Wheelhouse Weekly – December 22, 2006

December 22nd 2006


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

Volume 10 . . . . . Number 51. . . . December 22, 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.



“On the 14th of December, MEBA President Davis and I signed The Merchant Officers’ Labor Alliance between MEBA and the MM&P.

This document spells out a number of goals that MEBA and MM&P would like to pursue together in the spirit of fostering and strengthening the fraternal relationship between MEBA and MM&P. It sets out a governing Structure and a method of ratifying actions of a joint board of MEBA and MM&P officials.

President Davis and I have agreed that we will both send this document out for a ratification vote of our respective memberships through a mail ballot of 90 days to allow debate on the document. It is anticipated that this ballot could be in the mail by the middle of February.

We intend to circulate the document itself in the union halls by the first of the New Year.”



MM&P International President Capt. Tim Brown has been selected to serve as a member of the US Trade Representative’s Labor Advisory Committee (LAC). He attended his first meeting in mid-October and is supported in his new role by Headquarters staff and MIRAID. The US Trade Representative’s office works with industry, other agencies of the government, and Congress on policy relating to foreign investment, trade issues and market access for American goods and services. The USTR is the President’s principal trade advisor and chief negotiator of bilateral, regional and multilateral trade agreements.

The LAC is one of 26 advisory committees that provide reports for the Administration and Congress on labor-related matters in proposed trade agreements. The reports are available to the public on USTR’s website. Trade issues of particular importance to the US maritime industry are trade in services (especially shipping services), government procurement, shipbuilding and cabotage. Some of the negotiations currently underway are with Colombia, Panama, Vietnam, Malaysia, China and Korea.


On September 28th the USCG published a Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular entitled “Physical Evaluation Guidelines for Merchant Mariner’s Documents and Licenses” (NVIC) in the Federal Register. The USCG’s purpose behind the NVIC was to provide guidance for the evaluation of mariners’ physical and medical conditions when they apply for their documents and licenses. The announcement opened a comment period that ended on November 27th. Due to the serious impact the NVIC will have on MM&P members, MM&P covered the NVIC extensively in previous issues of the Wheelhouse Weekly and submitted official comments to the USCG. Several members submitted comments as well.

Nearly all of the 90 or so comments received on the docket echoed MM&P’s position. Specifically, comments expressed concern over:

  • The impact of the NVIC on mariners’ careers. There is a widely-held belief that the extensive list of potentially disqualifying conditions will be costly at best and drive many experienced mariners out to the profession at worst.
  • The USCG’s overreaching approach to restructuring its medical evaluation process. The USCG maintains that it intends to evaluate each medical condition in terms of its potential for sudden incapacitation but many of those making comments, MM&P included, failed to see how several of the listed conditions put a mariner at such risk.
  • The USCG’s ability to process the anticipated increase in the number of applications for medical waivers. The USCG, the industry feels, has no real notion of how many more requests for waivers they will have to process.
  • The NVIC’s potential for discouraging mariners to seek treatment for potentially dangerous illnesses or conditions.

    Presumably, the USCG will now convene a panel to study the comments and make recommendations for changes. MM&P is hopeful that seafaring labor will be better represented and that the USCG will take into account the comments and the negative effects the NVIC will have on our industry. Thanks to all MM&P members who provided their input. MM&P staff will continue to monitor this issue and report on future developments in the Wheelhouse Weekly. For more info on these topics contact MM&P’s Executive Assistant to the President, Mike Rodriguez at 410-850-8700 x23 or by email at


    Earlier this week, the US Coast Guard has announced its decision to withdraw the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to establish 34 safety zones for live-fire training on the Great Lakes. The decision follows internal review, meetings with many community leaders, as well as nine public meetings, and numerous comments from the public and their elected representatives.

    “The Coast Guard appreciates the thoughtful comments we received and we will work with the public to ensure the Coast Guard can meet any threat to public safety or security. We are committed to addressing the concerns that training be safe, preserve the diverse uses of the Lakes, and protect the environment,” said Rear Adm. John Crowley, Jr., commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District.

    “As a native son of the region I take the Coast Guard’s role as guardians of the Great Lakes very seriously. The Great Lakes are one of the nation’s most precious resources. The current NPRM is unsatisfactory and I will take the time to get this right. We will not conduct live-fire training on the Great Lakes to satisfy non-emergency training requirements unless we publish a rule, and I intend to reconsider the number, frequency of use, and location of water training areas as well as other concerns raised by the public. I am also committed to pursuing environmentally-friendly alternatives to the lead ammunition we currently use.”


    A Baltimore County judge has ordered the owners of the Sparrows Point shipyard to temporarily stop dredging in the Patapsco River. The judge granted a temporary injunction to stop contractors from removing sediment in the river near the Key Bridge at the request of a group of local residents who also oppose to a liquefied natural gas terminal planned for the site, according to a lawyer for the group. The area in question is located just several miles from MM&P HQ in Linthicum Heights, MD.

    The Greater Dundalk Alliance’s LNG opposition team alleges in its court filing that the dredging is stirring up toxins that will harm nearby residents and the Chesapeake Bay. The community group, however, must post a $750,000 bond to cover the company’s revenue lost by not dredging, in the event that the contractors are allowed to resume the work. The temporary injunction expires in 10 days.

    The work to remove 600,000 cubic yards of sediment began Dec. 8th in a 160-acre area of the Patapsco River. Barletta Willis LLC, the shipyard owners, received permission from the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Maryland Port Authority in October 2004 to dredge the shipping channel to accommodate vessels at a ship repair facility and to dispose of the dredge at Hart Miller Island. The permit expires in January.

    AES Corp., the company that plans to build the LNG terminal at the shipyard, wants to dredge in the same area to accommodate tankers carrying LNG. AES plans call for dredging 2.5 million to 4 million cubic yards of material. Maryland Transportation Secretary Robert Flanagan announced in September that the state will not extend the dredging permit issued to Barletta Willis, in part because LNG opponents fear that, if the channel is dredged, AES will have an easier time receiving federal approval for its project.


    According to the MarEx electronic newsletter published by Maritime Executive Magazine, the details of a groundbreaking agreement designed to provide seagoing employment for US mariners were provided to a wide range of industry journalists earlier this week. The conference call announcement, arranged by SUEZ LNG NA LLC (SUEZ) and the US Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD), came in the wake of Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s approval of SUEZ’s Neptune LNG Deepwater Port project off the coast of Massachusetts. During the conference call, SUEZ Senior VP of Shipping Joseph McKechnie said that the deal will lead the way in promoting job opportunities for US mariners on board LNG vessels.

    Other participants in the conference call included US Maritime Administrator Sean Connaughton and Tom Bushy, Vice President of Marine Operations at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA), Captain Richard Egan, the new head of Shipboard Training and Career Services at the US Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) and Captain George Sandberg, Head, Department of Marine Transportation, also from USMMA.

    As reported by MarEx, McKechnie began by saying that SUEZ was pleased with the approval of Neptune’s Massachusetts project by Bay State governor Mitt Romney. Connaughton then echoed those sentiments, congratulating Suez Energy and also recognizing that there was one other applicant (Excelerate Energy’s Northeast Gateway) that had received the “go-ahead” from Massachusetts, as well.

    Connaughton praised Suez Energy’s efforts to use US mariners and potentially provide cadet berths, on Suez vessels. He also noted that the Deepwater Port Act requires the Department of Transportation to work with applicants for deepwater licenses to find berths for Americans. For his part, McKechnie said he would immediately begin using qualified US mariners, as available on Neptune LNG carriers. He cautioned that qualified US mariners may be in short supply. The US merchant fleet today has no active LNG carriers, none under construction and no concrete plans to build any. None of Suez’ current fleets of vessels are US flagged, and McKechnie said that there are no plans at this time to reflag any of them. He said that they were currently registered in Norway and Spain.

    MarEx reports that with regard to the legality of US officers serving and achieving license time via their possible future billets on board the LNG vessels, Connaughton told reporters that Norway and the United States already have such reciprocal agreements in place. He also said that efforts were underway to make sure that this reciprocity is tailored to LNG, as well. McKechnie said that SUEZ hopes to employ US mariners at all levels, but that “there will be recency issues” with US mariners who may not have stepped on the bridge of an LNG vessel in more than 20 years. In addition to LNG training available at MMA and USMMA, the Maritime Administrator reminded everyone that mariners can also get LNG training at other professional training schools in the United States, as well.

    SUEZ Energy North America is based in Houston and is the business unit of SUEZ Energy International responsible for managing SUEZ’s positions within the energy value chain in the US, Mexico and Canada. The company’s energy interests include electricity generation and cogeneration, natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG), asset-based trading and origination, and retail energy sales and related services to commercial and industrial customers. SUEZ Energy North America’s wholly owned subsidiary, Distrigas of Massachusetts, owns and operates a liquefied natural gas receiving terminal in Everett, MA, which began operations in 1971. It currently serves most of the gas utilities in New England and key power producers, meeting approximately 20 percent of New England’s annual gas demand.


    The US Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a press statement earlier this week reporting that Overseas Shipholding Group Inc. (OSG) has agreed to plead guilty to 33 felony counts related to deliberate vessel pollution from nine ships and false pollution log entries in three additional ships, in six US ports around the nation. According to the DOJ statement, OSG will pay a record $37 million — the largest-ever criminal penalty involving deliberate vessel pollution — and plead guilty to charges related to illegal dumping of waste oil, criminal violations of the Clean Water Act/Oil Pollution Act and the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, conspiracy, false statements and obstruction of justice.

    This multi-district investigation was conducted in Boston; Portland, ME; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Wilmington, NC; and Beaumont, TX. OSG is a US corporation headquartered in New York and is one of the largest publicly traded tanker companies in the world. This prosecution involves violations that occurred on 12 oil tankers. The $37 million penalty includes a $27.8 million criminal fine which will be divided among the districts and a $9.2 million organizational community service payment that will fund various marine environmental projects coast-to-coast.

    “OSG has engaged in repeated and deliberate pollution of our oceans,” said Acting Associate Attorney General William Mercer. “What is more disturbing is that OSG’s management failed to uncover or stop this illegal activity after allegations were brought to the attention of management on several occasions and again after the initiation of the government’s investigation. This penalty has secured justice against OSG and will serve as a deterrent for all other companies who attempt to circumvent the law for their own financial gain and at the expense of the environment.”

    “The Coast Guard takes its obligation as a steward of the marine environment very seriously,” said Rear Adm. Tim Sullivan. “We are committed to achieving our ultimate goal-industry-wide compliance with international and domestic pollution prevention rules. The case demonstrates that scofflaws within maritime industry can no longer treat intentional discharging of oil and the penalties associated with those acts as a ‘cost of doing business.’ Instead, the industry must embrace a culture of compliance. Effective, transparent partnerships between industry and our regulators are vital to allow the international pollution prevention system to work as designed. Failure by industry to meet this challenge of change will only result in further investigations, prosecutions and expense to all.”

    In addition to the plea agreement, a detailed joint statement of facts was filed earlier this week in court, in which OSG has admitted that the following information is accurate:

  • OSG made illegal releases of oily waste from approximately August 2001 to October 2003 from the M/T URANUS into waters off the coast of New England, in close proximity to Maine and Massachusetts, including the island of Nantucket. Discharges were made from the M/T URANUS through a long flexible hose trailed overboard at night, then through a hard bypass pipe that the ship’s Fitter was forced to make, and at a later point in time, by flushing an oil detecting sensor with fresh water.
  • OSG is responsible for dumping overboard sludge at night from three ships. In the case of the M/T OVERSEAS SHIRLEY, the ship’s 1st Engineer wrote a letter to OSG senior management alleging the “habitual criminal of sludge discharge to sea” and estimated that approximately 40,600 gallons of sludge had been intentionally dumped overboard through a bypass hose. OSG discounted the allegations at the time, but they were corroborated by the government’s investigation.
  • OSG violated the Clean Water Act by discharging approximately 2,640 gallons of oily waste and sludge from the M/T NEPTUNE off the coast of North Carolina. OSG concluded no oil had been discharged at the time notwithstanding receipt of a “Private and Confidential” memo (initialed by three senior company managers,) from an outside auditor who told the company that he had observed oil leaking from a bypass hose and believed that the discharge was not an isolated event.
  • OSG made illegal discharges of oily waste in 2004-2005 from the M/T PACIFIC RUBY in US waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Crewmembers contacted the Coast Guard alleging that the Chief Engineer had tricked pollution control equipment while making overboard discharges.
  • OSG concealed deliberate and illegal discharges by deliberately falsifying official ship records, including the Oil Record Book, making discharges at night, and by hiding bypass equipment during US port calls so that the Coast Guard would not discover the criminal activity.
  • Numerous OSG crewmembers, including chief engineers, engaged in conspiracies to commit illegal pollution and falsify ship records while certain lower level crew members knowingly participated because they were explicitly or implicitly threatened by superiors with loss of employment if they refused.
  • Shore-side management failed to provide and exercise sufficient supervision and management controls to prevent or detect criminal violations by its employees.
  • A motive for the crimes was financial: OSG was saving the cost of offloading waste oil in port and the time it would take to comply with the law.

    Criminal violations continued on some ships during the three years in which OSG was under investigation. On six vessels (M/T ANIA, M/T CABO HELLAS, M/T CLELIAMAR, M/T OVERSEAS PORTLAND, M/T VEGA, M/T PACIFIC SAPPHIRE), OSG self-reported violations which prosecutors credited by imposing fewer charges and reduced criminal fines. OSG also implemented new technology on its ships designed to prevent illegal pollution. According to papers filed in court, prosecutors did not seek even higher penalties on account of OSG’s cooperation during the investigation and because of compliance measures taken before and during the investigation and those promised as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.

    Per the terms of the plea agreement, OSG is also subject to a three-year term of probation during which it must implement and follow a stringent environmental compliance program that includes a court-appointed monitor and outside independent auditing of OSG ships trading worldwide.

    The government’s investigation was initiated after the Coast Guard in Boston received a referral from the Marine Safety Branch of Transport Canada, indicating that records for the M/T URANUS showed that bilge waste was being disposed while the official Oil Record Book failed to account for the disposal of waste. It was determined that these illegal discharges occurred within US waters off the coast of Maine and Massachusetts. During this time, crewmembers discharged approximately 150,000 gallons of oil-contaminated waste while “tricking” the Oil Content Meter designed to detect and prevent discharges containing more than 15 parts-per-million oil. That is the international limit established by the MARPOL Protocol, an international treaty implemented by the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.

    The government’s investigation grew to include evidence of deliberate violations of the MARPOL Protocol and US law by the following 12 oil tankers: M/T ANIA, M/T CABO HELLAS, M/T NEPTUNE, M/T OVERSEAS ALCESMAR, M/T OVERSEAS CLELIAMAR, M/T OVERSEAS SHIRLEY, M/T OVERSEAS PORTLAND, M/T PACIFIC SAPPHIRE, M/T PACIFIC RUBY, M/T REBECCA, M/T URANUS, and M/T VEGA.

    This week’s prosecution was made possible through the combined efforts of the US Coast Guard units in each port, the Coast Guard Investigative Service, Coast Guard Office of Maritime and International Law, Coast Guard Office of Investigations and Analysis, and Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigations Division. The case was prosecuted by the Environmental Crimes Section of the US Department of Justice and the US Attorney’s Offices in the affected districts.


    In the respected international maritime newsletter Fairplay published by Lloyd’s Register, Overseas Shipholding Group has clarified what it says are misconceptions about its record $37M environmental settlement that were implied by this week’s Department of Justice (DOJ) press statement. As reported in Fairplay, OSG chief executive Morten Arntzen maintained that “the agreement is very clear: we’ve pled to one Clean Water Act violation involving the Neptune in 2002 and 32 counts that are all related to improper record-keeping. I found the DOJ press release to be rather confusing,” he continued, asserting: “It’s absolutely incorrect that we’ve pled guilty to deliberately dumping from nine ships.”

    The Fairplay article also reports that according to Arntzen, “We are guilty of not having taken as many measures as we could have early on in the process, but as it’s clearly stated in the joint factual statement, we don’t know what went overboard and they [the DOJ] don’t know either.” This uncertainty is part of the reason OSG decided to settle the case. Another reason: “If you’re under indictment or investigation, it ties up an enormous amount of management time. It was more important for us to focus on operating the ships than dealing with ongoing investigations and trials. As a practical matter, it was in the interest of the shareholders and particularly the employees to put this behind us.”


    The Hong Kong Marine Department issued a notice advising the maritime community that traffic will be restricted in waters of Victoria Harbor off the Avenue of the Stars during the annual Symphony of Lights. The event will be held on the evenings of December 23, 24, 25, 30, and 31, 2006 and on January 1, 2007.


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

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

    BRM Bridge Resource Management: 1/22, 2/19, 3/26
    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): 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
    Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 3/19
    Available on a “Stand-By Basis Only”: CMM-SHS-ADV-II – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 1/15, 2/12
    CMM-VPEN – Voyage Planning and Electronic Navigation: 3/26
    CMM-WKP – Advanced Watchkeeping: 3/12

    CONT-PLNG – Contingency Planning: 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

    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: 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

    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
    12,421.25 -24.27 for the week 2,415.85 -41.35 for the week 1,412.64 -14.45 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