Wheelhouse Weekly – December 24, 2013

December 24th 2013


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

Volume 17 . . . Number 52 . . . Dec. 24, 2013


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


MM&P wishes all readers of the Wheelhouse Weekly, on land and at sea, and their friends and families, a happy holiday season.


All MM&P port offices, the MM&P Federal Credit Union, the MM&P Plan Office and MM&P Headquarters will be closed on Tuesday, Dec. 24, Wednesday, Dec. 25 and Wednesday, Jan. 1. In addition, MM&P port offices will be closed on Tuesday, Dec. 31.


The Russian parliament has granted amnesty to the crewmembers of the Greenpeace ship ARCTIC SUNRISE, who were arrested Sept. 19 during a protest against Arctic oil drilling. Members of the 30-person crew, who were initially charged with “piracy,” were jailed for two months. After widespread international protests, the charge was reduced to “hooliganism,” and they were freed on bail, although barred from leaving Russia. The master of the ARCTIC SUNRISE, Captain Peter Willcox, is an MM&P licensed deck officer.

Members of the international maritime community have spoken out strongly in the crew’s defense. “The crime of piracy is one that involves illegal acts of violence or detention, or raids committed for private gain,” said Mark Dickinson, general secretary of the maritime labor union Nautilus, in a letter to Russian authorities. “We consider that exposing professional mariners and environmental protestors to such a charge is a serious misuse of a term that is widely accepted as a definition for armed robbery on the high seas.”

Nautilus and MM&P had called for the immediate release of the crew and for all charges against them to be dropped. MM&P wrote to Russia’s ambassador to the United States to protest, in the strongest possible terms, the detention of the crew. The union pointed out that the environmentalists had been involved in a peaceful, non-violent protest.

The amnesty allows the members of the crew to avoid trial and the threat of jail. Last-minute changes to the law mean judicial proceedings against the 30 are “almost certain” to end and the 26 non-Russians among them should be able to go home, a Greenpeace spokesperson said. “I might soon be going home to my family, but I should never have been charged and jailed in the first place,” Greenpeace quoted Captain Willcox as saying.

Under the terms of the amnesty, two members of a rock band that had carried out a political protest in Moscow’s largest church were also set free. In a separate legal action, a pardon was issued to industrialist Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, who has served 10 years in jail on what human rights groups say are trumped-up, politically motivated charges.

Along with the Greenpeace activists, the three had become symbols for Russia’s critics and could well have been the subject of protests during the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Although Putin has described the amnesty as an effort to make the Russian criminal justice system more humane, the move has underscored both his personal power and the arbitrariness in the country’s judicial system that human rights groups have long deplored.


Nautilus International is raising concerns over the credibility of the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) certification process after mariners aboard two ships with MLC certificates were found to be working in desperate conditions. Nautilus represents licensed deck officers in Britain, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

An article in the December issue of the union’s magazine, Nautilus, describes cases in which two ships with certificates were found to be in violation of the MLC. In November, an International Transport Worker Federation (ITF) inspector discovered a flag-of-convenience (FOC) ship in a U.K. port with rotten food, out-of-date provisions and a cockroach infestation. Port health officials said the rotten food, mold and dirt in the kitchen presented “an imminent risk of injury of health to the crew onboard due to the significant risk of food contamination.”

In a separate case involving a Panamanian-registered general cargo ship, the same ITF inspector found crewmembers were owed almost $46,000 in back pay. The mariners reported that their vessel had just been successfully audited for MLC compliance. “The most disappointing aspect of this case,” the inspector said, “was that the first thing the captain said to me when I boarded the vessel was, ‘We don’t need any assistance. Everything is OK onboard. We have just been audited for MLC compliance and passed.’ He genuinely didn’t know that the agreement was not being complied with.”

The inspector was quoted as saying that other ITF inspectors are reporting similar findings on ships that have been issued a declaration of compliance with the Maritime Labor Convention. “How can they possibly be found to be in compliance when the crewmembers are being paid approximately half of the wages stipulated in the crew agreement?” he asked.


South Korea’s national labor federation has announced a general strike in support of the employees of the state-run railroad. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) has more than 690,000 members who work in sectors that include construction and public transport. The government says a general strike could bring the country to a halt and severely damage the economy.

Almost a third of the country’s railroad workers walked off their jobs two weeks ago to protest a government decision to create a new business unit to operate a high-speed bullet train, a move unions say will lead to privatization and mass layoffs.

Union leaders have blamed inexperienced replacement workers brought in by the railroad for the death of an 84-year-old passenger last week: a 19-year-old student was working the doors of the train when the passenger died. After the incident, the government arrested hundreds of workers. All the strikers have been indefinitely suspended from their jobs. A government spokesman said the state railroad was approximately $16 billion in debt and has called on the workers to make concessions.

You can show support for South Korea’s railroad workers by going to this link:


The deadline to apply for a Union Plus Scholarship is fast approaching. To be considered for a scholarship for the 2014 study year, union members and their families should submit an application by Friday, Jan. 31 at 12 P.M. ET. Scholarship amounts range from $500 to $4,000. These one-time cash awards are for study beginning in fall 2014. Students may reapply each year.

Since 1992, the Union Plus Scholarship Program has awarded more than $3.5 million to students of working families who want to begin or continue their post-secondary education. Over 2,300 families have benefited from the union movement’s commitment to higher education. The Union Plus Scholarship Program is offered through the Union Plus Education Foundation.

For eligibility information and to apply go to and click on “Legal and Education,” and then “Scholarships.”


The Plan Office has received approval to close the year-end Internal Revenue Service and company reports and to process Vacation and PRO payments for 2013 no later than Friday, Dec. 27, at 1:00 p.m. EST. All requests for 2013 Vacation and PRO payments received after this date and time will be held until Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014 for processing and payment, and will therefore be taxable in 2014. If you have any questions, contact Ken Ryan at 410-850-8617.


The Trustees received a report from Fund Co-Counsel concerning the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, and recent federal government guidance, on the Plans’ definition of “Spouse” for purposes of “surviving spouse” options under the Pension Plan, APP and IRAP and health coverage under the Health & Benefit Plan. After much discussion, the Trustees unanimously agreed as follows: (a) effective September 16, 2013, to treat the spouse of a married same-sex couple as a spouse for all standard form of payments, benefit options and spousal consent purposes under the Pension Plan, APP and IRAP; and (b) to allow a spouse of a married same-sex couple to enroll for health coverage under the Health & Benefit Plan during the “open enrollment” period between November 1 and December 31, 2013, for coverage effective January 1, 2014. The validity of the marriage will be determined based on the state in which the marriage took place.


If you are interested in attending the Offshore Familiarization Course, please contact your MM&P Vice President to request that one be scheduled in your area. An Offshore Orientation Course is now scheduled for Los Angeles/Long Beach on March 12-13 and Oct. 8-9. If you are interested in participating in the course, please contact the Los Angeles/Long Beach Hall: 310-834-7201 or 310-834-6667 (fax). There is no sea-time requirement to take the course. All Offshore applicants, potential transferees from other membership groups and other interested Offshore members are encouraged to take the course as soon as possible.


The 2006 Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) entered into force on Aug. 20. It has been described as the fourth pillar of international shipping regulations along with SOLAS, MARPOL and STCW.  The International Labor Organization consolidated a number of previous conventions in MLC 2006. It establishes minimum standards on conditions of employment, accommodations, health and safety, medical care, crew welfare, recruitment, working conditions and social security protection. MLC will be strictly enforced during port state control inspections, including the potential for more detailed inspections and possible detention where hazardous conditions may exist if ships are not to be in compliance. Visit for more information or to register for the MLC course.


MITAGS needs your current address! Have you moved recently? Did you remember to send MITAGS your new address for communications regarding courses? Please send your current contact information to or to the fax number below.

New dedicated fax line for Admissions only: 1-443-568-1928. For all other MITAGS business, please continue to use: 410-859-5181.

For class availability or information on MITAGS courses and programs, contact Kelly Michielli, Admissions Coordinator, toll-free at 866-656-5568 or by e-mail: Why not try our on-line calendar to register for class:

AB – 4/14/14

AIS-1 – Automatic Identifications Systems Orientation: 5/6/14

ARPA – Automated Radar Plotting Aids: 1/21/14, 4/1/14

AZIPOD 2-Day – 2/6/14, 5/7/14

BRM – Bridge Resource Management: 1/27/14, 3/24/14, 6/2/14

BRMP –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 2/4/14, 3/3/14

BST – Basic Safety Training: 1/20/14, 2/10/14, 4/7/14, 6/9/14

CHS-BAS – Cargo Handling Basic: 4/14/14

CONSTB – Ship Construction and Basic Stability: 1/27/14

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

CMM-ADVNAV – Advanced Navigation (=ECDIS & VPEN): 2/24/14

CMM-ADVSTB – Advanced Stability: 2/3/14, 4/28/14, 6/23/14

CMM-ADVWX – Advanced Meteorology: 3/10/14, 6/16/14

CMM-CHS – Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 2/10/14, 5/5/14

CMM-ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display Information System: 1/27/14, 2/24/14, 5/5/14, 6/2/14

CMM-LDRSHP – Management, Communication, & Leadership (Management Level): 3/17/14

CMM-MPP – Marine Propulsion Plants:  1/20/14, 3/31/14

CMM-SHMGT – Ship Management (2 weeks): 1/6/14, 4/7/14

CMM-SHS-ADV-I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 2/17/14, 3/10/14, 4/7/14, 4/28/14, 6/9/14

CMM-SHS-ADV-I I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 2/24/14, 3/17/14, 4/14/14, 5/5/14, 6/16/14

CMM-VPEN – Voyage Planning & Electronic Navigation: 3/3/14, 6/9/14

CMM-WKP – Advanced Watchkeeping: 1/27/14, 4/21/14

CNAV – Celestial Navigation: 4/28/14

CONSTB – 1/27/14

CONT PLNG – Contingency Planning Workshop:

DDE – Great Lakes: 1/27/14

DPA – 1/6/14

ECDIS-Pilots – 3/5/14

ENVIRO-Regs Permit – Environmental Regulations Permit:

FF-BADV – Fire Fighting Combined Basic & Advanced: 1/20/14, 2/10/14, 4/7/14, 6/9/14

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep & Medications:  2/3/14

GL Pilot – Great Lakes Pilotage Familiarization: 1/24/14

GMDSS – Global Maritime Distress and Safety System: 3/17/14

HAZ – Hazardous Materials (5 day): 6/23/14

LAP- 3/10/14

LAP-Great Lakes – License Advancement Program – Great Lakes:  1/27/14

LAP-ORG3rd – License Advancement Program for Original 3rd Mate, Oceans, Any Gross Ton License: 6/2/14

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 1/22/14, 3/5/14

LNG-TPIC – 4/7/14

MCL – Management, Communications and Leadership

MCL OICNW –Management, Communications, and Leadership OICNW level: 9/5/14, 10/7/14

MEDIA-RSP – Media Response Workshop:  2/7/14

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge: 1/6/14, 2/17/14, 3/17/14, 4/21/14, 6/16/14

MED-PIC -R– Medical Person in Charge Refresher: 1/27/14, 5/12/14

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 1/6/14, 2/17/14, 3/17/14, 4/21/14, 6/16/14

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing: 1/11/14, 1/25/14, 2/22/14, 3/22/14, 4/26/14, 6/21/14

MSC-CBRD-1 – Military Sealift Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense Orientation (Basic): 3/14/14

MSC-DC – Military Sealift Command Damage Control (4 Evenings): 3/10/14

MSC -SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualification:  3/10/14



*MSC-Ship’s Reaction Force –

ROP-5 – Radar Observer Program – Unlimited: 1/13/14, 2/3/14, 4/7/14

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 1/20/14, 3/31/14

ROR-1N – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 1/8/14, 1/22/14, 2/5/14, 2/19/14, 3/6/14, 3/20/14, 4/2/14, 4/16/14, 4/30/14, 5/7/14, 5/14/14, 6/5/14, 6/18/14

SAR – Search & Rescue

SEC-MSA –Maritime Security Awareness: 12/10/13 PM, 5/5/14 (PM)

SEC-VPDSD – Vessel Personnel with Designated Security Duties: 12/11/13, 5/6/14

SEC-VSO – Vessel Security Officer: 12/12/13, 2/4/14, 5/7/14

SHS-BAS – Basic Shiphandling:  2/10/14, 6/16/14

SHS-EMR5 – Emergency Shiphandling-5 Day: 1/20/14, 3/3/14

SHS-ESH-BRMP3 – Emergency Shiphandling and Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 3/5/14, 4/29/14

TCNAV/CO – Terrestrial Navigation and Compasses: 1/6/14

TPIC – Tankerman Person in Charge:  2/24/14

TTT – Train the Trainer: 4/7/14

WKP-BAS – Basic Watchkeeping: 3/3/14

WX-BAS – Basic Meteorology: 2/24/13

…And remember: If you can’t make the class, make the call.  Be courteous, don’t be a “no show.”

Check the MITAGS website at for course descriptions associated with the course title abbreviations, and schedule revisions.


Please also see our schedule online at For registration, call our registrar, Jennifer Pitzen, at (206) 838-1126.

January 2014

6th         Radar Renewal
6-24       Terrestrial and Coastal Navigation
7-9          Vessel Security Officer
13-17     ECDIS
13-24     GMDSS
27-31     Radar Observer Unlimited
27-31     Medical Care Provider
27-7       Medical Person-In-Charge

February 2014

3rd         Radar Renewal
3rd         Flashing Light
3-7          Basic Watchkeeping (Rules of the Road)
4-7          ARPA
10-14     ECDIS
10-14     Bridge Resource Management w/ Simulation
10-21     GMDSS
17-21     ECDIS
17-21     Bridge Resource Management w/ Simulation
24-28     Medical Care Provider
26-28     Vessel Security Officer

March 2014

3-14       Celestial Navigation
10-21     GMDSS
17th       Radar Renewal
24-28     ECDIS
24-28     Able Seaman
24-4       License Preparation (Mate Level)

April 2014

7-11       ECDIS
14th       Radar Renewal
14-18     Medical Care Provider
14-25     Medical Person-In-Charge
15-18     ARPA
28-2       ECDIS

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. Suite B, Linthicum Heights, MD 21090-1953. Phone: 410-850-8700; Fax: 410-850-0973; Email: For further info or to subscribe contact Lisa Rosenthal at The Wheelhouse Weekly is sent via Email to MM&P-contracted vessels at sea and is posted on our web page.

© 2013, International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots. All the material contained in this publication is protected by copyright. For permission to reprint text from the Weekly, contact the MM&P Communications Department: For changes of address, contact Lisa Rosenthal at