Wheelhouse Weekly – December 26, 2002

December 26th 2002


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

Volume 6 . . . . . Number 52. . . . . December 26, 2002






On behalf of International President Capt. Tim Brown, the officers and staff of the MM&P, the very best wishes for a happy, prosperous and rewarding New Year.

Members should take note and plan accordingly for the upcoming MM&P HQ, Plans and Port office New Year’s closings:

  • MM&P HQ will be closed one-half day on December 31 and all day on January 1.
  • The Plans office will be closed one-half day on December 31 and all day on January 1.
  • The MM&P Federal Credit Union will be closed on December 31 and all day on January 1.
  • All Offshore Port offices will be closed on December 31 and January 1.
  • The Great Lakes and Rivers Port offices will be closed December 31 and January 1.
  • The Pacific Maritime Region offices will be closed December 31 and January 1.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



MM&P Plans Administrator Valerie Verrecchio will attend the January 8, 2003, membership meeting at the New York/New Jersey hall to provide an update on the Plans and answer questions. She will also be present at a special membership meeting on Wednesday, January 22 at the Norfolk Hall. Both meetings will start at 1300 hrs.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The Japanese Coast Guard said last week that it would recommend the prosecution of the Master of the 5,180-ton North Korean-flagged bulk carrier CHIL SONG that ran aground at the entrance to the Port of Hitachi two weeks ago, spilling thousands of gallons of bunker fuel.

The agency found that the grounding had been the result of an error in judgement by the ship’s Master, who allegedly failed to pay proper attention to conditions when anchoring the ship.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Three months after it was grounded, demolition specialists blew up the Italian cargo vessel JOLLY RUBINO off the coast of South Africa. Over 3,000 pounds of plastic explosives were used to blow holes in the 31,000-ton ship, which ran aground near Cape St. Lucia in September.

Earlier, about 700 tons of oil and other hazardous cargo were removed from the ship that was near a wildlife preserve. The demolition was intended to speed the break-up of the RUBINO. The ship’s house was also burned to discourage looters.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The Honduras-flagged tanker MISTRAL was found by the Italian marine police on December 15 adrift in the Adriatic Sea with no crew on board. The last official sighting of the vessel was on December 9 when it was reported at the Albanian port of San Giovanni di Medua, having arrived there on September 4.

After officials boarded the ship to check whether it was carrying any toxic or hazardous cargo, it was placed under arrest in the Italian port of Bari.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



At the MITAGS holiday party in December, 12 people were recognized for their long and continuous service:

Alfonza Brown – “Mister Al” works for Sage Catering and has served in various food preparation capacities at MITAGS for over 28 years. Originally starting with Convenience Food Services, Mister Al has been a steadying factor during the numerous changes over the years. He is married to Pat and has four daughters.

Mary Butler – Mary has worked for My Cleaning Services at MITAGS for 30 years. Mary was head housekeeper, and could always be counted on to do her very best. Mary is married to Mr. J.C. Butler and has a daughter named Nice.

Hao Cheong – Hao started over 20 years ago in the simulation engineering department. He assumed the head of engineering from his brother and has been instrumental in every simulation project in the last 20 years. Hao is married to Amanda, and has a daughter Kristen.

Melvin Foster – Mel discovered MITAGS on a school trip in 1974. Originally hired as gardener, Mel has worked up through the ranks to the lead maintenance position. His knowledge and history of the facilities simply cannot be replaced. Mel is married to Tracy, a former Union and MITAGS staffer, and has three children Mel, Mark, and Nate.

James Heggie – “Mister Jimmy” has worked at MITAGS for various food service contractors for 20 years. Cooking has been his profession for over 40 years. Mr. Jimmy has 11 children, 24 grand children, and 10 great grand children.

Lee Klima – Lee worked as the media specialist for MITAGS for 25 years. His projects included the development of various training films and support material for the faculty. Lee also supported the activities of many outside groups. Lee now works on a consulting basis.

Mary Matlock – Mary started over 29 years ago. She originally started at the front desk before moving over to the Admissions role. Students know her for her warm smile, sense of humor, and a person to confide in. Mary’s daughter, Tee, has made quite a name in the music industry.

Donald Merkle – Don or “Mr. Fire” has been setting fires at MITAGS for over 24 years. Over the years Don has trained hundreds of mariners in the art of preventing and dealing with shipboard fires. Don was one of the original instructors for the Shipboard Medical Program. In addition to his teaching duties, Don has participated in the development of a number of fire fighting manuals. Don is married to Carolyn and has three children.

Polly Nolan – Polly has worked in the MITAGS administrative area for 20 years. Over the years, she has been instrumental in keeping the accounting department straight, and ensuring that customers remember to pay us! She has faithfully served as shop steward for the Offshore Administrative Group. Polly is married to our own Tom Nolan. When not at MITAGS, Polly spends much of her free time attending to the needs of her sister Janet.

Miriam Taylor – Miriam kept the entire faculty organized for 25 years. The success of our academic programs was due in large measure, to her support work. She made the instructors look good! Miriam and her husband Paul, are now retired. We miss her.

Howard Van Kirk – Starting part time over 25 years ago, Howard has worked his way through various positions within the conference department. Generous to a fault, Howard is respected and loved by all. He continues to be a key asset to the conference division.

Ernestine Wright – Ernestine has been working at MITAGS for My Cleaning for 29 years. She is the mother of Ms. Octavia Brown and a proud grandmother of Wesley and Jordan Brown. When away from MITAGS, she enjoys spending time with her beautiful grandchildren.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The MM&P’s Gisele Schmidt Fund closes December 31

The MM&P’s Gisele Schmidt Fund will close in less than two 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



Holiday Schedule

Classes resume on Monday, January 6, 2003. The admissions office will be closed all day on January 1 and the afternoons of December 31. The office will be staffed, however, on all other weekdays during the holiday period.


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, CMM-SHS ADV II
  • 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, 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


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.


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.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



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

  • 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. PMI is 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


+0.80 for the week


 +6.97 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 ~




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



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



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



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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