Wheelhouse Weekly – August 17, 2001

August 17th 2001


Bridging the Information Gap With E-News You Can Use

Volume 5. . . . . Number 33. . . August 17, 2001





November 1-2 has been set for the Offshore Membership Group Shipping Rules Committee to meet at MM&P Headquarters in Linthicum Heights, MD. Members wishing to provide input or who have interest in committee service should contact their area Offshore Membership Group vice president. Atlantic: Richard May at; Gulf: Robert Groh at; and Pacific: Donald Marcus at

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Canadian authorities acting on behalf of the US charged the captain of a Russian-owned vessel with involuntary manslaughter on Wednesday in connection with the fatal collision of the ship and a US fishing trawler last week. The operator of the Russian tanker suspected in the sinking of the trawler protested what it called the “illegal detention and arrest” of the crew.

Canadian and US authorities detained the crew of the VIRGO, owned and operated by the Primorsk Shipping Corp. (Prisco), on Aug. 7 after the vessel was suspected of colliding with the trawler STARBOUND in fog 130 miles off Cape Ann, Massachusetts on Aug. 5.

The only survivor of the 83-ft. steel-hulled fishing vessel was its captain, Joseph Marcantonio of Gloucester, Mass. The USCG recovered the body of crewman James Sanfillippo, of Thomaston, Maine. Two others, Mark Doughty of Yarmouth, Maine, and Thomas Fronterio of Gloucester were presumed drowned.

Marcantonio made it to a self-inflating liferaft that surfaced after the trawler went down. He was picked up by another fishing boat after a few hours.

Canadian investigators, together with the USCG and FBI agents, are holding most of the Russian crew under armed guard at a hotel in Newfoundland while the investigation continues. The shipping company claims its own investigation of the exact route of the tanker showed the 541-foot vessel was not passing through the area where the trawler sank. The VIRGO, sailing under the flag-of-convenience Cypriot registry, was en route from Boston to Come-By-Chance, Newfoundland on the night of the collision.

Canadian authorities said they were acting on a US arrest warrant, raising the strong possibility that the VIRGO’s captain and two crew members would be extradited to the US to face trial. The three men were charged with involuntary manslaughter, misconduct and aiding and abetting.

The ship came under suspicion after the STARBOUND was hit by an unidentified ship which immediately left the scene without rendering any assistance. The USCG is leading the probe and two US officials flew to Newfoundland examine the VIRGO, one of a dozen or so vessels being examined as part of the investigation.

Investigators have spent days interviewing the ship’s captain and crew; examining ship records; and taking paint samples from the tanker’s hull. According to published reports, the paint samples are to be matched with paint from the sister ship of the 83-foot STARBOUND to determine if they are likely to have come from a collision.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The Welland Canal, a major marine trade link between Canada and the US, reopened to traffic late Mon., Aug.13, two days after a collision between a grain ship and drawbridge shut down traffic on the St. Lawrence Seaway-Great Lakes system.

The canal connects Lakes Ontario and Erie and offers a safe detour around Niagara Falls, 10 miles away. It had been closed since late Saturday when the 730-ft. Canadian grain carrier WINDOC was passing under the drawbridge when it suddenly started to lower, smashing into the ship. The ship’s smokestack and wheelhouse were sheared off in the accident causing the vessel to burst into flames.

Two of the 22 crew aboard the WINDOC were treated for minor injuries. The vessel was carrying 26,000 metric tons of wheat grain from Thunder Bay, at the head of Lake Superior, to ports on the lower St. Lawrence River.

The ship burned well into Sunday, while emergency units on both sides of the canal poured water on the flames. Seaway crews spent Monday clearing debris from the bridge and the WINDOC, including parts of its exhaust boiler, from the bottom of the canal. Damage to the bridge and the ship is expected to run into the millions of dollars.

The Allenburg Bridge was raised at about 2030 hrs Monday, and ships began moving through the Canal at about 2230 hrs. About 28 ships were reportedly waiting to transit the waterway at that time.

The bridge will be left in the open position for the remainder of the shipping season, with repairs expected to be made during the winter.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The Journal of Commerce reports that the heat wave baking parts of the US and Canada has lowered water levels in the St. Lawrence Seaway-Great Lakes system to near-minimum levels considered safe for passage of cargo vessels.

Canadian authorities have released additional water into the system to accommodate electricity demand in New York, Ontario and Quebec, and to raise the water level at the Port of Montreal, which is running nearly a foot below the safe depth for large cargo ships. “We had to let extra water out of Lake Ontario into the Seaway on Tuesday to raise the water level in the Port of Montreal. Montreal’s levels are 11.8 inches below chart datum, and “more than a meter below average,” a spokesperson said.

All of the Great Lakes are below their long-term average levels of water but all are above their chart datum, the heights above sea level deemed safe for all vessels to pass.

“The upper St. Mary’s River is still the choke point,” said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers Association in Cleveland. “A good load now in the head of the lakes trade is 64,000 tons. In 1997, when water levels were high, it was 70,000 tons. So we are light-loading by 6,000 tons a trip. That’s a lot of cargo.”

US-flag shipping on the Lakes is in a slump, with the iron ore trade accounting for most of a 7.8 percent decrease in total tonnage through June. Iron ore tonnage itself was down 11.7 percent, due to weakness in US steel production.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



As the Atlantic hurricane season heats up, the NOAA/National Weather Service is conducting an important survey of the various marine forecast services it offers to mariners.

Those include: Coastal Waters Forecast; Offshore Forecast; High seas Forecast; Marine Information Messages; NAVTEX Forecast; Surface analysis; 500 mb analysis; Sea State Analysis; Surface forecasts – 24/48/96 hour; 500 mb forecasts – 24/36/48/96 hour; Wind/wave forecasts – 24/48/96 hour; Period/direction forecasts – 48/96 hour; Ice Analyses (Alaska); Ice Forecasts (5 Day) (AK); 36 hour surface forecast (AK); Surface forecasts 3/4/5 day (AK); Sea Surf Temp Analyses (AK); and Sea Surf Temp Analyses (Hawaii).

The feedback from those using NWS products is extremely important as it keeps NOAA aware of changing requirements and lets them know how well their services are being received. This survey will help the NWS assess those services from the merchant mariner’s perspective.

To receive a copy of the survey form, MM&P members can Email the following address:

Copies of the form are also available by US mail from:

Marine Prediction Center Attn: Lee Chesneau 5200 Auth Rd, Room 410 Camp Springs, MD 20746

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The US Maritime Administration is looking for crewmembers who have sailed on the Liberty Ship WILLIAM ELLERY from 1942 (when she was built) until 1945 (when she was torpedoed). MARAD is having a commemorative ceremony for the opening of the Pacific Wing of the New Orleans D-Day Museum scheduled for Dec. 6 or 7, 2001.

The vessel was involved in the assault on Okinawa. The shipping agent was Pope and Talbot out of San Francisco, CA.

Members are urged to contact Jeanne Barile from MARAD at Email: or voice: 202-366-5730 with any info regarding WILLIAM ELLERY crewmembers.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The MM&P bulletin board has been established and it is ready for use. Since the bulletin board is only for members, it is available only by subscription. Use of the bulletin board is subject to terms of use that will be posted to the bulletin board, which will be provided to members at the time they sign up or upon request of any member prior to signing up.

After registering, any member is free to post to this board as long as they take full responsibility for any content that they post. Any foul or abusive language may prevent members from future participation on the site.

To be able to sign-on or for additional info, members should send an Email to John Gorman, MM&P Comptroller, who is administering the board. His Email address is: The following info is required to be provided in order to be provided access information: Full name; SS Number; Date of birth; and Email address.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Miami/Port Everglades

MM&P’s Miami/Port Everglades union hall is also relocating effective September 1. The new address will be:

540 McNab Rd. – Suite B Pompano Beach, FL 33060-9354

The new office phone number is 954-946-7883; the fax number is 954-946-8283.

For additional information, contact Offshore Gulf Ports VP Capt. Robert Groh at or Miami/Port Everglades Rep. Duane Koran at

Great Lakes & Rivers Maritime Region

Also effective September 1, the MM&P Great Lakes & Rivers Membership Group will be relocating. The new office address will be:

1250 Old River Rd. Cleveland, OH 44113

The new phone number is 216-774-1667 and the new fax number is 216-774-1668.

For further info, contact GL&R’s Vice President Bill Rabatsky at Email:; phone: 216-228-8111.

Members are encouraged to visit after the moves.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Openings in classes through November

  • 8/27-31: BST, ROP
  • 9/10-14: MED-FIRST, COMP-APS, BST
  • 9/17-20: SMA
  • 9/17-21: COMP-NET, TPIC
  • 10/1-5: BRM, FF-ADV, ECDIS
  • 10/1-12: GMDSS
  • 10/8-12: ARPA
  • 10/22-25: SMA
  • 10/22-26: SHS-INT II, COMP-NET
  • 10/22-11/02: MED-PIC
  • 10/29-11/2: FF-ADV, BRM, WX-HWA
  • 11/5-7: BRMP
  • 11/5-9: ROP
  • 11/5-16: GMDSS
  • 11/12-16: FF-ADV, BST, BRM, VPM
  • 11/12-15: SMA
  • 11/26-12/7: GMDSS
  • 11/26-30: BST, BRM, TPIC, HAZ

Original Third Mate Program

The trial program conducted this past spring at MITAGS was not effective. Upon evaluation, MITAGS has decided that the best way to proceed is with a program supporting the STCW-95 requirements for Officer in Charge of a Navigational Watch, the likely framework for future deck license applicants. MITAGS staff members are working closely with the Coast Guard to develop the structure necessary to support implementation of the ‘OIC’ requirements and, once procedures have been finalized, the original license program will be revisited. MITAGS does not envision scheduling a specific program for original third mates until mid-2002 at the earliest.

Schedule Info

Schedule through December 2001 is being maintained on the website and 2002 schedule through June will be on the site soon. Hard copies of the January-June 2002 schedule are being mailed to the halls. Check the MITAGS website at: for up-to-date info. For additional course info, contact Mary Matlock at voice: 443-989-3226 or Email:

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Openings in classes through December

  • 8/20-24: ARPA
  • 8/27-31: TPIC
  • 9/3-7: ARPA, BRM
  • 9/10-14: BRM, GMDSS
  • 9/17-21: ARPA, FF, AFF
  • 9/24-28: BRM, GMDSS
  • 10/8-12: ARPA, BRM
  • 10/15-19: ARPA
  • 10/22-26: ECDIS
  • 10/29-11/2: BRM
  • 11/5-99: ARPA
  • 12/3-7: ARPA
  • 12/10-14: ARPA, GMDSS, BRM
  • 12/17-21:ARPA,BRM

For more info on courses or PMI, visit their website at  

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly

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 contact John Peige at The Wheelhouse Weekly is sent via Email to MM&P-contracted vessels at sea, broadcast worldwide via FEC marine telex andis posted on our web page under “News” at:

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