Wheelhouse Weekly – February 09, 2001

February 9th 2001


Bridging the Information Gap With E-NewsYou Can Use

VOLUME5. . . . . NUMBER 6. . . February 9, 2001




According to the Congressional Information Bureau, Senators John Breaux(D-LA) and Trent Lott (R-MS) have told President Bush that Congress isready to work with the new administration to develop new ideas to revitalizethe US maritime industry.

In a recent letter to the president, Breaux and Lott pointed out theimportance of maintaining a strong US maritime industry, including a strongshipbuilding presence.

The letter noted that for more than two decades, we have worked withother Senators and Representatives in a bipartisan effort to maintain andgrow the US-flag merchant marine and the US shipbuilding industry. We werepleased when both the Bush and Gore campaigns put forth strong statementsrecognizing the value of the maritime industry to our economy and nationaldefense.

Without a vital US merchant marine and shipbuilding capacity, our militarypower would depend on foreign interests to build our nation’s militaryvessels and provide the sealift required to mobilize its military forces.You’ve noted the importance of reducing our dependence on foreign sourcesof energy.

Maintaining an independent capability to transport military equipmentoverseas is critical to our national security. We must continue to fullyfund the Maritime Security Program and increase funding for the Title XIshipbuilding loan guarantee program to historic levels. We must preserveexisting programs such as the Jones Act and cargo preference. We look forwardto working with you to develop new ideas to revitalize the industry.

MM&PWheelhouse Weekly


MM&P-contracted CSX Lines turned in disappointing performance forthe fourth quarter while the rest of CSX Corp. recorded a solid turnaroundon earnings, with net income of $54 million compared to a loss of $25 millionin the same quarter of 1999. The company’s rail, intermodal and world terminalsbusiness all performed strongly through the quarter.

The domestic container shipping business recorded a $10 million operatingloss in the fourth quarter on revenues of $166 million, and was flat forthe year on revenues of $666 million, though executives said it shoulddo better this year after CSX redeployed vessels out of the volatile PuertoRico trade and into the strong Pacific markets. CSX chief executive, JohnSnow, remarked that earnings at CSX Lines were down sharply as a resultof difficulties in the Puerto Rico trade and rising costs.

He said: “Results for the quarter are disappointing and we are workinghard to turn things round,” adding that “this is a solid business withstrong market positions in Alaska and Hawaii as well as Puerto Rico”. CSXWorld Terminals, meanwhile, had “another excellent quarter, and we areconfident that this unit will continue to grow successfully in 2001”.

MM&PWheelhouse Weekly


A report obtained by the San Diego Union Tribune newspaper of a US Navyinvestigation blames the skipper and a junior officer of the San Diego-basedamphibious ship USS DENVER for the vessel’s July 13, 2000 collision witha MM&P-crewed Military Sealift Command (MSC) tanker off Hawaii.

“Human error caused this collision,” the investigation concluded. TheDENVER’s Commanding Officer and an unnamed ensign who was officer of thedeck and in charge of the ship’s navigation failed to change course toavoid hitting the tanker USNS YUKON, stated the report.

As reported last July in the Wheelhouse Weekly, both ships were extensivelydamaged, but there were no injuries. Afterward, the DENVER’s captain wasreplaced but the Navy refused to say whether he received further punishment.Officials also wouldn’t disclose the junior officer’s name or whether hewas reprimanded. Six months later, the DENVER’s former CO has been reassignedto the Pentagon and could not be reached for comment.

The DENVER, returning from a six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf,was to refuel from the YUKON, a Pearl Harbor-based MSC tanker, while underway.The investigation report reveals confusion aboard the DENVER in the finalminutes before the collision. The report found that:

The CO and the officer of the deck should have realized the high probabilityof a crash about five minutes before the accident. Instead, the DENVERheld its course and kept coming on while the YUKON turned in front of theamphibious ship. Bridge and combat information center crew members on theDENVER seemed confused about rendezvous and refueling plans.

The officer of the deck, an ensign, and the conning officer — who wasa midshipman on a summer cruise during college — were inexperienced onthe bridge. When the officers tried to avoid striking the YUKON, it wastoo little, too late. Such at-sea refuelings are standard for all Navywarships.

On July 13, the USS DENVER and USNS YUKON approached each other fromopposite directions. The YUKON, which by navigation rules determines thecourse and speed, announced plans to turn and set a new course for refuelingthe amphibious ship.

The investigation concluded that instead of falling in behind the tanker,which is normal practice, DENVER continued on a steady course, ignoringfrantic radio calls from Capt. Mark Wilson, the tanker’s master, as theships neared.

Only when the ships were less than a mile apart did the DENVER’s captainurge the officer of the deck to change course.  But, the course changesweren’t enough to miss the YUKON and as the ships got closer, the DENVER’sCO took charge. “Left full rudder . . . All engines stop! . . . All enginesback full!” he ordered in the final seconds.

On the USNS YUKON, knowing that a collision was imminent, the captainmade several quick decisions that probably prevented an oil spill or catastrophicexplosion, according to Navy officers familiar with the report and whospoke on condition of anonymity.

Loaded with more than 6 million gallons of marine and jet fuel, theYUKON could have exploded if the collision sparked a fire. Much of thefuel was loaded in the YUKON’s starboard tanks which was the side the DENVERwas bearing down on. Wilson increased speed and turned left, hoping theDENVER would miss the fuel-laden tanks, he told investigators. It worked.

The DENVER’s bow sliced into the tanker at the rear of its superstructure,crushing its outer hull above the waterline and tearing a gash in the aftflight deck. The third and fourth decks of the DENVER’s bow were obliteratedas hull plates were pushed back more than 20 feet. Part of an anchor wasbroken off and deposited on the YUKON.

Seconds after impact, YUKON’s Wilson radioed the DENVER:  “Thatwas one of the worst examples of seamanship I’ve ever seen.” An unidentifiedDENVER crewman responded, via radio:
“I agree.” Thanks to MM&P Government Employees’ Membership GroupRepresentative Randi Ciszewski for providing the above info.

MM&PWheelhouse Weekly


MARAD will need about 10 minutes of your time if you have been selectedto receive one of their maritime surveys scheduled to be sent out by theend of this month. The agency is coordinating a survey of a random sampleof mariners that will be conducted by DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The survey is designed to provide an indication of the accuracy of keyinformation in MARAD’s Merchant Marine personnel electronic database systemsas well as ensuring that info on mariners’ documents and sea service recordsis complete.

Also measured will be the progress of US Merchant
Mariners towards meeting the 1995 amendments to the International Conventionon STCW. Info provided regarding experience, understanding of reemploymentrights, and willingness to serve on sealift ships, will provide MARAD witha measure of the US Merchant Marine’s capability to respond to sealiftneeds.

The survey contains less than 20 questions and should take around 10minutes to complete. It will be sent to randomly selected mariners by theend of this month. For further info, contact Chris Krusa at Email: at voice: 202-366-2648.

MM&PWheelhouse Weekly


Openings in classes over February and March are listed below.  EmergencyShiphandling class (SHS-EMR), a three day class running from Wed-Fri, March14-16, currently has one person enrolled. If two additional students arenot confirmed by Feb.28 the class will be cancelled. Schedule through Dec.2001 is now being maintained on the MITAGSwebsite. Hard copy updates of schedules are also provided to the halls.

  • 2/15: ROR-1
  • 2/12-16: COMP-NET, GMDSS, TPIC
  • 2/19-23: BST
  • 2/24: ROR-1
  • 2/26-3/2: BRM-3, HAZ, MED-SMC
  • 3/5-9: ARPA, BRM-3
  • 3/12-16: HAZ, SHS-EMR
  • 3/24: ROR-1
  • 3/26-30: FF-ADV, ARPA


On Mar. 23 the first MED-MGMT class will be held at MITAGS. Although notrequired now, after Feb.1, 2002 it will be required under STCW for personsmoving from Officer in Charge of a Navigation Watch to Chief Mate/Master.Thus, after Feb.1, 2002, mariners going from 2nd Mate to Chief Mate willneed to satisfy the requirement. MED-MGMT is a 1-day course. Persons whocomplete either MED-SMC or MED-PIC will satisfy the requirement and willnot need to take the 1-day course.

MSC Classes

 The Strategic Sealift Communications Course will be held at MITAGSApril 2-6, 2001.

GMDSS License Renewal

There have been significant changes to the renewal process. Fee has increasedto $50. Forms have been revised. You cannot apply for renewal prior to90 days before expiration date. Check under GMDSS on the MITAGS websiteat: www.mitags.orgfor up-to-date forms and submission info.  New forms are also beingsent to the halls.

For additional MITAGS course info, please contact Mary Matlock at Voice:443-989-3226 or e-mail:

MM&PWheelhouse Weekly


Classes with availability through February are as follows:

  • 2/12-14 BRM-3 Day
  • 2/12-23 GMDSS
  • 3/5-7 BRM-3 day
  • 3/19-23 TPIC-Barge
  • 2/26-3/2 ECDIS

Note: The ECDIS course will meet the EINS (ElectronicIntegrated Navigation Systems) Standards.
Download their entire schedule at: latest PNMI press releases are at: further info contact Gregg Trunnell at voice: 206 239-9965; fax: 206-441-2995;Email:

MM&PWheelhouse Weekly


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MM&PWheelhouse Weekly

The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly is the officialelectronic 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: further info contact John Peige at Wheelhouse Weekly is sent via Email to MM&P-contracted vesselsat sea, broadcast worldwide via FEC marine telex and is posted on our webpage under “News” at:
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