Wheelhouse Weekly – February 27, 2003

February 27th 2003


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

Volume 7 . . . . . Number 9. . . . . February 27, 2003






Mariners renewing their license or Z-cards should be aware that some USCG Regional Exam Centers are now only accepting the “Drug Free Certificates” from Greystone Health Services or other USCG approved drug testing agencies. Any other drug test certifications will no longer be accepted.

Upon request Greystone will send duplicate “Drug Free Certificates” on their own stationary to members and applicants so that they can satisfy the USCG. Request forms for this purpose are available at MM&P West Coast ports, which is where this USCG demand is now being enforced.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Earlier this month, the USCG began using a more tamper-resistant form to renew and reissue Merchant Mariner Documents. Designed to enhance maritime security, the new form facilitates verification of an MMD holder’s identity, citizenship, and qualifications to sail US-flag vessels.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The leaders of 35 AFL-CIO transportation unions that make up the Transportation Trades Department (TTD) stood together earlier this week to recognize and support the men and women of the United States Merchant Marine for “answering the call to duty in America’s continuing war against terrorism.” The MM&P is a member of the TTD and was represented by International President Capt. Tim Brown.

“Despite the crucial role they serve in protecting US interests at home and abroad, US merchant mariners are often not afforded the credit they deserve. This is because they do their jobs outside the lens of the global media.

“In doing their jobs they do not seek publicity and rarely get any. They do their jobs and answer the call to duty to support our troops because they are patriots. As such, they should be recognized as among organized labor’s finest and indeed America’s unsung heroes,” TTD declared.

Calling US merchant marine the nation’s fourth arm of defense, the Executive Committee of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) noted the critical role merchant mariners serve in providing the critical sealift support to the nation’s armed forces.

“US merchant mariners have fulfilled these essential services in every major conflict and national emergency since the nation’s beginning,” TTD leaders noted in their unanimously adopted resolution.

In Operation Enduring Freedom, the largest military operation to ever fight the global war against terrorism, the US merchant marine has once again responded to our nation’s call to duty. Serving in the largest activation of US merchant vessels since Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, the merchant mariners and their unions have crewed the US government’s cargo ships in record time, often within 24 hours of activation.

“Currently more than 150,000 troops in the Middle East are relying upon our merchant mariners to supply them with necessary tools, provisions and equipment such as jeeps, tanks, helicopters, ammunition, daily food rations, and water purification systems to win the war against terrorism,” TTD said. For a copy of the resolution, visit

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The US Coast Guard welcomed Homeland Security Department Secretary Tom Ridge aboard earlier this week as its new chief civilian during a symbolic transfer of leadership.

The USCG has been part of the Department of Transportation since 1967. On March 1, it and 21 other federal agencies officially merge into the Department of Homeland Security.

At the transfer ceremony held earlier this week in the District of Columbia Armory, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta praised Ridge’s “demonstrated great leadership.” He then asked Ridge to take good care of the Coast Guard, declaring, “They’ll take care of you — and all of us.”

Ridge told hundreds of Coast Guardsmen that he welcomed the “extraordinary opportunity to serve with you as the Secretary of the Coast Guard, and I look forward to our years of service together.”

The USCG, established in 1790, has met many challenges while it has maintained its strength of character and purpose — especially since Sept.11, 2001, Ridge said.

“The Coast Guard has not only flourished, it has risen to meet the very real challenge of protecting our nation’s coasts, ports and waterways from the threat of terrorism while continuing to perform its traditional search and rescue and drug interdiction missions.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



DOT Secretary Norman Mineta has approved an extension until December 12, 2003 of the authority to provide war risk insurance under Section 1202 of the 1936 Merchant Marine Act. This insurance or reinsurance of vessels is available for vessels (including cargoes and crew) entering the Middle East region, whenever commercial insurance cannot be obtained on reasonable terms and conditions.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



During the first week after a new federal shipping rule was enforced, the Customs Service refused to let just over a dozen sea containers destined for the US be loaded onto ships at foreign ports because of insufficient details about their contents.

The violations were discovered between Feb.2-9, and involved 11 sea carriers. The problem containers were destined for US ports, including Los Angeles and New York.

Of more than 142,000 sea containers processed during that week, only 13 containers presented a problem.

Under the regulation, sea carriers must provide details of the contents of containers destined for the US 24 hours before the cargo is loaded onto ships at foreign ports.

With 5.7 million cargo containers entering US seaports each year, Customs says it is vital to prevent terrorists from using sea containers to smuggle nuclear, chemical, biological or other deadly weapons into this country.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Addressing the Maritime Trades Department’s Annual Meeting in Miami last week, Maritime Administrator Capt. William Schubert said MarAd’s latest maritime security initiatives are on course. The following are highlights of his remarks:

Here at home, unprecedented measures have been taken to defend against terrorism including enhancing the security of our ports and training mariners in security measures.

The Bush Administration has also been instrumental in proposing surface transportation reauthorization legislation that ensures the highest possible funding for investment in our country’s transportation infrastructure, constrained only by the resources available.

To support our fight against terrorism as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, we have activated 34 vessels from the Ready Reserve Force (RRF), and we have four vessels already serving on long-term assignment. The RRF ensures that our nation can maintain the surge capability needed to respond to threats during war or national crisis, and it guarantees quick-response shipping with 72 vessels designed to meet special Military Sealift Command requirements.

Since the activation began in January (2003), the RRF has provided 18.7 percent of the sealift square footage utilized. This equates to more than 2,538,000 square feet of cargo capacity to the MSC to support Operation Enduring Freedom. Comparably, MSC has provided 63.4 percent of the capacity, and the remaining 18 percent have come from US and foreign commercial operators.

The labor unions have definitely come through to man these vessels on short notice, and the spirit of the US merchant marine is shown through the high number of calls we have received from mariners volunteering to crew ships. DOT Secretary Norman Mineta best characterized this volunteer spirit when he recently stated:

“The maritime community has served America with great distinction during every major crisis in our Nation’s history, and the mariners who crew the ships are the cornerstone of this effort. From the Revolutionary War, through both World Wars and up to today, our mariners have defended and served this nation with enthusiasm and valor.”

We must safeguard our nation from the possibility of weapons of mass destruction being hidden aboard vessels that enter our ports. To be successful we must increase security of our ports, vessels, and cargo and our mariners must be trained in maritime security practices.

There are also many other initiatives we are working on, including examining the potential for conducting background checks and issuing transportation worker identification cards, and evaluating Mariner Administrative Smart Cards.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The Cargo Handling Cooperative Project (CHCP) has initiated a major project, testing and evaluating e-seal technologies for intermodal freight containers. Electronic seals have been put forward as a way to address the security challenges presented by intermodal freight containers.

All available electronic seal systems will be evaluated including eSeal, DataSeal, Smart Seal, AllSeal, and McSemaNalink. Testing will be conducted in a laboratory, a large marine terminal, and with computer simulations.

Results of the e-seal technology program will be made available to CHCP members, the participating marine ports and terminals, and government organizations that are considering the potential role for electronic seals to secure intermodal container shipments.

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. 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 Email: or phone: 813-228-8766.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Class Openings

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

  • 3/3-28: MED-SMC
  • 3/3-7: ARPA, TPIC
  • 3/10-14: COMP-ABSS
  • 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

The following MSC courses are now standard offerings at MITAGS and are thus not covered under the MSC Reimbursement Program:

  • Small Arms (SMA)
  • Strategic Sealift Communications (MSC-COMMS)
  • Environmental Protection (MSC-ENVPRO)
  • Chemical, Biological, and Radiological Defense Orientation (CBRD-1)
  • Damage Control (MSC-DC); and
  • Anti-Terrorism Threat Awareness Seminar
  • The MSC courses now available off-site are:
  • Helicopter Control Officer
  • Anti-Terrorism Officer
  • Helicopter Fire Fighting; and
  • Chemical, Biological, and Radiological Defense Officer

In order to be eligible for any reimbursement, quotas for these off-site courses must be arranged through MITAGS.


Advanced Cargo-handling Prerequisite

Completion of Advanced Stability (CMM-ADVSTB) will be a prerequisite for the MITAGS Advanced Cargo Handling Course. All candidates for Chief Mate/Master falling under the new scheme as outlined in NMC Policy Ltr 04-02 will thus have to take CMM-ADVSTB first.


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


-193.70 for the week


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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 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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