Wheelhouse Weekly – February 18, 2014

February 18th 2014


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

Volume 18 . . . Number 7 . . . Feb. 18, 2014


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


The role of the Jones Act in promoting employment in the American transportation industry was among the topics discussed by members of the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department (TTD) at its winter Executive Committee meeting on Feb. 16 in Houston. During the course of the meeting, TTD President Edward Wytkind outlined TTD’s maritime legislative program, underlining the need for a proactive strategy aimed at building the U.S.-flag maritime industry rather than merely fighting to hang on to existing programs.

Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA) President Marshall Ainley and MM&P President Don Marcus both described the challenges facing the maritime industry and stressed the need for a comprehensive national maritime policy, a topic that was central to the recent U.S. Maritime Administration National Maritime Symposium. Ainley and Marcus are members of TTD’s Executive Committee.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, the keynote speaker, highlighted the importance of the Jones Act and the maritime industry in the context of job creation in the transportation sector. He also spoke at length about the AFL-CIO’s efforts to improve the political accountability of elected officials who may rely on union members on Election Day but then fail to follow through on campaign pledges to support labor once they are in office.

During the meeting, Marcus urged Trumka to support solidarity charters for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which disaffiliated from the AFL-CIO last year. “The ILWU has been a guiding light for maritime labor,” Marcus said. “Efforts must be made to show solidarity with the ILWU, not only because the AFL-CIO is weaker without it, but also because of the critical importance to AFL-CIO and TTD affiliates of the ongoing grain terminal lockouts on the Columbia River as well as the upcoming Master agreement negotiations on the West Coast.”

Acting Deputy Secretary of Transportation Victor Mendez also addressed the group. Mendez, who served previously as Federal Highway Administrator, pledged to work with labor and broaden his knowledge of maritime issues.


The House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure voted on Feb. 11 to add two provisions to HR 4005–the Coast Guard Authorization Bill for fiscal years 2015 and 2016–that could significantly bolster the coverage and implementation of the cargo preference program for U.S.-flag ships. The provisions, strongly supported by MM&P and the other maritime unions and U.S.-flag shipping companies, were put forward by Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), chairman of the Committee’s Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, and Congressman John Garamendi, the Subcommittee’s ranking Democrat.

The first provision included in the Coast Guard legislation is intended to clarify and enhance the authority of the Maritime Administration to enforce existing U.S.-flag cargo preference requirements. It makes clear that the Maritime Administration can start immediately to enforce cargo preference and to ensure that all other federal agencies comply with cargo preference requirements.  It also specifies that when issues regarding the applicability of cargo preference to a particular government program arise, the Maritime Administration is to be the final arbiter. 

Hunter and Garamendi also added a provision to the bill that would restore the 75 percent cargo preference level applicable to Food for Peace and other government-impelled agricultural commodities. The percentage was reduced to 50 percent in 2012.
The Coast Guard legislation with these two provisions must next be considered by the full House of Representatives. No date for House action has yet been scheduled and no action has been scheduled to date in the Senate.


Fifty-two days after a collision followed by a catastrophic fire, the Hong Kong-flagged MARITIME MAISIE remains under tow in the North Pacific and is now at risk of splitting in two. Japan and South Korea have refused to allow the damaged chemical tanker to dock so that the remaining cargo and fuel can be offloaded. Emergency responders say the vessel’s hull strength is “severely impaired” and warn that it is in danger of breaking up if the weather worsens.

“To say the situation points up a flaw in the safe haven rules is an understatement,” says MM&P Pilots Group Vice President George Quick, who represents the union at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and in other international forums. Non-binding IMO guidelines indicate that coastal states should provide a safe haven for damaged ships. But the guidelines are frequently ignored because authorities don’t want to accept the potential risks to the local population. “In doing so they create a much greater risk, but hope it will occur in someone else’s backyard,” Quick says.

MARITIME MAISIE was damaged in a Dec. 29 collision off Busan with the pure car and truck carrier GRAVITY HIGHWAY. The ship was carrying almost 30,000 metric tons of cargo when the accident took place; about 10 percent is estimated to have been lost at sea or vaporized in the fire. The rest of the chemicals, along with over 600 tons of heavy fuel oil, remain on board. The 27 members of the crew were rescued.


The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released its report on the sinking of the Tall Ship BOUNTY on Oct. 29, 2012, about 110 nautical miles southeast of Cape Hatteras. The vessel, a replica of the original 18th century British Admiralty ship, was built by MGM studios for the 1962 film “Mutiny on the Bounty.” Two crewmembers died in the accident and three were seriously injured.

The NTSB found that the probable cause of the tragedy was “the captain’s reckless decision to sail the vessel into the well-forecasted path of Hurricane Sandy, which subjected the aging vessel and inexperienced crew to conditions from which the vessel could not recover.” The agency also found that “lack of effective safety oversight by the vessel organization” contributed to the disaster.

According to the owners of the BOUNTY, the ship’s mission was to preserve square-rigged sailing and to promote youth education and sail training. Volunteer crewmembers served on board for voyages lasting from a day to a month. The Coast Guard had certified the ship as a “moored attraction vessel.”

At the time of the accident, only the captain and four members of the crew had more than two years’ experience on board tall ships, according to the NTSB report. Additionally, as a moored attraction vessel, the BOUNTY was not required to have a licensed engineer, or an engineer of any kind, on board. The crew testified at the NTSB hearing that when no engineer was on board, whoever had the most experience would handle duties in the engine room. At the time of the accident, an employee who had worked with tractors and backhoes, but had no professional maritime engineering experience, was serving as engineer.

Tropical weather system Sandy reached hurricane strength on Oct. 24, the day before the BOUNTY was put to sea from New London, Conn., on its way to St. Petersburg, Fla. Crewmembers reported that the captain gathered them in a meeting the night before sailing to express his confidence in the ship’s ability to handle rough weather and to explain he intended to take the BOUNTY well out to sea and let the hurricane pass to the southwest. But on Oct. 27, the captain decided to change course, writing in an e-mail to the vessel management organization that he had decided “to try to sneak to the west of Sandy,” adding that “It looks like it will stay offshore enough (for) us to squeak by.”

“What everyone, especially the captain and senior crew, seemingly failed to anticipate was the damaging effect that prolonged exposure to the storm would have on the wooden vessel,” the NTSB report states. The vessel was taking on water at the rate of two feet per hour, and there was 10 feet of water on board, when the crew began planning to abandon ship. The chief mate testified that he twice recommended to the captain that the crew abandon ship while the vessel was still upright. At 0426, after the BOUNTY heeled hard over to starboard and the bow was buried by a large wave, the crew had to quickly abandon ship, entering the water in total darkness. Crewmembers testified that when the vessel heeled over, the captain, whose body was never recovered, and a female crewmember, who was later found dead, were still on deck.


The government of Ireland’s decision to grant an in-country operating license to Norwegian Air International threatens jobs and working conditions in the international airline industry, says the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department (TTD). MM&P is one of 32 TTD member unions.

“We are disappointed that the government of Ireland has sanctioned Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) launch of a ‘flag-of-convenience’ airline that threatens airline jobs and bargaining rights in the U.S. and Europe,” said TTD President Edward Wytkind. “Without question, this airline operation undermines the clear intent of the governing trade rules between the United States and the European Union–the 2010 Air Transport Agreement–that commit signatories to this pact to promote ‘high labor standards.’”

Wytkind said that by establishing itself in Ireland, NAI is seeking to evade the laws of Norway and the company’s bargaining obligation to its own employees. “NAI is gaming U.S.-EU trade rules to gain an unfair competitive advantage over U.S. and other European air carriers and should not have been rewarded with a license to operate,” Wytkind said. TTD is calling on members of the general public and airline employees in particular to join its #DenyNAI campaign.

“We will continue to press our case in Europe that its own negotiators agreed to labor protections in the ATA and should live up to them in the enforcement of this agreement,” Wytkind said. “And we will redouble our efforts to make sure this Norwegian operation isn’t granted authority by our government to operate its service in the United States.”

This is the first test case before the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on whether the Obama Administration will enforce the worker protections it negotiated in the core of the ATA with its European counterparts. “DOT should deny NAI’s pending application for a Foreign Carrier Permit,” TTD says.


MM&P has expressed its support for members of the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA) who work in the American President Lines (APL) Professional Office and Industrial Division (POID). Last year, APL announced that the logistical operations conducted by the members of the unit were to be relocated from Denver, Colo., to Tennessee, a “right-to-work” state.

The Colorado-based MEBA members are seeking definitive information from APL about wages and benefits should they decide to relocate. “APL’s failure to provide a realistic wage rate and relocation expenses for employees interested in remaining employed with APL has prevented them from making an informed choice on whether to relocate or accept the contractually bargained severance package,” MEBA said in an official statement. The union has asked APL to submit the outstanding issues to expedited arbitration. “Our members and their families have a right under the contract to vital financial information before uprooting family, removing children from school and moving hundreds of miles from their homes,” the union said.


The USCG National Maritime Center (NMC) issued an announcement stating that Regional Exam Center (REC) in Miami suffered minor damage when the fire sprinkler system was activated. The agency said the REC will only be open for testing purposes on Tuesday and Wednesday, but will be fully operational on Thursday, Feb. 20. It said no records were lost in the incident.


There has been a lot of information in the news lately about the so-called “Cadillac Tax” provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Under the present law, this tax on high-cost insurance plans is scheduled to start in the 2018 tax year.

While there is no clear guidance on how the tax will be calculated, under one reasonable interpretation, for multiemployer plans such as the MM&P Health & Benefit Plan, the tax would kick in when the cost of the Plan exceeds $27,500. In the future, this amount would be indexed to inflation.

The Plan’s consultants have reviewed the current costs of the Plan by MM&P Membership Group and, under the interpretation described above, even with compounded cost increases of 8 percent per year, it is not expected that this tax would affect the benefits payable to Offshore participants.

In 2020 or 2022, however, it might result in a modest tax with respect to the benefits available to the Pilot and United Inland Groups. It is important to note, in any case, that the tax is only on the cost of the Plan above the specific threshold and would be paid by the Plan and not the Plan’s participants.

Please also note there are still about four years before this tax is scheduled to take effect. Congress can make changes to the laws affecting this tax and there could be different rules than those described here. We will keep the membership posted as to any updates we receive.


There will be Offshore Membership Division meetings in the following ports on the indicated dates: San Francisco/Oakland, Thursday, Feb. 20, directly after 11:00 job call; Seattle, Thursday, Feb. 27, directly after 11:00 job call; Honolulu, Wednesday, March 5, directly after 10:00 job call. All members in the area are urged to attend.


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


Transportation fatalities in the United States increased by three percent in 2012 from 2011, according to preliminary figures released last week by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). As in previous years, the vast majority of maritime fatalities occurred in recreational boating. The number of maritime deaths dropped in 2012, from 803 to 706.

The data indicate that transportation fatalities in all modes totaled 35,531 in 2012, compared to 34,551 in 2011. Although maritime, aviation and pipeline deaths declined, highway and rail fatalities showed an increase. Deaths on U.S. roadways, which account for nearly 94 percent of all transportation deaths, increased from 32,479 in 2011 to 33,561 in 2012.


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


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

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

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

Please note the special addition to our on-campus schedule of MSC classes marked with an asterisk (*), which are not normally scheduled to be held at MITAGS.

AB – 3/24/14, 8/11/14, 10/13/14

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

ARPA-OIC – Automated Radar Plotting Aids: 4/1/14, 8/5/14, 9/23/14, 11/18/14

AZIPOD 2-Day – 5/7/14, 5/19/14, 7/10/14, 10/9/14

BRM-35 – Bridge Resource Management: 3/24/14, 6/2/14, 8/25/14, 10/13/14

BRMP –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 3/3/14, 4/14/14, 5/22/14, 8/20/14, 9/22/14, 11/20/14

BRMP-EMR –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots with Emergency Shiphandling: 3/5/14, 4/29/14, 7/7/14, 10/6/14

BST – Basic Safety Training: 4/7/14, 6/9/14, 8/11/14, 10/6/14

CHS-OIC – Cargo Handling Basic: 4/14/14, 10/27/14

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

ADVNAV-CMM – Advanced Navigation (=ECDIS & VPEN): 2/24/14, 6/2/14, 8/4/14, 11/10/14

ADVSTB-CMM – Advanced Stability: 4/28/14, 6/23/14, 9/22/14

ADVWX-CMM – Advanced Meteorology: 3/10/14, 6/16/14, 9/8/14

CHS-CMM – Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 5/5/14, 7/7/14, 9/29/14

ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display Information System: 2/24/14, 5/5/14, 6/2/14, 7/14/14, 8/4/14, 10/20/14, 11/10/14

MCL-CMM – Management, Communication, & Leadership (Management Level): 3/17/14, 5/19/14, 9/15/14

MPP-CMM – Marine Propulsion Plants:  3/31/14, 7/21/14, 10/27/14

SHMGT-CMM- Ship Management (2 weeks): 4/7/14, 8/18/14, 10/13/14

SHS-ADV-I-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 3/10/14, 4/7/14, 4/28/14, 6/9/14, 8/4/14, 9/8/14, 9/22/14, 10/20/14, 11/3/14, 12/1/14

SHS-ADV-I-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 2/24/14, 3/17/14, 4/14/14, 5/5/14, 6/16/14, 8/11/14, 9/15/14, 9/29/14, 10/27/14, 11/10/14, 12/8/14

VPEN-CMM – Voyage Planning & Electronic Navigation: 3/3/14, 6/9/14, 8/11/14, 11/17/14

WKP-CMM – Advanced Watchkeeping: 4/21/14, 7/28/14, 11/3/14

CNAV-OIC – Celestial Navigation: 4/28/14, 11/3/14

CONT PLNG – Contingency Planning Workshop:

CRISIS-COMMS – Crisis Communications:  10/7/14

DDE – Great Lakes:


ECDIS-OIC –9/8/14

ECDIS-Pilots – 3/5/14, 5/19/14

FF-BADV – Fire Fighting Combined Basic & Advanced: 4/7/14, 6/9/14, 8/11/14, 10/6/14

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep & Medications:  5/21/14, 11/19/14

GL Pilot – Great Lakes Pilotage Familiarization:

GMDSS – Global Maritime Distress and Safety System: 3/17/14, 8/18/14

HAZ – Hazardous Materials (5 day): 6/23/14, 9/15/14, 11/17/14

LAP- 3/10/14, 9/8/14

LAP-Great Lakes – License Advancement Program – Great Lakes

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

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 3/5/14, 5/21/14, 7/8/14, 10/7/14, 11/20/14

LNG-TPIC – 4/7/14

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

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge: 4/21/14, 6/16/14, 9/8/14, 11/3/14, 12/1/14

MED-PIC-REF– Medical Person in Charge Refresher: 5/12/14, 8/4/14, 10/13/14

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 3/17/14, 4/21/14, 6/16/14, 9/8/14, 10/20/14, 11/3/14, 12/1/14

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing: 2/22/14, 3/22/14, 4/26/14, 6/21/14, 8/3/14, 9/13/14, 10/12/14, 11/8/14, 12/6/14

MSA –Maritime Security Awareness: 5/5/14 (PM), 8/4/14 (PM), 10/6/14 (PM)

[MSC – Military Sealift Command Courses]

MSC-CBRD-1 – Military Sealift Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense Orientation (Basic): 3/14/14, 6/6/14, 8/22/14, 10/3/14

MSC-DC – Military Sealift Command Damage Control (4 Evenings): 3/10/14, 6/2/14, 8/18/14, 9/29/14

MSC-SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualification:  3/10/14, 6/2/14, 8/18/14, 9/29/14, 11/10/14

*MSC-SECURITY WATCH BASIC – Contact Admissions


*MSC-Ship’s Reaction Force – Contact Admissions

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 3/31/14, 8/4/14, 9/22/14, 11/17/14

ROR-1N – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 2/19/14, 2/20/14, 3/6/14, 3/20/14, 4/2/14, 4/16/14, 4/30/14, 5/7/14, 5/14/14, 6/5/14, 6/18/14, 7/9/14, 7/24/14, 8/6/14, 8/20/14, 9/10/14, 9/17/14, 10/1/14, 10/15/14, 10/29/14, 11/12/14, 12/3/14, 12/10/14

ROU-OIC – Radar Observer Program – Unlimited: 4/7/14, 7/28/14, 11/10/14

SAR-OIC – Search & Rescue – 4/7/14, 10/13/14

SHS-BAS-OIC – Basic Shiphandling:  5/12/14, 6/16/14, 8/18/14, 11/17/14

SHS-EMR5 – Emergency Shiphandling-5 Day: 3/3/14, 7/14/14, 10/6/14

STB-OIC – Ship Construction and Basic Stability: 8/4/14

TCNAV/CO – Terrestrial Navigation and Compasses: 7/7/14

TPIC – Tankerman Person in Charge:  2/24/14, 8/25/14

TTT – Train the Trainer: 4/7/14

VPDSD – Vessel Personnel with Designated Security Duties: 5/6/14, 8/5/14, 10/7/14

VSO – Vessel Security Officer: 3/21, 5/7/14, 8/6/14, 9/2/14, 10/8/14

WKP-OIC – Watchkeeping (Operational Level) : 3/3/14, 9/29/14

WX-OIC –Meteorology (Operational Level) : 2/24/13, 9/15/14

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

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


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

February 2014

24-28   Medical Care Provider
26-28   Vessel Security Officer

March 2014

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

April 2014

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

The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly is the official electronic newsletter of the International Organization of Masters, Mates, and Pilots, ILA, AFL-CIO, 700 Maritime Blvd. Suite B, Linthicum Heights, MD 21090-1953. Phone: 410-850-8700; Fax: 410-850-0973; Email: For further info or to subscribe contact Lisa Rosenthal at The Wheelhouse Weekly is sent via Email to MM&P-contracted vessels at sea and is posted on our web page.

© 2014, International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots. All the material contained in this publication is protected by copyright. For permission to reprint text from the Weekly, contact the MM&P Communications Department: For changes of address, contact Lisa Rosenthal at