Wheelhouse Weekly – December 12, 2002

December 12th 2002


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

Volume 6 . . . . . Number 50. . . . . December 12, 2002






Reports published earlier this week quote Capt. William Schubert, head of the US Maritime Administration, saying that he is confident that a replacement for the Maritime Security Program is likely to be approved, though it’s unclear when that will take place.

Schubert also said MarAd is ready to deploy its strategic sealift of 71 ships, 51 of which can be sailed on as little as four or five days’ notice, if needed by the military to support a war on Iraq.

The MSP program expires on September 30, 2005, but many in the maritime industry have hoped that a replacement program could be introduced and passed before that date. MSP provides funding of $2.1 million per ship per year for 47 US-flag vessels whose owners agree to make them available to the military in time of war. MM&P contracts cover 37 of the 47 vessels in the maritime security fleet.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Ambulances, stretchers, and boxes containing everything from bandages to medication — hardly an usual sight in any American hospital. But, this hospital is stored in caves along the Norwegian fjords.

The ‘fleet’ hospital is a US Naval mobile unit ready to deploy anywhere in a matter of days, capable of treating injured sailors and marines in the event of a crisis.

The US Navy’s Fleet Hospital Program has stored everything required for a 500-bed surgical hospital in the climate-controlled ‘Bjugn’ caves since the late 1980s.

Last month, Central Gulf Lines’ Military Sealift Command container ship MV GREEN WAVE loaded the fleet hospital and returned it to the US, as part of a standard equipment rotation formally called exercise “Trident Arch X.”

The operation took place at the port of Hommelvik in central Norway. The exercise also provides the Navy’s reserve cargo handling battalions with valuable ‘hands-on’ experience, by performing the loading of the ship. This year, a team of reservists from the South Carolina-based Navy Cargo Handling Battalion Four handled the cargo.

Ambulances, fire and diesel trucks, ambulatory busses, trailers, shipping containers, even portable laundry units — more than a million pounds in all — made the 10-mile journey from the caves to Hommelvik, where it was loaded aboard GREEN WAVE. The vessel is 507-feet long and has a beam of 69-ft. The MSC credited the MM&P’s LDOs and the crew of GREEN WAVE for a “text book” loading operation.

The US Navy has used the caves since the tail-end of the Cold War. Norway, with its close proximity to the then-Soviet Union, was the perfect location to store supplies and equipment, which need to be deployed quickly.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach remain largely exposed to attacks by terrorists that could lead to mass casualties or “an ecological disaster of biblical proportions,” a report to the federal government shows.

According to a story in the Orange Country Register by Aldrin Brown, “the vulnerabilities are detailed publicly for the first time in a grant request submitted this year by the nation’s largest cargo port complex. Port officials sought more than $70 million in federal security funds. About $6 million was received.

Port of Long Beach officials take a dim view of the state of security at the complex, which handles 43 percent of the nation’s container traffic. Among the problems:

  • A lack of patrol boats and law enforcement officers leaves many critical port facilities largely unprotected from a waterborne attack.
  • Hazardous chemicals stored in above-ground containers near shore could be targeted by terrorists, creating toxic clouds that would injure or kill hundreds of thousands of people living downwind.
  • The port has no efficient system for screening cargo containers that enter the port from the land-side, leaving the complex vulnerable to weapons of mass destruction loaded inside the US.
  • A shortage of ground police patrols and surveillance cameras allows trespassers to wander around sensitive port facilities with little scrutiny.
  • No system exists for providing evacuation information in the event of a terrorist attack, and officials fear lives could be lost as scores of visitors and employees scramble to escape the sprawling complex.

Some security experts believe US ports have been shortchanged in the latest wave of federal spending aimed at thwarting terrorist attacks. Thus far, about $217 million in federal money has been allocated to increase port security nationwide. By comparison, more than $1.2 billion has been approved for aviation security.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The new 24-hour rule requiring advance cargo manifests from sea carriers went into effect on December 2. Under the new rule, US Customs will grant sea carriers a 60-day grace period to fully implement the program.

“By quickly implementing the ’24-hour rule’, we can do a better job of protecting the American people and the global trading system as a whole,” said US Customs Commissioner Robert Bonner. “Knowing the contents of a container before it is loaded onto a ship bound for the US is a critical part of our efforts to guard against the terrorist threat.”

Customs has posted a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section on its website for those who have questions about the program. It may be accessed by going to: or downloaded as an Acrobat file by going to Questions can also be E-mailed to Customs at:

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Shipping industry sources said earlier this week that a North Korean ship seized Monday, December 8 while carrying Scud missiles to Yemen has traded under numerous names and blacklisted flags-of-convenience in recent years.

“This is typical of ships that are involved in this kind of activity — ownership is far from transparent and there is a pattern of frequent changes of name and frequent changes of flag,” David Osler, industry editor with Lloyd’s List told Reuters.

Official registration records showed the ship might not have been flying any flag at all when it was seized by Spain and the US in the Arabian Sea. The SO SAN was found to be carrying 15 Scud missiles, 15 conventional warheads, 23 tanks of nitric acid rocket propellant and 85 drums of unidentified chemicals, under a cargo of cement bags.

The vessel has changed name five times in the past three years. It has also been registered under four flags since it was built in 1981, two of them blacklisted. In recent years it has been registered with the Cambodian flag which experts say is a notorious blacklisted flag of convenience.

“Cambodia is one of the highest-risk flags. It is particularly murky and has got to be one of the first choices if you are running arms,” a spokesman for the International Transport Workers Federation said.

Apparently, the ship was under the Cambodian flag until October, when it switched to the flag of North Korea. On December 10 it switched again to an unknown flag-state.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Earlier this week Venezuela’s navy boarded the oil tanker YAVIRE at gunpoint and took its captain into custody, almost a week after the vessel had anchored in support of an ongoing nationwide strike.

The tanker is one of several government-owned vessels whose crew joined the 10-day strike along with ground shippers and refinery workers, bringing Venezuela’s oil industry to a halt.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The MM&P’s Gisele Schmidt Fund will close December 31

The MM&P’s Gisele Schmidt Fund will close in less than three weeks. Gisele, 21, is the daughter of long-time member Gary Schmidt and was paralyzed as the result of a tragic auto accident earlier this year.

The purpose of the fund is to help with medical expenses not covered under the MM&P Health & Benefit Plan and for specialty items Gisele needs for everyday living.

In the spirit of the season, MM&P members are encouraged to contribute generously. The Union is absorbing costs associated with administration of the fund so that all proceeds will directly benefit Gisele.

Contributions may be made until December 31, 2002, payable to the:

Gisele Schmidt Fund c/o MM&P 700 Maritime Blvd. Linthicum Heights, MD 21090

Questions may be directed to John Gorman, MM&P Comptroller, at or by calling 410-850-8700 x12.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



A memorial fund has been established in the memory of recently deceased MM&P member Jerry Backman. Jerry shipped out of San Francisco and was 49-years old at the time of his tragic death as the result of an auto accident. Jerry leaves a widow and two children.

Donations made in memory of Jerry will be used to assist with the education of his children, a 22-year old daughter and a 15-year old son.

The Backman family is privately managing the fund. They are most appreciative of all the messages expressing sympathy and the positive stories from his shipmates and friends.

Contributions may be sent to:

The Jerry B. Backman Memorial Fund c/o Bank of the West 2900 Railroad Avenue Pittsburg, CA 94565


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The 2002 annual meeting of the Masters, Mates & Pilots Federal Credit Union will be held on Wednesday, December 18, 2002, at 10:00 AM. The meeting will be held in the cafeteria of the Plans building. All interested members are asked to attend. There will be a drawing for a door prize.

At the meeting, Credit Committee, Supervisory Committee and Treasurer’s reports will be presented on the general status of the Credit Union. During the meeting, the floor will be opened for individuals wishing to volunteer to serve on the board of directors, or on one of the committees.

There is currently one vacancy on the board of directors. Credit Union members in the greater Baltimore area are encouraged to consider volunteering. Members interested in serving in one of these capacities may also contact the Credit Union by email or call 1-800-382-7777 for more info.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



All parties are at the Union Hall unless otherwise noted.

East Coast

  • Boston Wednesday, December 18 12:00 noon K of C Hall 50 W. Schoolhouse St. Charlestown, MA
  • Norfolk Friday, December 13 12:00 noon

Gulf Coast

  • Jacksonville Friday, December 13 12:30 pm
  • Houston Wednesday, December 18 12:30 pm
  • Miami/Port Everglades Friday, December 20 11:00 am

West Coast

  • San Francisco Friday, December 13 12:30 pm Call the Union Hall for details: 415-777-5074
  • Seattle Tuesday, December 17 12:30 pm

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Class Openings

Between now and the end of February 2003, seats are available in following courses:

  • 1/6-17: MED-PIC
  • 1/6-11: MED-DOT-DA
  • 1/13-17: CMM-VPEN
  • 1/20-31: GMDSS
  • 1/20-24: SHS-BAS, CMM-ECDIS

“Refresher” Week courses

  • 1/23-24: MSC-DC
  • 1/25: LIC-EXAM PREP
  • 1/27-30: SMA
  • 2/3-7: CMM-SHS ADV, SEC-ShpOff, CSE-AWR
  • 2/10-21: MED-PIC
  • 2/10-14: MED-PRO, CMM-SHS ADV

“Shipboard Management” Week courses


“MSC” Week courses

  • 2/24-28: SHS-EMR5, ROP, MSC-COMMS, CMM-MPP
  • 2/24-27: SMA
  • 2/24-3/7: CMM-CHS


Schedules, Course Info & Registration

Always check the MITAGS website for updated course availability. You can also check future schedules, review detailed course descriptions and register on-line or contact Admissions at or 443-989-3226.


New Course Offerings

Additional classes added to the schedule are:

  • Confined Space Awareness (CSE-AWR)
  • Damage Control (DC)
  • CMM Advanced Shiphandling (CMM-SHS ADV); and
  • Small Arms (SMA)

Also, look for the “Course Cluster” weeks in the 2003 schedule. . .

“Refresher” week offers:

    • Radar Renewal
    • BST elements
    • HAZMAT renewal; and
    • sessions covering the admin requirements associated with license renewal, as well as tips on license exam preps

“Shipboard Management” week provides:

    • an ISM/Regulatory update
    • contingency planning
    • media response
    • maritime security; and
    • shipboard assessor training

“MSC” week has Military Sealift Command-certified courses in:

    • Environmental Protection
    • Anti-Terrorism (Level I)
    • CBRD Orientation; and
    • Damage Control


Damage Control & Small Arms

Starting in January 2003, Military Sealift Command (MSC) courses in Damage Control (DC) & Small Arms (SMA) will be available at MITAGS as a package:

  • DC will be held January 23-24 (Thursday-Friday); and
  • SMA will be held January 27-30 (Monday-Thursday)

From February 17-21, take the “MSC” week, including DC, then follow-up the next week with either Small Arms or MSC Communications.

These courses are required for all LDOs sailing on LMSRs and are highly recommended for all members.


Please Note:

  • With the Damage Control course now being presented on the MITAGS campus, DC quotas will no longer be arranged at the MSC sites at San Diego, CA and Freehold, NJ.
  • Effective January 1, 2003, Damage Control and Small Arms will be on the list of courses available through the Trust Student Out-of-Eligibility Program.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



PMI will be providing DOT Training for D&A on the following dates and locations:

  • December 16: San Francisco
  • December 17: Los Angeles
  • January 13: Honolulu
  • January 17: Seattle


Upgrader Course: Able Seaman to Mate

~ Act Quickly: 40% Discount for January 2003 Start Date ~

The Pacific Maritime Institute will be running the programs necessary to upgrade from Able Seaman to Mate in January 2003. In order to attempt to fill their first courses, they are offering a 40-percent discount to mariners wishing to start their training in January.

For the latest up-to-date info on class schedules, visit the PMI website at



MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



 D O W

 N A S D A Q


-34.10 for the week


 -14.16 for the week
 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)


 Chase Growth Fund (CHASX)


 Fidelity Asset Manager (FASMX)


 Fidelity Growth and Income (FGRIX)


Fidelity Magellan Fund (FAGX)


 Spartan US Equity Index Fund (FUSEX)



MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly

~ Reminders ~




MM&P International President Capt. Tim Brown and Executive Assistant Mike Rodriguez recently attended a meeting with the US Coast Guard, the Maritime Administration and the Military Sealift Command focusing on the assets needed to conduct an operation in the Middle East.

Deployment and time frames are still being discussed. Below is what the Union knows as of this time.

It is anticipated that merchant marine personnel will be key to this operation. MM&P, MEBA and AMO have a cooperative agreement so that if any of the unions’ contracted vessels need personnel and the contracted union cannot supply licensed marine officers, one of the other unions will staff these billets.

MM&P has sent letters to all MM&P applicants, to retirees who retired within the last 3 years, and retirees that retired within the last 4-7 years. The purpose of the letter is to ascertain your current address, the validity of your license, whether or not you have STCW-95, and other personnel data.

There are plans underway to provide a fast track STCW-95 course for those needing it as well as providing assistance in revalidating your license if it has expired.

In the case of retirees, you will be able to return to covered employment without the fear of exceeding the earnings limitation for health care. However, no additional pension credits will be provided for any service that you may render to your country during this emergency employment.

Since Desert Shield/Desert Storm, American Merchant Mariners have been provided with re-employment rights. These rights will insure that your present employer will give your current employment position back when you return from service with the MM&P in this type of deployment.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



With maritime security remaining a vital issue in the US and soon to be revisited at the International Maritime Organization’s December meeting, mariners should be aware that security info is available via the Internet.

The latest Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) available in Adobe Acrobat PDF format is circular 9-02 “Guidelines for Port Security Committees, and Port Security Plans For US Ports” and, more importantly, 10-02 “Security Guidelines For Vessels”. The latest hard copy issued, but not yet available on the Internet, is titled “Recommended Security Guidelines for Waterfront Facilities.

The 9-02 and 10-02 NVICs can be downloaded via accessing: and selecting “2000s” on the left and then clicking on the PDF icon on the right next to the 9-02 and 10-02 subject title. Read these NVICs carefully. This information is being supplied to the world at the IMO meeting in December.

Most of the responsibilities listed under 10-02 will most likely be assigned as collateral duties to a deck officer. With the existing workload licensed deck officers currently have, additional duties will make the LDOs job much more difficult and time-consuming.

Richard Plant, Director of Special Projects, has requested that the USCG IMO Delegation call for all port state authorities to review their certification of inspection (COI) manning requirements. In doing so, they should consider the present and future workloads that these regulations will impose on the crew.

Due consideration should also be given to whether additional unlicensed crew or LDOs are needed aboard foreign and domestic vessels to successfully complete the many tasks mandated under these new security proposals.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



SOS Incorporated, manufacturer of SOSPENDERS brand life jackets has alerted the USCG and the public that they have recalled approximately 7,200 automatic inflatable personal flotation devices (PFDs).

The purpose of this recall is to investigate a safety defect involving the Hammar model MA1 Manual/Automatic inflators. Approximately 300 defective Hammar units in one lot of 500 were loaded incorrectly and will not inflate the vest. SOSpenders Corp. has made the decision to recall all Hammar products for 100-percent safety inspection.

The USCG and SOS Inc. stress that is important for consumers to stop using the PFDs immediately and return them to SOS.

Important info to assist in the identification of potential defective units and what to do when units are identified is available from two websites:

Questions regarding this recall may be addressed to Daniel McCormick of the USCG at or 202-267-2713.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly





The Board of Trustees, based on recommendations by the Cost Containment Committee, adopted changes to the Health & Benefit Plan. The following changes will become effective January 1, 2003:

Annual Deductible

The current annual deductible of $150/$300 will be raised to $250/$500.

Out-of-Pocket Maximum

The current out of pocket maximum of $2,000 will be raised to $3,000.

Dental Reimbursement Levels

  • The Plan payment to in-network dental providers will go from 90% to 80%.
  • The Plan payment for out-of-network providers will go from 80% of UCR to 70% of UCR.
  • New contract with Delta Dental replaces Aetna/US Healthcare (Prudential Dental) agreement. See below for additional information.

Prescription Drug Program

Mail order drugs will be subject to a 20% co-pay for all single source brand name and generic drugs with a maximum out of pocket, per prescription, of $75.

For brand name drugs where the generic equivalent is available, the member will be responsible for paying the total cost of the difference between the brand name and the generic drug. The Plan will then pay 80% of the cost of the generic and the member will be responsible for the 20% up to a per prescription maximum of $75.

The Plan has also removed the mandatory mail order provision. This means that any prescription, regardless of the number of refills, can be obtained at a retail level but will be limited to a 30-day supply. However, obtaining maintenance medications through the mail order program may still be less expensive to you.

A synopsis of these changes and additional changes effective April 1, 2003 appears in the November-December 2002 issue of the MM&P’s Master, Mate & Pilot newspaper. The Plan Office has also mailed a summary of all changes, with examples, to Health & Benefit Plan participants.


Remember to notify the Plan office whenever you move or have a change of address. There are a number of important mailings scheduled for the next few months and we would like to keep all members well informed. You can fax your address changes to the Plan Office at 410-850-8655 or you can email them to the Plan Office at




This is a reminder that effective October 1, 2002, the MM&P Plan’s contract with Prudential Dental expired. Prudential was purchased by Aetna/US HealthCare in 2001 and could no longer offer the Plan the same type of fee-for-service arrangement as before.

In order to continue to offer Plan Participants an in-network dental benefit option, the Plan reviewed proposals from organizations that provide network dental services. After review, the Trustees approved a contract with Delta Dental, the largest provider of dental services in the US.

The Delta Dental Claims Processing Center in Mechanicsburg, PA, will handle claims administration for all MM&P eligible participants and dependents. This includes claims submitted by out of network dentists as well as those who are Delta Dental providers.

Plan participants who choose to go to a contracted provider will pay 10 percent of the contracted amount and the Plan will pay 90 percent. Participants will have access to all Delta providers in the Delta Premier Network option that includes over 133,000 dentists nationwide.



~ Where Does My Dentist Submit My Claims?

Effective October 1, 2002, all dental claims with dates of service on or after October 1, 2002, from both in and out-of-network providers, should be sent directly to: Delta Dental, One Delta Drive, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055-6999. Participants will receive a claim form in the mailing sent out by the Plan Office on August 11. Your dentist can copy this form and use it to submit all dental claims incurred on or after October 1, 2002.

~ How Do I Find A Delta Dentist?

You can locate participating dentists in your area in two ways. You can call 1-800-932-0783 from 8 AM to 8 PM Eastern Time, Monday-Friday, or you can sign on to the Delta website at Once you have signed on to the website, key on the bar marked “Pennsylvania”. (MM&P Plan members are enrolled in the Delta Premier Option through Delta Dental of Penn.) Next enter the search criteria to find participating Delta dentists in your area or enter your own dentist’s name to find out if he/she participates with the Premier network.



Delta Dental will coordinate with the Plan Office to transition all billing for “work in process”. This means that all root canals, orthodontia work and other staged procedures that are not completed under the old arrangement will be carried over and the remaining balance billing, for work performed on or after October 1, 2002 will be processed by Delta Dental.

It is important to remember that all work that has been pre-determined by Prudential/Aetna must be completed and billed with a billing date on or prior to September 30, 2002, in order to assure that your co-pay will remain the same as quoted in the initial pre-determination.

Any work started under the old Plan but billed for date of service on or after October 1, 2002 will be reimbursed according to whether the dentist is participating in the Delta Dental network. If your dentist is not a participating dentist, the balance billing will be paid at the out-of-network rate of 80 percent of the Plan’s UCR schedules.



All questions about any dental claims incurred on or after October 1, 2002, including claims submitted by out-of-network providers, should be directed to Delta Dental at 1-800-932-0783. You have been provided with a Delta claim form to forward to your dentist, however, your dentist may submit any standard dental billing form as long as the bill is sent directly to Delta at the above listed address.



Participants have been sent a brochure that includes a perforated generic identification card. This card lists the telephone number and the billing address for Delta. You are not required to carry an identification card because your social security number and birth date will identify you as an eligible participant in the Delta Dental Network.

It is important to remember that MM&P claims will be processed by Delta Dental of Pennsylvania. You or your dentist can access your eligibility by calling either the Plan Office or Delta Dental at 1-800-932-0783.

If you or your dentist have any questions, you can contact Delta Dental at 1-800-932-0783 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

Plan members are identified by social security number and the Group Plan number for MM&P which is 7117.

Billing for both in and out of network claims should be submitted on standard dental billing forms and sent directly to Delta at

Delta Dental of Pennsylvania One Delta Drive Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

You can locate participating providers on-line at Masters, Mates and Pilots members have access to providers in all of the Delta networks.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly




MM&P’s General Executive Board met on October 3-4. One item of particular note is that the Offshore Advisory Committee established quotas for admittance to the Offshore Membership Group.

Effective October 4, 2002, no member of any membership group, including the Offshore Unlicensed Membership Group, may transfer into the Offshore Licensed Membership Group without having been a member of the organization for at least as long as the length of time that the lowest applicant admitted into membership has in the organization.

Please see your local Offshore Vice President for additional information.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



  • Do you want an easy way to grow your savings?
  • Do you want an easier way to make deposits to your Masters, Mates & Pilots Federal Credit Union account?

Consider establishing payroll or pension direct deposit.

Many employers allow you to directly deposit your pay into several different financial institutions. Trinity Management, Strong America, Moran Towing of Florida, and McAllister Brothers are among the MM&P-contracted companies that already provide for employees to deposit funds directly into the MM&P Federal Credit Union.

MM&P Health & Benefit Plans Pensioners and A&G Region Pensioners may have deductions made directly from their pension check to their Credit Union account. In addition, employees of MM&P, Plans, MITAGS and MIRAID are also eligible for payroll deduction directly into their Credit Union account.

Add to your savings by paying yourself first! Contact your payroll office to establish Credit Union direct deposit or to find out if this is available for you. For additional details or to get answers to your questions on this or other MM&P Federal Credit Union programs, contact Kathy Klisavage, Credit Union Manager, toll-free at 1-800-382-7777 or by Email at




Members are reminded that the Masters, Mates & Pilots Federal Credit Union is offering vehicle loans as low as 5.25 percent. Rates range from 5.25 to 6.99 percent for terms of 24 to 60 months. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a new, used or a refinanced vehicle.

These rates are also in effect for new or used recreational vehicles, motorcycles or boats. Limited funds available at this rate, certain terms and conditions apply.

MM&P Federal Credit Union membership is open to all MM&P members, to all MM&P, MITAGS, MIRAID and Plans staff, and to their immediate families.

Rates and terms of offer are subject to change. Call Kathy Klisavage, Credit Union Manager, toll free 1-800-382-7777 or Email for all the details.


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 or to subscribe 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.

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