Wheelhouse Weekly – January 12, 2006

January 12th 2006


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

Volume 10 . . . . . Number 2 . . . . January 12, 2006



T-AGS Oceanographic Survey Ships Info

Required Coursework

Security Clearances

MSC Physicals

MM&P Health & Benefit Plan News

Notice to Members who are taking Vioxx

NMHC Mail-Order Prescriptions Website Updated & Improved

WWII USCG Veterans Outreach

Company Gives Bucks Back for buying Safe Shoes

Website Offers Union-Made Goods and Services



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



As of January 1, all licensed deck officers on MM&P- contracted Horizon vessels are now contractually required to have taken the Ships Security Course. MM&P Vice President for Atlantic Ports Rich May reports that after January 1, you must have completed this course to bid on a Horizon vessel. If you are currently on a Horizon vessel and do not have this course you will be allowed to complete your assignment as long as you remain onboard. If you get off for a Leave of Absence you must have completed the course in order to return for the balance of the assignment.




MM&P Atlantic Ports Vice President Rich May reports that the union has signed a new contract with E-Ships that extends for the duration of the current Maritime Security Program. The new contract covers the ENDURANCE, ENDEAVOR and ENTERPRISE and took effect on Jan. 1. It provides for a 3 percent raise in wages and all wage-related items for 2006 and increases in all future years.

Masters are guaranteed a raise in overtime to two hours per day. Second and third mates vacation has been increased by one day in the second year of the contract and by an additional day in the fifth year of the contract. The foreign port night differential, a wage-related item, will increase in the second year and each year thereafter.

MM&P also signed a one-year contract for the SS ARGONAUT that contains a 4 1/2 percent wage and wage-related item increase effective Jan. 1 and an additional day of vacation for all licensed deck officers.


The 880-foot German-owned containership APL PANAMA that ran aground on Christmas Day remains firmly beached near the approach to the Port of Ensenada, Mexico. According a Jan.11 posting on the APL web site, fuel and ballast water are being removed to lighten the load and to reduce the risk of oil pollution. There is no sign of cargo damage aboard the vessel. Generators have been installed on the ship to power the reefers. Additional equipment has been mobilized to assist in the re-floating efforts. Salvors have begun an attempt to reposition the ship and renewed efforts to pull her off the beach will coincide with high lunar tides expected in the next few days.


A new report suggests that Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) along with other hi-tech bridge equipment may have an unintended consequence in promoting over-confidence and complacency among bridge personnel. With the advent of AIS, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Automatic Radar Plotting Aid and electronic charts, bridge teams now have the full picture of all vessels in their vicinity, with complete tracking and speed data. Yet, with all of the sophisticated electronics, the report states that there are too many collisions that still occur.

The report suggests that because bridge crews have so much confidence in the accuracy of their electronic navigation equipment, they may decrease the traditional safety distances between vessels. With the decrease in the separation distance between ships underway comes an increase for collisions. One issue identified in the report is the concentration of vessels on the “optimum track” as indicated by GPS. There is a temptation by bridge personnel to accept narrow safety margins that leave no room for error. The report states that traditional safety margins must be maintained in these situations to accommodate the possibility of error or misunderstanding.

Five of the six major collisions that took place during the Swedish Insurers Club’s 18-month study, which ran from Feb. 2004 to July 2005, were found to be the consequence of human factors. These factors included the lack of situational awareness as well as the failure to adhere to rules and use accepted procedures. All six collisions occurred during the night hours or in poor visibility in calm sea conditions. In two of the six collisions, AIS was in use as a navigational aid. In one instance, the wrong ship was contacted at a critical moment. In the other, the AIS was not functioning correctly.

The report noted that while AIS is regarded as the last piece in the collision avoidance technological matrix, the human component must always be taken into consideration. No matter how advanced the equipment on the bridge, there can be no compromise with respect to strict adherence to correct collision avoidance procedures, which provide for appropriate safety margins. Close passing is always dangerous, with or without the new technology.

The report also noted that safe navigation in busy waters is demanding and requires intense concentration. Given the pressures of modern ship operation, the report cautioned that there are no grounds for adopting a collision avoidance strategy with low safety margins. The Swedish Club’s report states that there is no immunity against human error or the possibility that other vessels will not behave as expected.


Capt. Richard Smith, who was at the helm of the Staten Island ferry ANDREW J. BARBERI when it crashed into a pier killing 11 passengers in 2003, has been sentenced to 18 months in jail for his role in the incident. Smith reportedly fell asleep while piloting the vessel and then fled the scene after the crash. He was later found at his home where he tried to commit suicide.

The city’s former Ferry Director, Patrick Ryan, was also sentenced to one year and a day in prison for failing to enforce the city Department of Transportation’s two-pilot rule, which might have prevented the crash.

In a report on the incident, blame was also directed at Iris Weinshall, a top official with the New York City Department of Transportation. The report found that she and her staff failed to provide adequate oversight that led to a “dangerous, systemic breakdown in the operations of the New York City Ferry system.” Ms. Weinshall is married to Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY). She was appointed to her position by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and was kept in the post by current Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

According to media reports, more than $3 billion in civil claims have been filed against the city as a result of the accident. New York City has been fighting to limit its liability to a total of $14.4 million.


The Director of the Port of New Orleans says that the port is making progress in its efforts to recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and is now receiving about 20 ship calls per week. Before the huge storm crippled the port about 40 ships were calling on a weekly basis. Port Director Gary LaGrange said he hopes to get the port back to about 70 percent of its previous volume by the second quarter of 2006.

LaGrange says that there are many issues still facing the port’s recovery, including those involving truck drivers and longshoremen. The port would also welcome the return of cruise ships. Before Katrina, approximately 700,000 cruise passengers arrived at the port each year. LaGrange estimated damage to the port to be around $100 million. According to the American Association of Port Authorities, the Port of New Orleans is ranked as the fifth largest port in the US in cargo tonnage handled.


A 1000-ft long, 8,000-TEU “megaship” wide enough to accommodate 18 rows of containers recently made its maiden voyage to the Port of Oakland, testing the newly deepened shipping channel in the Oakland Estuary. Port officials said the ability to accommodate such a large vessel came through harbor improvements made as part of the port’s $800 million Vision 2000 plan. Besides dredging the channel to a depth of 50 feet, the project also included the installation of 19 high-tech cranes.


Just several miles from MM&P HQ and the MITAGS campus, Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich, Jr. led a contingent of government, business, and community officials earlier this week in a celebration announcement recognizing the Port of Baltimore’s 300th anniversary. “For 300 years, Maryland’s Port of Baltimore has been a primary supplier in building the economy of our state and bringing in goods and cargo that have positively contributed to the American way of life,” said Governor Ehrlich.

“This is an historical, once-in-a-lifetime event,” said former US Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, Chairman of the Port of Baltimore Tricentennial Committee and a longtime supporter of the US merchant marine. “The Port of Baltimore built the city, and it continues to be an economic engine for the entire state providing well-paying jobs, tax revenues, and a host of other advantages which come from having a first-class Port in our own backyard.”

Total foreign cargo value in 2004 was $31.2 billion, the Port’s highest level in its history. The Port improved to seventh among major US ports for total value of cargo. The Port of Baltimore is currently ranked first nationally for roll-on/roll-off cargo and ranked second in automobile importing and exporting.

In 2004, the Port provided almost 19,000 direct jobs, $2.4 billion in personal wages and salary, and $2 billion in business revenues. During the year, the Baltimore maritime community will participate in a year-long celebration of the Port’s 300th anniversary.


CLASS OPENINGS: Between January and the end of March 2006, seats are available in the following courses:

ARPA – Automatic Radar Plotting Aids: 2/13, 3/20
AZIPOD-KAM – Azipod and Kamewa Steering and Propulsion Systems: 1/24, 3/14

BRM – Bridge Resource Management: 2/13
BRMP – Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 2/8
BST – Basic Safety Training: 1/30, 3/6

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]
CMM-CHS I – Advanced Cargo Handling (week 1): 2/20, 3/20
CMM-CHS II – Advanced Cargo Handling (week 2): 2/27, 3/27
CMM-ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display and Info Systems: 3/20
*WX-BASREF-2 – Two-day Basic weather refresher, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED PREP for Advanced Meteorology: 2/4
CMM-MPP – Marine Propulsion Plants: 1/23
CMM-SHS-ADV-I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 1/23, 2/13
CMM-SHS-ADV-II – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 1/30
CMM-SHMGT I – Ship Management (week 1): 2/6, 2/27
CMM-SHMGT II – Ship Management (week 2): 2/13, 3/6
CMM-VPEN – Voyage Planning and Electronic Navigation: 1/30, 3/27
CMM-WKP – Watchkeeping: 2/20, 3/13

CONT-PLNG – Contingency Planning: 1/20, 2/10, 3/24

FF-BADV – Combined Basic and Advanced Fire Fighting: 3/6

HAZ-Hazardous Materials (5-day): 1/9, 3/27

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 2/8

MEDIA-RSP – Media Response: 1/19, 2/9, 3/23
MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Trans Drug & Alcohol Testing: 2/11, 3/18
MED-PIC – Medical Person-In-Charge: 2/6, 3/13
MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 2/6, 3/13

[MSC – Military Sealift Command]
MSC-SMA-R – Small Arms Re-Qualification (2-day): 2/3 (must have proof of passing all 3 weapons within 2 years)

ROP-5 – Radar Observer Original and Renewal (5-day): 3/27
ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 2/8, 2/13, 3/8, 3/20

SEC-OFF-VCF – Security Officer, Vessel, Company & Facility: 1/16, 2/6, 3/20
SHS-BAS – Basic Shiphandling: 2/20
SHS-EMR-Emergency Shiphandling: 2/20, 3/27

TPIC – Tankerman Person-In-Charge: 2/13

Check the MITAGS website at for course descriptions associated with the course title abbreviations, and schedule revisions. For class availability or info on MITAGS courses and programs, contact admissions toll-free at 866-656-5568 or Email:


PMI is offering a USCG Crew Endurance Management Coaches Seminar in Seattle from October 26-27 in addition to its regular course offerings listed below. This training is designed to provide commercial mariners the knowledge and skills to develop, deploy, and assess Crew Endurance Management Systems (CEMS) within their companies.

As a Crew Endurance Coach, the employee is critical to the success of CEMS implementation. Coaches provide education and guidance on the principles of light and sleep management, assist with changes to the work and rest environment, make recommendations on schedule changes, and help create personal endurance plans for each crewmember. Once successfully completing the training the Coach will have the necessary training to educate personnel on a vessel, and the processes and practices specific to the USCG Crew Endurance Management Program. The training session spans two full days and includes a written exam. Cost: $425 per person To Register: Call Pacific Maritime Institute at 206-441-2880 or toll free 888-893-7829.

January 2006

1/16-20 ECDIS
1/16-20 ARPA
1/16-20 Emergency Shiphandling 5-day
1/23-27 MEDPRO
1/23-2/3 MEDPIC
1/30-2/1 Ship Security Officer
1/30-2/3 RADAR Observer Unlimited
1/30-2/10 GMDSS

February 2006

2/6-10 BST
2/6-9 Lifeboat/Survival Craft
2/6-10 ARPA
2/6 Radar Renewal
2/13-17 ENAV
2/20-3/3 CNAV
2/20-3/3 Advanced Shiphandling
2/20-3/4 100 Ton OUPV
2/27-3/3 Tankerman Person-In-Charge
2/27-3/3 ARPA
2/27 Radar Renewal

March 2006

3/6-10 BST
3/6-9 Lifeboat/Survival Craft
3/6-10 Basic Meteorology
3/6-18 100 Ton OUPV
3/13-24 GMDSS
3/13-17 CONSTB
3/20-24 CHS BAS
3/27-31 MEDPRO
3/27-31 ARPA
3/27 Radar Renewal
3/27-4/7 MEDPIC

For registration call Jennifer Fowler 888-893-7829

PMI Merchandise for Sale: High quality with embroidered PMI logo. All prices include tax. Navy Caps: $18.00; Button Down Long Sleeve Dress Shirts Blue or Khaki: $38.00; Coming Soon: Navy, Burgundy, Khaki T-shirts, high quality thick Hanes shirt with pocket $22.00; 15 oz. Beautiful Cobalt Blue Ceramic Mug $10.Call DeeDee Lazik 206-838-8328 or e-mail



 D O W  N A S D A Q  S & P 500
11,043.44 +163.29 for the week 2,331.36 +67.90 for the week 1,294.18 +20.72 for the week


Fund Name & Trading Symbol
 Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VFINX)
 Vanguard Extended Market Index Fund (VEXMX)
 Vanguard International Growth Fund (VWIGX)
 Vanguard Morgan Growth Fund (VMRGX)
 Vanguard Windsor II Fund (VWNFX)
 Vanguard GNMA Fund (VFIIX)
 Vanguard High Yield Corporate Fund (VWEHX)
 Vanguard Total Bond Index (VBMFX)
 Chase Growth Fund (CHASX)
 Fidelity Asset Manager (FASMX)
 Fidelity Growth and Income (FGRIX)
 Fidelity Magellan Fund (FMAGX)
 Fidelity Small Company Instl (FMACX)
 Fidelity Value Fund (FDVLX)
 Spartan US Equity Index Fund (FUSEX) 45.82 +.76
 Domini Social Equity Fund (DSEFX)


~ Reminders ~




All MM&P members are reminded that to sail aboard the T-AGS ships that MM&P-contracted Horizon Lines will be operating, you must have the required training certification and your certificates must be current in accordance with Military Sealift Command requirements. Members are also required to have had a MSC pre-employment physical and to possess Ship Security Clearance (see below).

The MSC Contract calls for all training certificates required for manning of these vessels to be no older than 5 years and that all STCW-95 courses be renewed every 5 years, or annually, as applicable.

Five-year renewable courses include, but are not limited to:

  • Advanced Fire Fighting
  • Basic Safety Training, and
  • Damage Control

Small Arms certificates must be less than 1 year old and MUST NOT expire during your tour of duty.

Members interested in applying for one of the positions onboard the T-AGS vessels are advised to make sure your certificates are up to date. If not, contact Mary Matlock or Diane Ford at MITAGS Admissions, email:, and schedule to take the course(s) needed.

Those MM&P members interested in obtaining more information and facts about the T-AGS Oceanographic Vessels are asked to email the Director of Special Projects requesting the “facts sheet”. It will be provided by return email in an Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

Members interested in employment on the T-AGS ships are asked to provide a 1-2 page resume. Please list the desired position you are seeking along with the certificates of training you possess and their dates. Upon receipt it will be forwarded to Horizon Lines and a confirmation sent back to the member. Vessel turnover commenced Oct.17, 2004. Positions for all ratings remain open.

The point of contact for sending a resume for employment on the Horizon Lines T-AGS Oceanographic Vessels is Richard Plant, MM&P’s Director of Special Projects. Send resumes in an email or as a Word file attachment to him at:, by fax to 410-850-0973 or by mail to:

Richard Plant, Director of Special Projects

700 Maritime Blvd.
Linthicum Heights, MD 21090


Members who want to sail for Horizon Lines on the T-AGS Oceanographic Survey vessels the company is set to begin operating for MSC must have Ship Security Clearance before going aboard.

Special software must be downloaded from the US Government’s Defense Security Service to complete the Security Clearance application. You must have an Internet connection and a Windows-based computer to retrieve the application and run the program.

Go to to download the software titled “EPSQ SUBJECT2_2”.

After the software is installed and the program is launched, select “Create” from the menu bar at the top of the screen. You will be required to enter your Social Security Number and a case-sensitive password. A window titled “Type of Form” will appear.

All Deck Officers should select the first button titled “Request for Security Clearance (SF86)” and then click “OK” to go to the next screen, “Type of Investigation”.

From the “Type of Investigation” screen:

  • Masters and Radio Officers should select the first button, “Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI)”.
  • All other Deck Officers (C/M, 2/M, 3/M) should click on the second button, “National Agency Check (NAC or NACLC)”.

After selecting the appropriate investigation type, click on “OK” to begin filling in the forms.



Horizon Lines requests all mariners seeking employment aboard the T-AGS Oceanographic vessels to take their MSC Physical at specially-designated facilities only after being advised to do so by the Company. This is to assure that all requirements of the MSC Physical are properly met.




Is it time to replace that car you’re driving? Vehicle loan rates are looking great at MM&P FCU.

Drive away in a new or used vehicle for a standard loan rate of:

4.75 percent for terms up to 24 months.
Standard loan rates for longer-term loans are:

5.00 percent for 25-48 months;
5.75 percent for 49-60 months ($20,000 minimum); and
6.25 percent for terms extending from 61-72 months ($25,000 minimum).
You can lower your loan rate even more — by 0.75 percent — by becoming a Preferred Borrower.

Are you paying a higher rate on your current vehicle loan at another institution? Consider refinancing your outside loan at the MM&P FCU and taking advantage of our lower loan rates.

MM&P FCU will finance up to 100 percent of your new vehicle loan, and up to 90 percent of NADA Book Value on a used vehicle. Maximum vehicle loan amount is $30,000.

MM&P FCU members can reduce the interest rate they pay on any new loan even further by becoming a preferred borrower. What is a preferred borrower? That’s a member who deposits at least 10 percent of the original loan amount into their MM&P FCU savings account and keeps those funds on deposit until the loan is paid in full. By doing this you save twice – first, your deposit works for you by earning our regular dividend savings rate, and second, you save money by reducing the interest rate on your loan by 0.75 percent.

Contact the MM&P FCU for full details on all loan programs by email to or call 1-800-382-7777 toll-free.




On Sept.30, Merck & Co. voluntarily withdrew Vioxx, a popular anti-inflammatory medication, from the market. As a result, individuals who are currently taking the drug have been asked to contact their health care professionals to discuss discontinuing use of Vioxx and possible alternative treatments.

MM&P Plans Administrator Valerie Verrecchio reports that, “We have gotten a number of calls from members who want to know what to do with their remaining supply of Vioxx and whether the Plan or NMHC will refund their co-pay for the unused portion.

“Unfortunately, neither NMHC nor the Plan was aware of the Merck decision prior to the public announcement on Sept.30. As of that date, all deliveries of Vioxx to our members was suspended in accordance with Merck’s announcement. Orders that had already been processed and were in transit could not be stopped.

“In regard to refunds, Merck has set up a website at where members can obtain information on how to recover refunds from Merck for the unused portion of medication. Members can also call following toll free number for information: 1-888-368-4699.

“We are sorry for any inc onvenience this may have caused to members currently taking this medication, however, the matter is out of the control of the Plans.”


MM&P Plans Administrator Valerie Verrecchio reports, “Good news! NMHC mail has finally gotten their website upgraded and functioning properly. I went in and tested it myself and found it to be quite user friendly.”

To use NMHC’s upgraded service, go to the NMHC Mail website at and click on “MEMBER LOGIN” at the bottom of the screen.

First-time and Registered users may bypass the welcome screen and go directly to the log-in page at

  • First-time users should then click on the link marked “NEW USER: REGISTER HERE”.
    This will take you to a page titled “MEMBER REGISTRATION” where you will need to enter demographic information and submit it by clicking on the
  • “CREATE ACCOUNT” button.

After creating your account, NMHC will email you a password to gain entry into your records. With your first sign-in, the NMHC system will prompt you to change the NMHC password to one of your own choosing.

Once you are registered at NMHC, you can check the status of open orders by logging-in to the system through the “MEMBER LOGIN” page and going into the “MAIL ORDER” menu. You can look up all prescriptions and get the price our members will pay for any medication. You can also view an order history of all of your medication transactions (both retail and mail) for the last 24 months, locate 24-hour pharmacies in your zip code region as well as access other helpful member education information.

“We hope this welcome improvement will assist our members. Although you cannot order refills on line if you don’t provide a credit or debit card number, you can phone in your refill. Once you register on the website, you will still have access to all of the other information including checking the status of your order once it is phoned in,” said Ms. Verrecchio.


The U.S. Coast Guard has announced an initiative to identify and collect the oral histories of its World War II veterans. Coast Guard WWII veterans, including SPARS and merchant mariners, are encouraged to record their histories online with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project at

Those veterans needing assistance in recording their stories can receive help from their local Coast Guard Auxiliary public affairs contact by leaving a message at 1-877-875-6296, a toll-free call.



LMS Ship Management, the company that manages vessels for Central Gulf, Sulphur Carriers and Waterman Steamship, wants to remind MM&P members that they offer their crewmembers a $75 reimbursement on the cost of purchasing certain slip-resistant shoes and boots for use aboard ship.

This offer has been in place for some time and LMS reports that “we have been pleased with the participation to date, but feel a reminder may be in order.” Their goal is for every crewmember to wear slip resistant footwear during working hours aboard their vessels.

The $75 reimbursement is available to each crewmember who provides LMS with an original receipt for the purchase of slip resistant footwear. In order for the crewmember to obtain the reimbursement, they must wear the shoes while on duty. Upon presentation of the receipt, the crewmember will be reimbursed on their pay voucher. The receipt will be retained by the Master and will remain aboard the vessel.

Vessels in the LMS footwear reimbursement program are:

  • Green Cove
  • Green Dale
  • Green Lake
  • Green Point
  • Atlantic Forest
  • Sulphur Enterprise
  • Energy Enterprise
  • SGT Matej C. Kocak
  • MAJ Stephen W. Pless, and
  • PFC Eugene A. Obregon

LMS notes that in order to receive reimbursement, crewmembers must purchase one of the following recommended brands:

  • WORX by Red Wing Slip Resistant Footwear
  • Caterpillar (must have steel toe & slip resistant sole)
  • Wolverine (must have steel toe and slip resistant sole)
  • Dunham Sierra Work Boot EH
  • Steel Toe Voyager
  • Georgia Boot 6- or 8-inch Safety Toe Boot
  • Dr. Marten’s (must have steel toe & slip resistant sole)


Of the boots listed above, Red Wing, Caterpillar and Wolverine boots are produced by US union labor.

Redwing’s Union-made products are: Red Wing shoes and boots, Red Wing motorcycle boots and Craftsman (Sears).

Wolverine World Wide manufactures boots under the Caterpillar brand using US union labor. (Other union made safety-shoe brands by Wolverine are the company’s Hy-Test, Durashock and Bates Military labels. The company’s Wolverine brand combat boots are also produced using US union labor.)

Most Dr. Marten’s shoes and boots are produced in the UK.

To find US, union-made products, visit the AFL-CIO Union Label Service and Trades website at and click on “Union Made Product Search”. To shop for union-made products online, go to



The Union Label recently went digital with a new website offering shoppers an array of union-made gifts, from clothing and chocolates to computers, games and greeting cards.

The website,, launches on the eve of the fall and winter holidays, when shoppers will spend an estimated $1 trillion on gifts, food, drinks and other seasonal items, explained Matt Bates, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO Union Label & Service Trades Department. The all-union shopping site, however, will be a year-round operation because that is what consumers demand, he added.

“Shoppers spent $56 billion in Internet sales last year, and on-line spending is doubling every two to three years. Everyday we receive Email and calls from people who want to support good jobs by buying union-made goods and services. The website will reach millions of people, 24 hours a day, with a quick convenient way to shop union,” Bates said.

“The public is ready for this. People have seen millions of good jobs disappear and they are looking for ways to take a stand and make a difference,” he added.

The AFL-CIO will target the peak of the holiday shopping season by promoting “Buy Union Week” Nov. 26 through Dec. 5. The newly-launched, all-union shopping site will be a cornerstone of that campaign. MM&P has a link to the Shop Union Site on this website under “Links and Other Sources”.

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 and is posted on our web page.