Wheelhouse Weekly – December 08, 2006

December 8th 2006


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

Volume 10 . . . . . Number 49. . . . December 8, 2006




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.



MM&P has learned that third mates and chief mates who have already started their license upgrade application process and who are actually sitting for their exams before Feb. 1, 2007 will be allowed to sit for only the raise-in-grade (RIG) exam to second mate or to master. The same narrow window of opportunity applies to third assistant engineers seeking an upgrade to second assistant engineer, and to first assistant engineers looking to upgrade to chief.

Information on the rapidly disappearing opportunity to avoid USCG National Maritime Center’s new, more stringent requirements (see below) came to MM&P Special Projects Director Richard Plant through unofficial channels. It applies exclusively to mariners who begin sitting for their RIG exams before Feb. 1. In other words, it does not apply to those who have initiated the application process only and are not actually sitting for the exams. Mariners not sitting for the RIG exam before Feb. 1, as well as those who fail their exams, will fall under the new requirements outlined below.

Mariners who get in under the wire will not be required to take the combined exams contemplated under USCG’s as yet unfinalized new requirements. Mariners who sit for their exams before Feb. 1 will have three months in which to finish and pass them.

According to anonymous sources, the proposed changes to NMC policy, slated to take effect Feb. 1, 2007, are currently under review by USCG legal counsel. Once finalized and approved, probably by mid-January, they will be posted on the NMC website.

Under the proposed changes, mariners who intend to raise their license to second mate (second assistant engineer) or master (chief engineer) and who start taking the exams after Feb. 1 will be required to:

1. Take the combined exams for third mate/second mate (third assistant engineer/second assistant engineer) or chief mate/master (first assistant/chief engineer).

2. As third mates (third assistant engineers), be signed off on the STCW-95 competencies that allow mariners to sit for the original thirds exam as described in the STCW-95 manual.

3. As chief mates and first assistant engineers, take the required management level courses before sitting for the combined exams. For a deck officer, the management level courses are expected to entail about 10-12 weeks of training. For an engineering officer, they are expected to entail about six weeks of training.

Signing off on the STCW-95 competencies and participation in the management level courses will be a prerequisite to sitting for the combined license exams.

MM&P will continue to keep the membership informed about these important licensing changes. In announcing the changes, NMC says it wants to underline the fact that it has given mariners a five-year grace period in which to raise their licenses before the new policies go into effect.



The following is the complete schedule of MM&P Offshore Port Holiday Parties:

East Coast holiday party schedule is as follows:

  • Boston: Was held on December 7th.
  • New York/New Jersey, December 13th at 1230 hrs at the Union Hall 26 Journal Sq. Suite 1502 Jersey City, NJ
  • San Juan: December 14th after job call at Levi’s on Ponce De Leon Ave.
  • Norfolk: December 15th at noon at the Union Hall on 39th St. in Norfolk.

    Gulf Port Holiday Party schedule is as follows:

  • New Orleans: December 13th noon at the Hall
  • Houston: December 14th noon at the Hall
  • Jacksonville: December 15th noon at the Hall
  • Port Everglades/Miami: December 20th at 1100 at the Hall

    West Coast Holiday Party schedule is as follows:

  • San Francisco: Thursday Dec 14th at 1230 hrs in the SUP Library
  • Los Angeles/Long Beach: Friday Dec 15th at 1200 hrs in the LA/LB Hall
  • Seattle: Tuesday Dec 19th at 1230 hrs in the Hall
  • Honolulu: Sunday, December 17th from 1000 to 1400 hrs at the Honolulu Seaman’s Home.

    Call any of the respective Halls for info or directions.


    Navy Vice Adm. Ann E. Rondeau was recently confirmed by the Senate to become US Transportation Command’s next deputy commander. Rondeau currently serves as director, Navy Staff, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Pentagon, Washington, DC.

    A native of San Antonio, Texas, Rondeau graduated with a degree in History in 1973 from Eisenhower College, where she was selected by the Board of Trustees as “Most Distinguished Graduate” and received the Groben Award for Leadership. Commissioned in 1974 through Officer Candidate School, her assignments include Office of the Secretary of Defense as Assistant for Policy Analysis; Special Assistant to the Attorney General for National Security Affairs as a White House Fellow; Military Assistant to the Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; and Deputy Chief of Staff for Shore Installations for Commander in Chief, US Pacific Fleet Staff. She assumed her current post as director, Navy Staff in August 2005.

    Rondeau is surface warfare qualified, trained on both Military Sealift Command Merchant Marine vessels and US Navy combatants. She holds a Master’s degree in Political Science from Georgetown University and has qualifications in political-military affairs, strategy and planning, operations analysis, and military transportation, and is a permanent member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Her awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Meritorious Service Medal, and the Navy Commendation Medal.


    USNS ALAN SHEPARD, the US Navy’s newest ship in the LEWIS AND CLARK class of underway replenishment ships, was christened Dec. 6th during a ceremony at General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company in San Diego, CA. She will be crewed by Licensed Deck Officers represented by MM&P’s Government Employees’ Membership Group. The ship is named after Navy Rear Adm. Alan B. Shepard, Jr. Like the famous explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, for whom the first ship of the class was named, Shepard bravely volunteered to explore the unknown, and became the first American in space.

    “(This is) a good ship, named after a good man by a grateful nation,” said John H. Sununu, former governor of New Hampshire, as he delivered the ceremony’s principal address. Laura Churchley, Shepard’s eldest daughter, served as sponsor for the ship. The launching ceremony commenced in the time-honored Navy tradition when Churchley broke a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen the ship “Alan Shepard.” About 600 people turned out for the ceremony.

    The USNS Alan Shepard is the third of the Navy’s T-AKE 1 class. These combat logistics force vessels are intended to replace the T-AE 26 KILAUEA class ammunition ships, T-AFS 1 MARS class combat stores ships and, when operating with T-AO 187 HENRY J. KAISER-Class oiler ships, the AOE 1 SACRAMENTO class fast combat support ships. Designed to operate independently for extended periods at sea, the ship will transfer ammunition, food, limited quantities of fuel, repair parts, ship store items and expendable supplies and material to US, NATO and other allied ships while at sea.

    USNS ALAN SHEPARD is 689 feet long, has an overall beam of 106 feet, a draft of 30 feet and displaces approximately 42,000 tons. Powered by a single-shaft diesel-electric propulsion system, the ship can reach a speed of 20 knots. It can also support two military logistics helicopters to conduct vertical replenishments. The ship is expected to be delivered to the Military Sealift Command in 2007 following a series of tests and sea trials.


    The US Coast Guard issued a notice advising owners, operators and masters of US vessels of a change in the e-mail address that should be utilized in the ship security alert system (SSAS). The old e-mail address will remain viable until May 2007, but the new e-mail address is already in operation. The SSAS on most ships is programmed to immediately upon activation send an e-mail to the flag administration. It is therefore important that the e-mail address utilized in the device be correct. The new e-mail address should also be reflected in the Vessel Security Plan (VSP).


    The US Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued a rule codifying the agency’s prior policy regarding drug and alcohol testing for ferry crewmembers. The policy, now in regulatory form, provides that compliance with US Coast Guard drug and alcohol testing requirements will be deemed compliance with FTA drug and alcohol testing requirements, with one exception. Ferryboat operators will remain subject to the FTA random alcohol testing requirement because the Coast Guard does not have a similar requirement. The rule comes into effect on January 2, 2007.


    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report finding that management practices at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have progressed, but that there is still room for improvement. Among other things, the report recommends that the agency develop risk-based criteria for determining which accidents to investigate.


    The US Coast Guard issued a Marine Safety Alert advising owners and operators of steam-propelled ships to have their engineering staffs assess the structural integrity of their boiler casings; paying particular attention to support structure interfaces in the steam drum, front-to-side casing attachments, and upper-to-lower casing transitions. It is also recommended that a thorough review of previous casing repairs be conducted to identify signs of diminished structural integrity. A bulk cargo vessel recently suffered a boiler tube rupture resulting in a boiler casing failure that injured two crewmembers.


    The Department of Transportation issued a listing the top US international freight gateways for 2005 based on value. Among the seaports, the top ones (in descending order) were Los Angeles, New York/New Jersey, Long Beach, Houston, Charleston, Norfolk, Baltimore, Seattle, and Tacoma.


    The Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Energy (DOE) announced earlier this week the first phase of the Secure Freight Initiative. This is an unprecedented effort to build upon existing port security measures by enhancing the federal government’s ability to scan containers for nuclear and radiological materials overseas and to better assess the risk of inbound containers.

    “Our highest priority and greatest sense of urgency has to be aimed at preventing a nuclear weapon or dirty bomb attack against the homeland,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. “This initiative advances a comprehensive strategy to secure the global supply chain and cut off any possibility of exploitation by terrorists. I appreciate the commitment of our international allies in sharing more information and harmonizing our risk reduction efforts.”

    “Improving port security worldwide helps to improve our security right here at home. Through the Secure Freight partnership with the Department of Homeland Security, we will be able to screen more cargo than ever before using the advanced detection technology, and be in a better position to prevent nuclear materials or devices from being smuggled into the United States or partner countries,” Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said.

    The initial phase of Secure Freight involves the deployment of a combination of existing technology and proven nuclear detection devices to six foreign ports: Port Qasim in Pakistan; Puerto Cortes in Honduras; Southampton in the United Kingdom; Port Salalah in Oman; Port of Singapore; and the Gamman Terminal at Port Busan in Korea.


    In a surprising decision announced last week, the US Coast Guard has idled 8 of its 10 Key West-based patrol vessels because of ongoing structural and engine problems. That’s 80% of its patrol cutters that provide homeland security and drug interdiction enforcement in the Florida Straits. USCG Commandant Admiral Thad Allen made the announcement and also traveled to Florida to personally deliver the news to the crews. In a press statement Allen said, “I have suspended the operation of all eight 123-foot cutters to ensure the continued safety of our crews as we assess additional structural damage recently discovered aboard this class of cutter.”

    The 17-year old cutters were renovated at a cost of about $100 million in 2004, but soon began to show chronic hull cracking and some engine difficulties. The 110-foot cutters were lengthened to 123 feet, and other equipment was added to enhance their mission capabilities, providing the Coast Guard with a more modern fleet while a new class of patrol vessels were designed and built. Plans to convert all 49 of the coast guard’s 110-foot cutter fleet were then suspended. The move to idle the cutters represents a potentially serious setback for the Coast Guard and its ongoing $24 billion Deepwater modernization program.

    The USCG says that that the need for a strong presence in the Straits of Florida will always be there and that other resources could be redeployed to the area if necessary. The eight cutters; ATTY, MANITOU, METOMPKIN, MONHEGAN, NUNIVAK, PADRE and VASHON are now moored alongside one another at their USCG Key West base. USCG officials gave no timetable if or when the cutters could return to service.


    The MarEx e-newsletter reports that a decision to shift busy shipping lanes off the coast of Massachusetts for the purpose of protecting the endangered North Atlantic right whales is being met with some opposition. The move, if approved, could eliminate up to 80% of whale strikes off the coast of New England. The International Maritime Organization (IMO), a London-based arm of the UN, is expected to approve the change in traffic patterns shortly.

    In Massachusetts, some shipping experts and mariners are calling the move ill-advised and say that they were not consulted or given adequate time to voice their opposition to the move. Capt. Gregg Farmer is the President of the Boston Harbor Pilots Association LLC and one of 10 such pilots commissioned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to guide deep draft vessels in and out of the port of Boston. While Farmer is sympathetic to the plight of the right whale, he also says that the process used to arrive at the proposed solution was flawed. “No mariner wants to hurt a right whale. But the current option on the table was never presented to the stakeholders to be properly vetted before being submitted to the IMO.”

    Farmer says that the proposed shift of the shipping lanes creates a hazardous situation for ocean traffic because it narrows the traffic lanes by one mile. In addition, it forces traffic to the south boundary of the Boston precautionary area, and also channels traffic departing Boston Harbor directly into a head-on situation with less maneuverable barge and tug traffic leaving the Cape Cod Canal. This, he says, will increase the chance for vessel collisions, especially for foreign mariners who are unfamiliar with the local waters. While the proposed, first ever shift of shipping lanes in US waters for the purpose of protecting an endangered species will probably save the lives of many whales, it will also have some far-reaching political, commercial and marine safety implications for Massachusetts.


    A recent study conducted by ICC’s international anti-piracy agency, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), notes that reported piracy attacks worldwide are on the decline but there have been more attacks on containerships so far this year. Statistics documented in the latest edition of the Kuala Lumpur-based organization’s report “Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships” found that the number of attacks through to the end of the 3rd quarter 2006 decreased to 174. This is 31 less attacks than the 205 that occurred in the first three quarters of 2005. Of the 174 total attacks listed in the report, vessels were boarded in 113 cases and 11 ships were hijacked. 163 hostages were taken, 20 crewmembers were kidnapped, and six were killed.

    Although the number of attacks worldwide has declined, piracy continues to plague hotspots such as Bangladesh, Nigeria and Somalia. Bangladesh recorded an alarmingly high 33 incidents – 22 actual and 11 attempted. The majority of these attacks occurred in and around the port of Chittagong, making it the world’s most dangerous port.

    Nigerian waters also remain extremely dangerous. Despite a relatively small number of attacks, six actual and three attempted, three of these attacks led to 17 crew members being kidnapped and held for ransom. Nigerian attacks had great potential for violence, with pirates recorded as carrying guns, knives or both in most instances. A growing trend in Nigeria is the large number of pirates involved in attacks. In one instance, 40 people attacked a vessel from three canoes and kidnapped four crewmembers. In another, a ship was attacked by 23 pirates armed with knives.

    Eight attacks were reported off the eastern coast of Somalia where pirates armed with guns and grenades attacked ships and fired upon them. Although there have been no recent incidents, the eastern north-eastern coasts of Somalia continue to be high-risk areas for hijackings. IMB warns that ships not making scheduled calls to ports in these areas should stay at least 75 miles or as far away as practical from the coast.


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

    JUST ADDED: MED-PIC (Medical Person-In-Charge): 2/12/07

    AIS – Automatic Identification System: 12/14, 3/23
    ARPA – Automatic Radar Plotting Aids: 1/16, 2/6, 3/6

    BRM Bridge Resource Management: 1/22, 2/19, 3/26
    BRMP – Bridge Resource Mangement for Pilots: 1/31
    BST – Basic Safety Training: 2/5, 3/12

    [CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]
    CMM-ADVWX – Advanced Meteorology: 1/22
    CMM-ADVSTB – 1/29
    CMM-CHS I – Advanced Cargo Handling (week 1): 2/12
    CMM-CHS II – Advanced Cargo Handling (week 2): 2/5
    CMM-ECDIS – Electronic Chart and Display Information System: 3/19
    CMM-MPP – Marine Propulsion Plants: 2/19
    CMM-SHMGT-I – Ship Management II (week 1): 12/11, 2/26
    CMM-SHMGT-II – Ship Management II (week 2): 3/5
    Available on a “Stand-By Basis Only”: CMM-SHS-ADV-I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 1/8, 2/5, 3/12
    Available on a “Stand-By Basis Only”: CMM-SHS-ADV-II – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 1/15, 2/12, 3/19
    CMM-VPEN – Voyage Planning and Electronic Navigation: 3/26
    CMM-WKP – Advanced Watchkeeping: 3/12

    CONT-PLNG – Contingency Planning: 12/15, 1/26

    CSE-AASE – Confined Space Entry: 1/15

    FF-BADV – Combined Basic and Advanced Fire Fighting: 2/5, 3/12

    HAZ-Hazardous Materials (5-day): 1/8, 2/12

    LEG Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 1/31

    MEDIA-RSP – Media Response: 1/25, 3/22

    MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Trans Drug & Alcohol Testing: 1/13, 2/17, 3/3
    MED-PIC – Medical Person In Charge: 1/8, 2/12, 2/26
    MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 1/8, 2/12, 2/26

    [MSC – Military Sealift Command]
    MSC-CBRD-1 (Chemical Biological Radiological Defense Orientation): 1/20, 3/30
    MSC-DC (Damage Control): 1/18, 3/22
    MSC-SMA – Small Arms Training: 3/26
    MSC-SMA-R – Small Arms Re-Qualification (2-day): 3/30 (must have proof of passing all 3 weapons within 2 years)

    ROP-5 – Radar Observer Original and Renewal (5-day): 1/29, 3/26
    ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 1/15, 2/5, 3/5

    SEC-OFF-VCF – Security Officer, Vessel, Company & Facility: 12/11, 1/22, 3/19
    SHS-BAS – Basic Shiphandling: 1/22, 2/19, 3/26
    SHS-EMR- Emergency Shiphandling: 2/26
    SHS-EMR- BRMP-3- Emergency Shiphandling & Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 3/19
    TPIC-DL – Tanker Person-In-Charge, Dangerous Liquids: 2/12

    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:


    Fall and Winter: 2006-2007

    MATE 500/1600 TONS Program Begins January 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

    December 2007
    12/4-8 ARPA
    12/4-15 Shiphandling – Advanced
    12/11-13 Security Officer – Vessel, Company, and Facility
    12/11-22 GMDSS
    12/18-22 ECDIS
    12/18-22 ARPA
    12/18-22 Medical First Aid Provider
    12/19 Radar Recertification

    January 2007
    1/2 Mate Program Begins/Orientation
    1/8-1/26 Ratings Forming Part of a Navigational Watch
    1/22-1/26 Terrestrial and Coastal Navigation
    1/22-1/26 Tankerman Person in Charge
    1/22-1/26 Emergency Shiphandling
    1/29-2/2 Medical First Aid Provider
    1/29-2/2 Radar Observer Unlimited
    1/29-2/9 Medical Person in Charge
    1/29-2/9 GMDSS

    For registration call Jennifer Fowler 888-893-7829


    High quality with embroidered PMI logo.
    Navy or Khaki Hats : $16 / includes tax
    Button Down Long Sleeve Dress Shirts
    Blue or Khaki: $38 / includes tax
    Pocket t-shirts with Logo: $12 / includes tax
    15oz. Cobalt Blue Ceramic Mug: $8 / includes tax

    Call DeeDee Lazik 206-838-8328 or e-mail



     D O W  N A S D A Q  S & P 500
    12,280.44 +53.71 for the week 2,427.69 -4.54 for the week 1,407.51 +18.90 for the week
    Fund Name & Trading Symbol
     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 High Yield Corporate Fund (VWEHX)
     Vanguard Total Bond Index (VBMFX)
     Chase Growth Fund (CHASX)
     Fidelity Asset Manager (FASMX)
     Fidelity Growth and Income (FGRIX)
     Fidelity Magellan Fund (FMAGX)
     Fidelity Small Company Instl (FMACX)
     Fidelity Value Fund (FDVLX)
     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 John Peige 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 John Peige at