Wheelhouse Weekly – February 06, 2003

February 6th 2003


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

Volume 7 . . . . . Number 6. . . . . February 6, 2003






The MM&P General Membership meeting in Los Angeles/Long Beach normally scheduled for the second Wednesday of the month has been postponed to the third Wednesday, February 19. The change was necessitated due to the observance of Lincoln’s Birthday on Wednesday, February 12 when the LA/LB ports and the MM&P hall will be closed.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



An important announcement from the MM&P Plan Office regarding your Health & Benefit coverage:

In November, a mailing was sent to all participants in the Health & Benefit Plan regarding changes to the Plan effective January 1, 2003 and April 1, 2003.

The changes, effective January 1, 2003 were as follows:

  • Annual deductible raised to $250/$500.
  • Out of pocket maximum, per person, to $3000.
  • Member co-pay of 20-percent on mail order drugs up to a maximum of $75 per prescription.

The Plan Office has gotten a number of calls from members regarding the co-pay on mail order drugs. It is unfortunate that the rapidly escalating cost of healthcare has forced the Trustees to make some difficult decisions, however these revisions are absolutely necessary if the Plan is to be preserved for the future.

Please keep in mind that mail order prescriptions are generally written for a three month supply so in most cases, the $75 maximum co-pay represents the cost for a 3-month supply of medication. This means that the average member co-pay is actually only $25 per month per prescription for the most expensive prescription.

It is also important to realize that for every prescription where a member co-pay is $75, the cost of that drug to the Plan is at least $300 if not more. For more info contact the Plan office at 410-850-8500.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The USCG has announced that in the interest of Homeland Security, the agency will be performing updated security checks of merchant mariner documents (MMDs/Z-Cards) on the following priority basis:

  1. Mariners on break-out vessels;
  2. Sailing mariners; and
  3. All other mariners.

Note: There will be no charge for the new security-enhanced document unless it is within one year of the regular renewal period.

During this period of transition, delays may be experienced at USCG Regional Examination Centers. The USCG apologizes for any disruption to the lives of mariners caused by switching to this new enhanced security system.

More details from USCG HQ are expected to be released next week that will further explain this new re-issuance program and the rationale behind it.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



MITAGS Executive Director Glen Paine announced that in conjunction with the MM&P and the MM&P Trust companies (Patriot Holdings, Waterman Steamship, CSX Lines, E-Ships, Matson, and USSM), more than $1 million in deck officer training has taken place at the MITAGS and PMI facilities over the last three years in case of a national emergency or the threat of war.

The Military Sealift Command (MSC)-required courses taught to training trust students have largely been self-funded as no contributions were received from MM&P-contracted employers while the reserve ships were in a “reduced operating status” (ROS) or unmanned.

“The Companies’ and Union’s commitment to prepare deck officers for the threat of war is based upon their contractual obligations to ensure that ships under their control and its officers are ready to serve their nation,” Paine said.

MITAGS ensured that all LDO training was completed in a thorough and cost-effective manner. Currently, MITAGS is offering the country’s first course for Ship Security Officer (SSO) training in Baltimore.

The SS JOHN W. BROWN is being utilized as a training platform during this program. There will be a number of these five-day sessions, the first of which was held earlier this week. Other sessions are scheduled for February 10 and March 3. However, due to overwhelming demand, these sessions are already booked. The next available class will be held during the week of April 7.

Check the MITAGS website,, for additional SSO classes and other security programs. For more info on MITAGS’ Ship Security Officer training contact Craig Thomas at 443-989-3358 or Email:

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The AMERICAN VICTORY Mariners Memorial & Museum Ship in Tampa, FL, is seeking a few good volunteer mariners. The 1945-built Victory-class vessel has been undergoing restoration for the past several years and is almost ready for sea trials.

Recently, the restoration group successfully stoked-up the engine and put turns on the wheel while the AMERICAN VICTORY was tied-up at her berth. Next, the ship is scheduled to undergo an 8-12 hour set of sea trials on February 19 or 20. She will be sailing from Tampa.

As of February 6, volunteers currently fill all but two billets for this voyage. Still needed are two people to sail AB and individuals to serve in the Steward’s department. Additional ratings, including licensed deck and engine officers, may be required — anyone interested in volunteering is encouraged to make your interest and availability known.

Per USCG requirements, individuals serving as part of the AMERICAN VICTORY’s operating crew must have current merchant mariner documents or licenses. When sea trials are completed, the AMERICAN VICTORY Mariners hope to initiate monthly “re-living history” cruises as early as April.

Mariners with active merchant mariner documents or licenses of all ratings are being sought to have their name placed on a volunteer call-up roster to help fill operating billets on an ongoing basis. For more info, go to Those interested should contact Johnny Johnston, Volunteer Coordinator, at E-mail: or phone: 813-228-8766.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



MarAd has issued a letter of commitment to MM&P-contracted Matson Navigation Company for $75 million per vessel in Title XI loan guarantees to aid in financing the construction of two US-flagged Philadelphia CV 2600 class containerships.

Kvaerner Philadelphia Shipyard is the builder for the vessels that are scheduled to be delivered on June 30, 2003, and April 30, 2004. Upon delivery they will be operated in Matson’s West Coast to Hawaii trade.

Just last week, it was announced that former MARAD Deputy Administrator and Interim Administrator John Graykowski will be joining the Philadelphia shipbuilder as its senior vice president and general counsel.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



In other Matson news, last week, the MM&P-crewed Matson 2,000-TEU containership LIHUE made the company’s first call at its new southern California berth at Pier C in the Port of Long Beach.

San Francisco-based Matson, the leading ocean carrier between the US mainland and Hawaii, will now use a 70-acre terminal operated by SSA Terminals. Previously, Matson vessels called at the Port of Los Angeles. Matson moved into offices at Pier C earlier this week.

The port is expanding the Pier C complex and redeveloped 11 acres of land to accommodate Matson’s automobile-shipping business. “We are pleased to have one of the leading US-flagged carriers calling here. We are certain they will be very successful in Long Beach, said port Executive Director Richard Steinke.”


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



USCG officials are concerned that poorer countries might face difficulties in implementing US-driven measures to increase security for seaborne trade.

USCG Commandant Admiral Thomas Collins said any significant terrorist attack on a shipping target would have a “long-lasting and negative impact both to our system of trade and economy.”

Since the 9/11 attacks, governments and security experts have stressed the need to enhance security for ships, cargo and ports. The sense of urgency was heightened last year after a boat loaded with explosives damaged a French oil tanker off the Yemeni coast.

The main focus to boost global marine safeguards is the recent announcement by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to update the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea. Member states will now have until July 2004 to implement extra safety steps.

This includes mandatory use of ship-identification devices and installation of on-board security systems. A detailed report on the SOLAS convention appears in the January-February issue of The Master, Mate & Pilot newspaper that is being mailed next week.

The US has also stated that it wants all US-bound cargo containers to be screened, with US agents stationed at overseas ports. Foreign governments and shipping agencies have voiced concerns about slowing port efficiency as well as security costs since about 40 percent of world seaborne trade, about 5.83 billion tons last year, is shipped by container and the proportion is rising.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



CSX Corp., parent company of MM&P-contracted CSX Lines, reported strong fourth-quarter earnings. The railroad and shipping company earned $137 million, or 64 cents a share, in the three months ended December 27, compared with $65 million, or 31 cents a share, a year earlier.

A strong performance by the company’s main rail and intermodal business was responsible for much of the increase. CSX Corp. President Michael Ward said CSX will be looking for revenue gains in what promises to be a flat economy in 2003.

John Snow, Ward’s predecessor as CSX President, was nominated in December by President Bush to replace Paul O’Neill as treasury secretary. The Senate Finance Committee unanimously endorsed Snow’s nomination last week.

As previously announced in the Wheelhouse Weekly, CSX Corp. has reached agreement to sell its CSX Lines subsidiary to The Carlyle Group for $300 million.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The Coast Guard has recently received reports of faulty servicing of several inflatable life rafts that were last serviced by facilities operating under the name “AMPAK” in Baton Rouge, LA, and Panama City, FL.

In at least one instance, the life raft gas cylinder was found empty, and the life raft would not have worked in an emergency. Others were marked as having been subjected to required tests that were not in fact performed.

Although the life rafts were USCG approved and of several different makes, the AMPAK facilities were not Coast Guard approved to service any of them. It is not known how many other life rafts may be involved. The USCG strongly recommends that any inflatable life rafts last serviced by those AMPAK facilities be taken to a USCG approved servicing facility as soon as possible. The USCG reports that both AMPAK facilities “appear to have since ceased operations.”

This recommendation applies to USCG approved life rafts on US-flag vessels, and foreign approved life rafts on SOLAS ships; the AMPAK facilities are known to have serviced both. For more info, contact Kurt Heinz of the USCG Lifesaving and Fire Safety Standards Division at 202-267-1444 or

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Class Openings

Between now and the end of April, seats are available in the courses listed below:

  • 2/17-21: CMM ADVSTB, “MSC” Week courses
  • 2/24-28: SHS-EMR5, ROP, MSC-COMMS, DCS
  • 3/3-28: MED-SMC
  • 3/3-7: ARPA, TPIC
  • 3/10-14: BRM, COMP-ABSS
  • 3/10-21: CMM-SHMGT
  • 3/17-21: BST, SHS-EMR
  • 3/20-21: MSC-DC
  • 3/22: MED-DOT-DA, CES-AWR
  • 3/24-28: FF-ADV, COMP-APS
  • 3/28: CBRD-1
  • 3/29-30: MSC-DC
  • 3/31-4/4: BRM, CMM-ECDIS, CMM-ADVWX
  • 3/31: ROR-1
  • 4/7-11: HAZ, “MSC” Week courses
  • 4/14-25: MED-PIC
  • 4/19: MED-DOT-DA
  • 4/21-24: MSC-SMA
  • 4/21-25: CMM-ECDIS

MSC Courses

Military Sealift Command (MSC) courses in Damage Control (DC) & Small Arms (SMA) are available at MITAGS as a package. Plenty of seats are still available in MSC-COMMS, CBRD-1, DC, and MSC-ENVPRO.


HWA Accepted for CMM

The MITAGS 35-hour Heavy Weather Avoidance (HWA) course will now be accepted by the USCG as satisfying the Advanced Meteorology requirement for Chief Mate/Master set forth in NMC Policy Letter 04-02. USCG will accept all certificates for HWA completed after May 1, 1999. This recognition is for the training area only. No specific assessments or control sheets are included.


Schedules, Course Info & Registration

Courses are subject to change. 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



Drug & Alcohol Testing Training


MM&P members required to be current and proficient under the new DOT regulations on urine collection and breath testing.

Members who currently meet MATES Program eligibility requirements will have priority; persons out of eligibility will be admitted on space available basis.


One-day class to meet requirements of 49 CFR Part 40 on urine testing and 46 CFR Part 4 on breath testing.

  • Monday, March 3: Seattle, WA
  • Monday, March 10: Los Angeles, CA
  • Friday, March 14: Seattle, WA

Class begins at 0800 and ends at 1600, with two breaks and a one hour lunch. Members successfully completing the program will be provided a certificate from MITAGS. Anticipate maximum class size of 20 students. Members may sign-up now at the hall.

Other Training Packages Include:

  • OS to AB
  • AB to Mate
  • Second Mate to Chief Mate

Call for details at 888-893-7829 or download the PMI course schedule with descriptions at or visit their web site at

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



 D O W

 N A S D A Q


-103.70 for the week


 -40.68 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 following memorandum from MM&P International Secretary-Treasurer Glen Banks has been sent to all Offshore Ports regarding the clearing or dispatching of MM&P Personnel on Surge and RRF vessels:

Maritime Administration (MarAd) and Military Sealift Command (MSC) officials have advised maritime labor that a break-out of surge and RRF vessels is possible in the near future. In order to ensure that enough qualified mariners are available to man these ships, MM&P, MEBA and AMO agreed, in 1999, to provide manpower aboard each other’s contracted vessels in times of national emergency.

The agreement established a process for filling vacant billets aboard vessels manned by other unions. The process is as follows:

  1. A ship operator identifies a crewing shortfall.
  2. The operator contacts the appropriate government agency.
  3. The agency contacts the other unions.
  4. The other unions fill the requirement.

The ONLY points of contact at MM&P will be Capt. David Boatner in our LA/LB office or Mike Rodriguez at International HQ.

Capt. Boatner and Mike Rodriguez will receive calls only from the appropriate government officials. In other words, ports are NOT TO CLEAR OR DISPATCH our people directly to any vessel not under contract with MM&P without the specific authorization of Capt. Boatner or Mr. Rodriguez.

When these positions become available they will go to active offshore members and applicants first. The jobs will be called in the appropriate halls in accordance with MM&P shipping rules.

In an emergency, Pensioners will be our second choice for filling these jobs. For instance, a pensioner may be shipped to prevent a ship from sailing late. Pensioner earning limitations and contribution issues will be addressed as necessary.

Members and Applicants are reminded that in order to receive pension credit, vacation and other benefits, you must ship through a MM&P hall in the manner described above. Shipping in any other way will not ensure that benefits will passed be through to MM&P Plans. Applicant points will be awarded only for assignments shipped through MM&P offices.

You may direct your questions regarding this issue to:

  • Capt. Banks:; phone: 410-850-8700 ext. 21
  • Capt. Boatner:; phone: 310-834-7201
  • Mike Rodriguez:; 410-850-8700 ext. 23
  • or to the Vice President in your area.


    MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



    During MM&P General Executive Board meetings held at MM&P HQ on January 15-16, 2003, the quota system established for admittance to the Offshore Membership Group was clarified to make it clear that this quota system does not apply to MM&P Offshore Unlicensed members.

    On October 3-4, 2002, the GEB established quotas effective October 4, 2002, stating that “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.” The wording of this statement was subsequently determined to be incorrect.

    On January 16, 2003, the GEB corrected the quota guidelines to read:

    “No member of any MM&P membership group, except for members of the MM&P 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.”

    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



    • 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



    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 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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