Wheelhouse Weekly – February 28, 2012

February 28th 2012


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

Volume 16 . . . . . Number 9. . . . February 28, 2012


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


Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp says his agency will confront likely reductions in its budget next year with “renewed emphasis on traditional concepts of leadership,” as well as a concerted drive to eliminate redundancies and reinvest in priority activities. Papp made the remarks on Feb. 23 in his annual State of the Coast Guard Address, which this year was entitled “Navigating Uncertain and Stormy Seas.”

“Our nation has made hard decisions to cut our deficit and put our fiscal house in order,” Papp said. “These decisions include reductions in defense spending… and after a decade of significant budgetary growth, they will likely include reductions in Coast Guard spending.”

He said the Coast Guard will confront the challenge with “renewed emphasis on traditional concepts of leadership… particularly command authority, responsibility and accountability.” As an example, he said the agency now conducts screening panels for all command positions, whether operational or support.

Papp said the 2013 Coast Guard budget calls for staff reductions, but that these will allow it to retarget funds to key initiatives, including rebuilding its fleet of cutters, aircraft and boats, and building “maritime experience and credibility [by] sending more new [USCG] officers to afloat assignments.”

“We will not allow our mission support capacity to be reduced to the point where we cannot maintain acceptable levels of readiness,” he told the audience who attended his speech in Alameda. “We will not allow our Service to become a hollow operational force.”

Papp closed his speech with a shout-out to the crew of Coast Guard Cutter HEALY, under the command of Capt. Beverly Havlik, which broke through hundreds of miles of Arctic ice in January to enable a tanker to deliver fuel to Nome, Alaska. Members of the MM&P Pilot Membership Group were central to the success of the dramatic voyage across the Bering Sea: the Alaska Marine Pilots were heavily involved in all stages of the planning and execution of the project, lending much needed expertise. 

HEALY is now the Coast Guard’s only operational polar ice breaker, but Papp says the agency expects to return POLAR STAR to operations in 2013. He called the Nome expedition, “a shared moment of pride” for everyone in the Coast Guard. 


In a sign that the global economy is improving, container volumes at the Port of New York and New Jersey increased last year by four percent. The port handled 5.5 million TEUs in 2011, surpassing the record set in 2007, before the start of the world economic downturn.


The NOL Group last week reported a $478 million net loss for 2011. A corporate spokesperson attributed the result to the poor economy, rising fuel costs and low freight rates. “We are urgently addressing costs and other factors under our control to improve the performance of the container shipping business,” said NOL Group Chief Executive Officer Ng Yat Chung in an official statement. The group had reported net earnings of $461 million in 2010.


MM&P members aboard USNS PFC EUGENE A. OBREGON were proud participants in Exercise Bold Alligator 2012, the largest naval amphibious exercise in the past 10 years. The joint Navy-Marine Corps exercise involved the full range of amphibious operations. Participants in Bold Alligator included 25 ships and 20,000 people: U.S. sailors and marines, units from the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Australia and the Netherlands, as well as Maritime Prepositioning Force ships and their civilian crews.

With only two weeks remaining on the operating contract for MM&P members aboard the OBREGON, the ship sailed from Newport News under the command of Capt. Don Agold and successfully completed its mission in the finest tradition of MM&P. After approximately 27 years under contract with Waterman Steamship Corporation, the operating contract for the MSC-owned ship was awarded to Keystone Prepositioning Services Inc.

LDOs sailing with Capt. Agold during Bold Alligator were Chief Mate Darin Huggins, Second Mate Brian D. Thomas and Third Mate Blake Archer. “OBREGON deck officers carried out their duties as true professionals, delivering the marines and Seabees, along with their equipment, to landing beaches at Camp Lejeune,” Agold said.

OBREGON sailed on Feb. 5 after loading the Improved Navy Lighterage System, a dozen Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAVs), ten twenty-foot containers and various pieces of rolling stock. The first event after anchoring was the launch of the Marine Corps-operated AAVs. Next, lighterage was offloaded by the ship’s crew and active duty personnel. OBREGON then moved to an anchorage nearer shore, where the Navy streamed three miles of hose to operate the Afloat Bulk Liquid Transfer System, and the ship’s cargo water was pumped to shore to simulate fuel. Following the backload at anchor, OBREGON returned to Newport News Feb. 14 for a two-day offload at the dock.

“You and your crew have done a splendid job both in ROS and in FOS,” Navy Capt. Ricks W. Polk, head of Maritime Prepositioning Squadron One, told Capt. Agold. That sentiment extends as well to MM&P members aboard the USNS MAJ. STEPHEN W. PLESS and SGT. MATEJ KOCAK, who served so professionally in peace and war for the last 27 years.


Two Italian marines who were part of a vessel protection detachment on board the tanker ENRICA LEXIE are being held in Kerala, India, on charges of murder for killing two Indian fishermen they thought were pirates. The incident took place on Feb. 15.

Italy argues the marines should not be prosecuted in India because the tanker was sailing in international waters when the incident took place. Italy also asserts that the deployment of armed guards on Italian-flag merchant ships is regulated by Italian law, in conformance with United Nations’ anti-piracy resolutions. Authorities in Kerala say they plan to try the marines for murder under Indian law in a local court.

Italy’s deputy foreign minister rushed to India to meet with local officials in the wake of the incident. Italy’s foreign minister is expected to arrive in India to address the situation sometime this week.

Legal authorities in Rome have meanwhile opened their own investigation. The Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports that this may be an indication that Italy believes the marines are guilty of the charges leveled against them. The Italian investigators are said to be awaiting the results of the autopsies of the two fishermen and examination of the marines’ weapons.

It is likely that the incident will reopen the International Maritime Organization (IMO) debate over the carriage of armed security guards aboard merchant ships. Up to now, the IMO had focused on privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASP), vetted and contracted by the ship owner in a private capacity. This case, however, involves military personnel in a vessel protection detachment (VPD), assumed to be operating in a governmental capacity, under military command and control procedures. While the IMO has issued guidance to ship owners and flag states on the use of force by PCASPs, the organization has not addressed the rules of engagement or command and control procedures for military personnel in a VPD.

Among the questions that are pending: whether the IMO–a United Nations organization created to regulate shipping—can exercise authority to regulate the military forces of a sovereign nation; and the lack of legal clarity regarding the relative rights, responsibilities and legal jurisdiction of flag states and port states for crimes that occur in international waters. The IMO has been reluctant to address these issues in the past. Perhaps the ENRICA LEXIE incident will move the debate forward.


An engine room fire that broke out on Monday left the COSTA ALLEGRA, sister ship to the vessel that ran aground off the coast of Italy on Jan. 13, stranded in the Indian Ocean. As this issue of the Wheelhouse Weekly was being distributed, the COSTA ALLEGRA was being towed to the main island in the Seychelles, where it is expected to arrive Thursday morning. Costa Cruise Lines said that helicopters are supplying the ship with food, and that passengers are sleeping on the decks.

In related news, salvage crews have removed most of the fuel from the COSTA CONCORDIA. As of last week, approximately two-thirds of the 500,000 gallons of fuel on board had been pumped out. Salvors say they will need at least three weeks to extract the remaining fuel, which is located in tanks more difficult to tap. Once all the fuel has been removed, the vessel will either be dragged away whole or cut up and towed. The entire operation could take almost a year.

In the meantime, former COSTA CONCORDIA Capt. Francesco Schettino is facing additional charges in Italy, including abandonment of incapacitated passengers and failure to inform maritime authorities of an accident. He was already facing charges of manslaughter and abandoning ship. Five other ship’s officers and three managers of the Carnival Cruise Lines subsidiary Costa Cruises, which owns the vessel, are also being targeted by investigators.


MITAGS-PMI is seeking part-time simulator operators for the Transas simulation system. A simulator operator is primarily responsible for the performance of, and planning for, the use of the simulators in all courses and assists other team members of the Engineering Department in service and support of computer network systems.  Major duties include preparing and operating ship simulators for any course requiring their use, assisting Simulation Engineers in the daily simulation system checks and problem solving, assisting in the development of ship models and databases for simulation systems by organizing and preparing documentation of model and database testing as well as other reports as required and other duties within the scope of the position as assigned by the Supervisor.

Desired qualifications include background or degree in Computer Science/Engineering or other related field, with two years’ experience in network support, systems integration and programming, experience servicing and designing local area networks and personal computer systems and analyzing computer systems, knowledge of, or work experience in the maritime industry, able to work flexible hours, to include early morning, evening and/or weekend schedules, excellent writing and communications skills, and proficiency in use of Microsoft Office suite. This position requires moderate physical activity.  If you are interested in this position, forward a cover letter and resume to MITAGS Director of Training Eric Friend at


Union members can save big on their car insurance. Last year, union members who switched to Union Plus Auto Insurance through 21st Century Insurance saved an average of $525.80 a year compared to policyholders of Allstate, Geico, Progressive and other companies. Union members are entitled to great coverage features, including: evening and weekend policy servicing hours, quick claims settlement and guaranteed repairs at a certified repair facility. And as a 21st Century Insurance policyholder, you can enjoy 24-hour Roadside Assistance at no additional charge. To find out more, get a quote and start saving, go to, or call 1-800-246-0825.


As has been reported in the MM&P magazine, The Master, Mate & Pilot, the MM&P Health & Benefit has made arrangements to offer a voluntary disability insurance benefit. Under this voluntary program, paid for by the active participant, the participant submits an application to the insurance broker and, if approved, will be allowed to pay for the insurance on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. The insurance is through Lloyd’s of London and the broker is Willis, located in Potomac, Md. The contact person is Angela Mitchell. Her toll-free number is 800-456-3162 ext. 3032 or 301-692-3032. She can be reached 9:00–5:00 p.m. EST.

Interested active participants may call her to obtain additional information and rate quotes. As this article was being written, the revised brochure was not yet available. As soon as this information is received by the Plan, we will send notification to the Ports and post the brochure on

We have already posted sample premiums for the insurance, based on age, for people aged 40, 45 and 55. Those who purchase coverage will be asked to decide on the Elimination Period, or in other words, how long they would have to wait before the policy begins to pay. The choices of Elimination Period are 60, 90, 180 or 365 days. The other option is Term of Insurance: choices are 12, 24, 36, 48 or 60 months. To view the examples, go to, click on MM&P Plans, then on H&B Forms, and then on Disability Insurance.


The MM&P Houston Hall will move on or about Feb. 25. The new address will be:
13850 Gulf Freeway, Suite 250, Houston, TX 77034. The new phone numbers will be: 281-464-9650 (phone) and 281-464-9652 (fax).


A two-day conference, “Revitalizing the Maritime Industry,” will be held at MITAGS on May 7-8 by The Maritime Executive. America’s marine highways have been underutilized for decades due to failed federal policies and inadequate funding mechanisms. Today, while the infrastructure is in place, U.S. vessel operators, shipbuilders, training institutions and port authorities have been overlooked as vital assets in the U.S. economic recovery plan. The Maritime Executive, with your support, aims to change that perspective in Congress and, most importantly, among the American people. To register for the event, go to:


The Offshore Familiarization Course, formerly called the D-Book Membership Course, will be held at regular intervals throughout 2012.

The schedule is as follows (but please note that course dates may change depending on the number of participants who sign up): April 3-4 in Boston; April 11-12 in Los Angeles; May 29-30 in New Orleans; May 30-31 in Charleston; June 8-9 at MM&P Headquarters; Sept. 7-8 at MM&P Headquarters; Oct. 9-10 in New Jersey; Oct. 10-11 in Los Angeles; Nov. 7-8 in Houston.

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 urged to attend.

If you want to attend the course, please RSVP to the local hiring hall where the class is offered or, in the case of a course planned for headquarters, to MM&P Membership Secretary Mary Seidman:


Given the number of required company training courses, it is extremely important for new members to request a transcript review to determine whether they meet the course equivalency requirements.

The courses that are eligible for equivalency are listed in the MITAGS Trust Student Guide located on in the MM&P Member Section. You may also request a copy from Diane Ford ( or call 443-989-3238). Remember, the dispatcher in the union hall cannot assign you a job unless you meet the company’s training requirements!

Did you know that you can view your course history on Just go to the “Members Only” section and click the “Course History” tab. You can print the course list yourself.


Try our on-line interactive calendar to register for class:

For class availability, contact Admissions Coordinator Kelly Michielli toll-free at 866-656-5568 or e-mail:

AB � Able Bodied Seaman: 5/21, 6/11

AIS-1 � Automatic Identification Systems (one day): 5/10, 6/6

ARPA – Automated Radar Plotting Aids: 3/13, 4/5

BRM – Bridge Resource Management: 4/30

BRMP – Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 5/9, 6/7

BST � Basic Safety Training: 4/9, 6/25

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

CMM-ADVWX – Advanced Meteorology: 3/19, 6/11

CMM-ADVNAV – Advanced Navigation (=ECDIS & VPEN): 3/5, 5/14

CMM-ADVSTB � Advanced Stability: 4/9, 6/25

CMM-CHS � Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 4/16

CMM-ECDIS � Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems: 5/21

CMM-MPP – Marine Propulsion Plants: 3/26, 6/4

CMM-SHMGT – Ship Management (2 weeks): 4/30

CMM-SHS-ADV-I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 3/12, 3/26, 4/9, 5/14, 6/11

CMM-SHS-ADV-I I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 3/5, 3/19, 4/2, 4/16, 5/21, 6/18

CMM-WKP � Advanced Watchkeeping: 4/2, 6/18

CNAV – Celestial Navigation: 4/30

CONSTAB – Ship Construction and Basic Stability: 4/9

CONT PLNG – Contingency Planning: 3/15, 5/11

ECDIS-ENAV (2 DAY) for Pilots: 3/1, 6/4

ENAV – Electronic Navigation: 3/19

ENVIRO-Regs Permit – Environmental Regulations Permit: 3/13, 5/21

EP � Emergency Procedures: 4/25

FF-BADV � Combined Basic and Advanced Fire Fighting: 4/9, 6/25

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep and Medications for Pilots: 3/16, 6/6

GMDSS – Global Maritime Distress Safety Signal: 2/20

HAZ – Hazardous Materials (5 day): 3/5, 6/11

LAP – License Advancement Program for Chief Mate & Master: 3/19

LAP-ORG 3rd � License Advancement Program for Original 3/Mate: 6/4

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 3/1, 4/18, 5/9

MCL – Management, Communication & Leadership: 3/26

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge: 3/19, 4/16, 6/11

MED-PIC -R– Medical Person in Charge Refresher: 3/5, 5/14

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 3/19, 4/16, 6/11

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing: 3/24, 4/21, 6/16

MSC -SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualification: 3/12, 6/4

MSC-DC � Military Sealift Command Damage Control (4 Evenings): 6/4

MSC-CBRD-1 � Military Sealaif Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense Orientation (Basic): 6/8

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 3/7, 3/21, 4/4

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 3/12, 4/1, 4/18, 5/2, 5/6, 6/13, 6/27

ROP-5 � Radar Observer Original and Renewal: 4/23

SAR � Search & Rescue: 4/23

SEC-VCF – Security Officer, Vessel, Company & Facility: 3/12, 5/7

SHS-BAS � Basic Shiphandling: 4/23, 5/14, 6/25

SHS-ESH-BRMP3 – Emergency Shiphandling and Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 4/2

SHS-EMR5 – Emergency Shiphandling: 3/5, 5/7

TPIC-DL – Tankerman Person in Charge Dangerous Liquids: 3/5, 5/21

WKP BAS – Basic Watchkeeping: 3/5

WX-BAS – Basic Meteorology: 3/26
…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.


Schedule of Courses – Please also see our schedule online at
For registration, call our registrar, Jennifer Pitzen, at (206) 838-1126.
March 2012
5-9          ECDIS
12-16     Radar Observer Unlimited
12-23     GMDSS
12-30     License Preparation (Mate – 500Ton, 1600Ton, 3rd Unlimited)
20-21     Safety Management Systems
22-23     Build Your Own Internal Auditing Team Seminar
26th       Radar Renewal
26-30     Medical Care Provider


D O W N A S D A Q S & P 500
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 Spartan US Equity Index Fund (FUSEX)
 Domini Social Equity Fund (DSEFX)

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.

© 2012, 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