Wheelhouse Weekly – February 13, 2003

February 13th 2003


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

Volume 7 . . . . . Number 7. . . . . February 13, 2003








The MM&P General Membership meeting in Los Angeles/Long Beach has been rescheduled for Wednesday, February 19.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, has asked the MM&P for help in getting the word out that they need additional information to aid in their investigation of the Space Shuttle COLUMBIA disaster.

NASA investigators are hopeful that a mariner at-sea between Hawaii and California on February 1 may have observed, photographed or videotaped the COLUMBIA during its re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere at approximately 13:45 GMT.

Cindy Evans, Manager, Image Analysis Section at NASA’s Johnson Space Center explained that “NASA is anxious to collect all imagery of the COLUMBIA re-entry.”

“We encourage anyone videotaping the re-entry to share their data with us, and describe as fully as possible the time, the location, look angle, camera type, etc.,” said Evans. “We are funneling all information through the emergency operations center.”

Anyone sailing between Hawaii and California with info, photos or video that may prove useful to the investigation is urged to contact NASA’s Emergency Operations Center. The EOC is the central collection point and is responsible for tracking information and distributing it to the proper investigation teams.

NASA EOC may be contacted at:

Mail/Surface Delivery:

      Columbia MIT/JA17 2101 NASA Road 1 Houston, TX 77058

Any MM&P member who provides info is asked to notify Karl Schwartz, MM&P’s Communications Director, at or by calling 410-850-8700 x27.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Earlier this week, local news teams covered the loading of attack helicopters aboard the MM&P-crewed USNS BOB HOPE at Naval Station Mayport in Florida.

The helicopters are destined for delivery in support of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division.

Featured in the news coverage was the ship’s master, MM&P’s own Capt. John Kelley.

The BOB HOPE is one of the Military Sealift Command’s commercially operated Large Medium Speed Roll-on/Roll-off vessels. It is operated by MM&P-contracted Patriot Contract Services.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The Baltimore Chapter of the National Defense Transportation Association heard remarks presented by William R. Lucas, Deputy to the Commander, Military Traffic Management Command, at its monthly business meeting held February 13 at MITAGS.

NDTA is made up of commercial entities and non-military organizations that provide transportation and logistics service to the U.S. military. MM&P is a NDTA member and MM&P’s Capt. Joe Stone is president of NDTA’s Baltimore chapter.

The Military Traffic Management Command (MTMC), which is part of the Dept. of the Army, serves the entire US military in managing supply and distribution traffic of critical troop and civilian support items such as food.

Lucas noted in his remarks that one of MTMC’s main missions is to maintain scheduled transport lifts and avoid rush shipments of goods. Doing so, he noted, creates greater efficiency of resources and dollars.

Planning shipments in advance can result in substantial savings to taxpayers, Mr. Lucas remarked. He contrasted the high cost of shipping goods overseas by airlift against the vastly less expensive use of ships to get goods overseas.

During the humanitarian airlift food drops over Afghanistan, Lucas noted that hundreds of thousands of packaged meals were distributed. They were flown from the United States and then dispersed. He said that the cost of transporting the food entirely by air was approximately $7.65 per-meal.

Had the food made the trip overseas aboard a ship, the cost would have dropped substantially to somewhere between 12-cents and 15-cents per meal.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Commercial airlines have been enlisted by the Department of Defense to transport troops and equipment as part of the buildup for possible war with Iraq.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered the activation of Stage 1 of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF), according to a February 8 U.S. Transportation Command press release. Similar to the U.S. Navy’s Ready Reserve Fleet of militarily-useful vessels, the CRAF boosts U.S. military airlift capability with civilian planes, if needed. It was created in 1952.

Under Stage 1, 22 U.S. airline companies will make 47 of their passenger airliners and 31 cargo planes available for military use. Currently, only the passenger planes are being used. The cargo planes can be put into service quickly if needed.

Stage 1 is the lowest CRAF activation level. Stage II was activated for the first time during Operation Desert Shield in 1990. Stage III, for full-scale mobilizations, has never been activated; it calls for the use of up to 400 civilian aircraft.

Historically, the commercial airline sector has provided the U.S. military with 93 percent of all troop air-transport and 41 percent of long-range cargo needs, according to TRANSCOM.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation has announced the names of Representatives who will serve on the Subcommittee during the 108th Congress. The Subcommittee is part of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

This Subcommittee generally has jurisdiction over the non-security aspects of the merchant marine and related legislation and programs.

Leadership: Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) will again serve as Subcommittee Chairman. Congressman Bob Filner (D-CA) has been named to serve as Ranking Democrat.

Congressman LoBiondo is now serving his 5th term in office. He has been a consistent maritime supporter, cosponsoring the pro-Jones Act H.CON.RES.65 in 1997and signing letters asking for full Maritime Security Program appropriations for the past 3 Fiscal Years.

Other Republicans serving on the Subcommittee are:

  • Mario Diaz-Balart (FL), Vice-Chairman
  • Howard Coble (NC)
  • Wayne Gilchrest (MD)
  • Peter Hoekstra (MI)
  • Jim DeMint (SC)
  • Rob Simmons (CT); and
  • Don Young (AK), ex-officio; full Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman
  • Congressman Filner’s Congressional District includes the southern half of San Diego and the entire California/Mexico border. He was first elected to Congress in 1992 and is now in his 6th term. He has maintained a consistently strong record of maritime support, backing the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee’s effort on maritime reform in 1993-1994, and cosponsoring H.CON.RES.65 in 1997.

    Other Democrats on the Subcommittee are:

  • Peter DeFazio (OR)
  • Corrine Brown (FL)
  • Juanita Millender-McDonald (CA)
  • Nick Lampson (TX)
  • Mike Thompson (CA); and
  • Jim Oberstar (MN), ex-officio; Ranking Member, full Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
  • MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



    The US military build-up in the US Central Command area of operations continues, with well over 150,000 troops now serving in the region, Dept. of Defense officials said. The CENTCOM region sprawls from Kazakhstan to Kenya.

    NBC News reports that there are over 95 cargo and support ships currently at sea supporting the President’s war on terrorism. This does not count the well over 100 US Navy combatants that are also in the area.

    The USS CONSTELLATION and USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN carrier battle groups have been deployed to the Central Command area of operations. They’re in the Arabian Sea area and are part of Central Command’s 5th Fleet. Each group has 8,500 to 10,000 sailors aboard.

    The USS HARRY S. TRUMAN carrier battle group is in the Mediterranean Sea as part of 6th Fleet in the US European Command area of operations.

    The USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT has finished training in the Caribbean and is transiting in support of the global war on terrorism, Navy officials said.

    The largest Army unit to deploy to the area is the 3rd Infantry Division out of Forts Stewart and Benning in Georgia. That unit is in Kuwait. Other Army units, most notably the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, Texas, have received deployment orders.

    Several days ago, the Army’s 101st Airborne Division received its deployment orders and headed for the region.

    There are 35,000 Marines in the area of operations. The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force has 15,000 Marines in Kuwait. Roughly 7,200 Marines are aboard Amphibious Task Force East, and 5,000 others are aboard the Amphibious Task Force West. Thousands of sailors man the ships carrying the Marines.

    MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



    The US Maritime Administration is floating a “Short Sea Shipping” initiative designed to decrease freight congestion on the US rail and highway system. It is targeted at heavily traveled corridors such as I-95 on the East Coast, I-10 on the Gulf Coast and I-5 in the West.

    MarAd Administrator William Schubert has briefed several industry groups on the concept saying it is one of the reasons why his agency is exploring the possibility of freeing up dollars already set aside in the Capital Construction Fund. The fund assists operators in accumulating capital to build, acquire, and reconstruct vessels through the deferral of federal income taxes.

    Schubert said that if the CCF program, which includes approximately $1 billion in deposits, is opened to include the construction or reconstruction of vessels to be used in the contiguous coastwise domestic trade, short sea shipping would be en route to a high level of success.

    MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



    A high-voltage electric fence for ships is the latest weapon to be endorsed by the International Maritime Bureau in the worldwide fight against piracy. As previously reported in the Wheelhouse Weekly, the 9,000-volt fence is currently being tested by Secure-Ship, a Dutch company.

    Deployment of the fence onto the worldwide shipping market came just a week before the release of ICC’s Annual Piracy Report, which shows a significant increase in pirate attacks on the world’s oceans. Devised to protect both a ship’s cargo and crew, the fence is being hailed by experts as a breakthrough in maritime security.

    The Secure-Ship system comprises a collapsible electric fence mounted around a ship’s deck. Crewmembers can activate port and/or starboard zones, allowing work to take place on one side of the ship while the fence is charged on the other. A control module detects entry attempts and activates lights, alarms, and sirens to alert the crew.

    The electric fence delivers a 9,000 volt shock at any point of contact, a painful but not deadly charge. The manufacturers say their system has been designed to operate in all types of weather and is not hindered by salt-water spray. Initial reports say the system is being well received by the shipping industry. However, the presence of charged wires means the system cannot be used on tankers or other ships carrying heavily flammable materials.

    Two other important security measures advocated by the IMB include the satellite-tracking system SHIPLOC and recent international legislation requiring all ships to have their International Maritime Organization (IMO) number visibly embossed on their hulls. SHIPLOC is a small satellite-tracking device concealed on ships which allows owners to monitor the movement of their vessels.

    The embossing of IMO numbers is a requirement of the new International Ship and Port Facility Code (ISPS), implemented within the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention. IMB expects this new legislation will improve transparency of identity and improve the tracing of hijacked vessels.

    MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



    The US Coast Guard has increased its patrols and surveillance of the Windward Pass, Old Bahama Channel and the Straits of Florida in response to a possible increased flow of migrant activity from Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba toward South Florida,

    USCG cutters, boats and aircraft have increased their presence in these areas for the direct purpose of interdicting migrants attempting to enter the US illegally. All migrants interdicted at sea remain in USCG custody, receiving food, water and medical care if necessary, and will normally be repatriated back to their country of origin according to existing policies.

    Since January 2000, at least 157 migrants are believed to have lost their lives in this area. The actual number of deaths is believed to be much higher, but is unknown due to the large number of unreported voyages that never make it to their destination. USCG cutters and aircraft not only patrol US ports and waterways, but also the entire Caribbean Basin and the common transit routes used by those who try to violate US laws.

    “While we do the best we can to patrol the approaches to the US we also need help from the commercial and recreational mariners who sail these same routes,” said Capt. James Stark, chief of operations for the Seventh Coast Guard District which has responsibility for the area. “It is a vast ocean that we are responsible for, and we ask anyone who sees any suspicious vessels or activity to report them to us,” he said.

    MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



    The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) has sent a letter to US Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao urging her to reverse the recent decision to end the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly Mass Layoffs Statistics Report.

    MLS is the government report that details the geographic and industrial location of plant closings and mass layoff events involving 50 or more employees and what kinds of workers were affected.

    In the letter, EPI stressed the uniqueness of the data provided in this report and outlined how important it is for directing sorely needed services, training, and other aid to displaced workers and their families in a time of crisis. They also noted that the decision to kill the report is at odds with the recommendations of a joint federal-state task force that recommended its expansion.

    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 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





    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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