIVX)
 Fidelity Dividend Growth Fund (FDGFX)
 Fidelity Freedom Income (FFFAX)
 Fidelity Freedom 2000 (FFFBX)
 Fidelity Freedom 2010 (FFFCX)
 Fidelity Freedom 2020 (FFFDX)
 Fidelity Freedom 2030 (FFFEX)
 Fidelity Freedom 2040 (FFFFX)
 Spartan US Equity Index Fund (FUSEX)
 Domini Social Equity Fund (DSEFX)



~ Reminders ~




All MM&P members are reminded that to sail aboard the T-AGS ships that MM&P-contracted Horizon Lines will be operating, you must have the required training certification and your certificates must be current in accordance with Military Sealift Command requirements. Members are also required to have had a MSC pre-employment physical and to possess Ship Security Clearance (see below).

The MSC Contract calls for all training certificates required for manning of these vessels to be no older than 5 years and that all STCW-95 courses be renewed every 5 years, or annually, as applicable.

Five-year renewable courses include, but are not limited to:

  • Advanced Fire Fighting
  • Basic Safety Training, and
  • Damage Control

Small Arms certificates must be less than 1 year old and MUST NOT expire during your tour of duty.

Members interested in applying for one of the positions onboard the T-AGS vessels are advised to make sure your certificates are up to date. If not, contact Mary Matlock or Diane Ford at MITAGS Admissions, email:, and schedule to take the course(s) needed.

Those MM&P members interested in obtaining more information and facts about the T-AGS Oceanographic Vessels are asked to email the Director of Special Projects requesting the “facts sheet”. It will be provided by return email in an Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

Members interested in employment on the T-AGS ships are asked to provide a 1-2 page resume. Please list the desired position you are seeking along with the certificates of training you possess and their dates. Upon receipt it will be forwarded to Horizon Lines and a confirmation sent back to the member. Vessel turnover commenced Oct.17, 2004. Positions for all ratings remain open.

The point of contact for sending a resume for employment on the Horizon Lines T-AGS Oceanographic Vessels is Richard Plant, MM&P’s Director of Special Projects. Send resumes in an email or as a Word file attachment to him at:, by fax to 410-850-0973 or by mail to:

Richard Plant, Director of Special Projects

700 Maritime Blvd.
Linthicum Heights, MD 21090


Members who want to sail for Horizon Lines on the T-AGS Oceanographic Survey vessels the company is set to begin operating for MSC must have Ship Security Clearance before going aboard.

Special software must be downloaded from the US Government’s Defense Security Service to complete the Security Clearance application. You must have an Internet connection and a Windows-based computer to retrieve the application and run the program.

Go to to download the software titled “EPSQ SUBJECT2_2”.

After the software is installed and the program is launched, select “Create” from the menu bar at the top of the screen. You will be required to enter your Social Security Number and a case-sensitive password. A window titled “Type of Form” will appear.

All Deck Officers should select the first button titled “Request for Security Clearance (SF86)” and then click “OK” to go to the next screen, “Type of Investigation”.

From the “Type of Investigation” screen:

  • Masters and Radio Officers should select the first button, “Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI)”.
  • All other Deck Officers (C/M, 2/M, 3/M) should click on the second button, “National Agency Check (NAC or NACLC)”.

After selecting the appropriate investigation type, click on “OK” to begin filling in the forms.


Horizon Lines requests all mariners seeking employment aboard the T-AGS Oceanographic vessels to take their MSC Physical at specially-designated facilities only after being advised to do so by the Company. This is to assure that all requirements of the MSC Physical are properly met.



Is it time to replace that car you’re driving? Vehicle loan rates are looking great at MM&P FCU.

Drive away in a new or used vehicle for a standard loan rate of:

4.75 percent for terms up to 24 months.
Standard loan rates for longer-term loans are:

5.00 percent for 25-48 months;
5.75 percent for 49-60 months ($20,000 minimum); and
6.25 percent for terms extending from 61-72 months ($25,000 minimum).
You can lower your loan rate even more — by 0.75 percent — by becoming a Preferred Borrower.

Are you paying a higher rate on your current vehicle loan at another institution? Consider refinancing your outside loan at the MM&P FCU and taking advantage of our lower loan rates.

MM&P FCU will finance up to 100 percent of your new vehicle loan, and up to 90 percent of NADA Book Value on a used vehicle. Maximum vehicle loan amount is $30,000.

MM&P FCU members can reduce the interest rate they pay on any new loan even further by becoming a preferred borrower. What is a preferred borrower? That’s a member who deposits at least 10 percent of the original loan amount into their MM&P FCU savings account and keeps those funds on deposit until the loan is paid in full. By doing this you save twice – first, your deposit works for you by earning our regular dividend savings rate, and second, you save money by reducing the interest rate on your loan by 0.75 percent.

Contact the MM&P FCU for full details on all loan programs by email to or call 1-800-382-7777 toll-free.




On Sept.30, Merck & Co. voluntarily withdrew Vioxx, a popular anti-inflammatory medication, from the market. As a result, individuals who are currently taking the drug have been asked to contact their health care professionals to discuss discontinuing use of Vioxx and possible alternative treatments.

MM&P Plans Administrator Valerie Verrecchio reports that, “We have gotten a number of calls from members who want to know what to do with their remaining supply of Vioxx and whether the Plan or NMHC will refund their co-pay for the unused portion.

“Unfortunately, neither NMHC nor the Plan was aware of the Merck decision prior to the public announcement on Sept.30. As of that date, all deliveries of Vioxx to our members was suspended in accordance with Merck’s announcement. Orders that had already been processed and were in transit could not be stopped.

“In regard to refunds, Merck has set up a website at where members can obtain information on how to recover refunds from Merck for the unused portion of medication. Members can also call following toll free number for information: 1-888-368-4699.

“We are sorry for any inc onvenience this may have caused to members currently taking this medication, however, the matter is out of the control of the Plans.”


MM&P Plans Administrator Valerie Verrecchio reports, “Good news! NMHC mail has finally gotten their website upgraded and functioning properly. I went in and tested it myself and found it to be quite user friendly.”

To use NMHC’s upgraded service, go to the NMHC Mail website at and click on “MEMBER LOGIN” at the bottom of the screen.

First-time and Registered users may bypass the welcome screen and go directly to the log-in page at

  • First-time users should then click on the link marked “NEW USER: REGISTER HERE”.
    This will take you to a page titled “MEMBER REGISTRATION” where you will need to enter demographic information and submit it by clicking on the
  • “CREATE ACCOUNT” button.

After creating your account, NMHC will email you a password to gain entry into your records. With your first sign-in, the NMHC system will prompt you to change the NMHC password to one of your own choosing.

Once you are registered at NMHC, you can check the status of open orders by logging-in to the system through the “MEMBER LOGIN” page and going into the “MAIL ORDER” menu. You can look up all prescriptions and get the price our members will pay for any medication. You can also view an order history of all of your medication transactions (both retail and mail) for the last 24 months, locate 24-hour pharmacies in your zip code region as well as access other helpful member education information.

“We hope this welcome improvement will assist our members. Although you cannot order refills on line if you don’t provide a credit or debit card number, you can phone in your refill. Once you register on the website, you will still have access to all of the other information including checking the status of your order once it is phoned in,” said Ms. Verrecchio.


The U.S. Coast Guard has announced an initiative to identify and collect the oral histories of its World War II veterans. Coast Guard WWII veterans, including SPARS and merchant mariners, are encouraged to record their histories online with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project at

Those veterans needing assistance in recording their stories can receive help from their local Coast Guard Auxiliary public affairs contact by leaving a message at 1-877-875-6296, a toll-free call.



LMS Ship Management, the company that manages vessels for Central Gulf, Sulphur Carriers and Waterman Steamship, wants to remind MM&P members that they offer their crewmembers a $75 reimbursement on the cost of purchasing certain slip-resistant shoes and boots for use aboard ship.

This offer has been in place for some time and LMS reports that “we have been pleased with the participation to date, but feel a reminder may be in order.” Their goal is for every crewmember to wear slip resistant footwear during working hours aboard their vessels.

The $75 reimbursement is available to each crewmember who provides LMS with an original receipt for the purchase of slip resistant footwear. In order for the crewmember to obtain the reimbursement, they must wear the shoes while on duty. Upon presentation of the receipt, the crewmember will be reimbursed on their pay voucher. The receipt will be retained by the Master and will remain aboard the vessel.

Vessels in the LMS footwear reimbursement program are:

  • Green Cove
  • Green Dale
  • Green Lake
  • Green Point
  • Atlantic Forest
  • Sulphur Enterprise
  • Energy Enterprise
  • SGT Matej C. Kocak
  • MAJ Stephen W. Pless, and
  • PFC Eugene A. Obregon

LMS notes that in order to receive reimbursement, crewmembers must purchase one of the following recommended brands:

  • WORX by Red Wing Slip Resistant Footwear
  • Caterpillar (must have steel toe & slip resistant sole)
  • Wolverine (must have steel toe and slip resistant sole)
  • Dunham Sierra Work Boot EH
  • Steel Toe Voyager
  • Georgia Boot 6- or 8-inch Safety Toe Boot
  • Dr. Marten’s (must have steel toe & slip resistant sole)


Of the boots listed above, Red Wing, Caterpillar and Wolverine boots are produced by US union labor.

Redwing’s Union-made products are: Red Wing shoes and boots, Red Wing motorcycle boots and Craftsman (Sears).

Wolverine World Wide manufactures boots under the Caterpillar brand using US union labor. (Other union made safety-shoe brands by Wolverine are the company’s Hy-Test, Durashock and Bates Military labels. The company’s Wolverine brand combat boots are also produced using US union labor.)

Most Dr. Marten’s shoes and boots are produced in the UK.

To find US, union-made products, visit the AFL-CIO Union Label Service and Trades website at and click on “Union Made Product Search”. To shop for union-made products online, go to



The Union Label recently went digital with a new website offering shoppers an array of union-made gifts, from clothing and chocolates to computers, games and greeting cards.

The website,, launches on the eve of the fall and winter holidays, when shoppers will spend an estimated $1 trillion on gifts, food, drinks and other seasonal items, explained Matt Bates, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO Union Label & Service Trades Department. The all-union shopping site, however, will be a year-round operation because that is what consumers demand, he added.

“Shoppers spent $56 billion in Internet sales last year, and on-line spending is doubling every two to three years. Everyday we receive Email and calls from people who want to support good jobs by buying union-made goods and services. The website will reach millions of people, 24 hours a day, with a quick convenient way to shop union,” Bates said.

“The public is ready for this. People have seen millions of good jobs disappear and they are looking for ways to take a stand and make a difference,” he added.

The AFL-CIO will target the peak of the holiday shopping season by promoting “Buy Union Week” Nov. 26 through Dec. 5. The newly-launched, all-union shopping site will be a cornerstone of that campaign. MM&P has a link to the Shop Union Site on this website under “Links and Other Sources”.

The MM&P 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 or to subscribe contact Lisa Rosenthal at The Wheelhouse Weekly is sent via Email to MM&P-contracted vessels at sea and is posted on our web page.

C 2006, International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots. All the material contained in this publication is protected by copyright. For permission to reprint text from the Weekly, contact the MM&P Communications Department: For changes of address, contact Lisa Rosenthal at