Wheelhouse Weekly – January 17, 2003

January 17th 2003


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

Volume 7 . . . . . Number 3. . . . . January 17, 2003







MM&P has been advised by the US Maritime Administration that a breakout of Ready Reserve Fleet vessels is likely in the near future. It is possible that ship activations could begin occurring within the next few days. Members are asked to remain alert for a potential personnel call-up.

All MM&P port offices and representatives are reminded that under terms of an existing agreement among MM&P, MEBA and AMO for the crewing of government RRF vessels in a time of national emergency, if any of the organizations experiences a shortfall in filling contracted billets, the ship operator is to advise MarAd.

MarAd will then contact the other unions to ensure that the billet is filled. Under terms of the agreement, none of the organizations is to contact a hiring hall of another organization for crewing of RRF vessels. All such requests must flow from the ship operator through MarAd.

Mike Rodriguez is MM&P’s point-of-contact throughout the holiday weekend. He will field questions from other unions, government agencies or members, and will respond to any crewing requests. Mike may be contacted at MM&P HQ, 410-850-8700 x23, or by cell phone at 443-310-5868.


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 winner of the 2002 American Merchant Marine Seamanship Trophy is the SS MAYAGUEZ under the command of MM&P-member Capt. John Morin. The presentation of the trophy will be made at an award luncheon at the US Merchant Marine Academy this Saturday, January 18.

The officers and crew of the containership were cited for exceptional seamanship in the rescue of five people from their sinking sailboat 70 miles off the coast of Cape Canaveral, FL on April 5, 2001. Other MM&P members participating in the rescue were Chief Mate Dan Corn, Second Mate Kent Comeau, Third Mate Charles Moy and Third Mate Richard Wickenden.

On that day, the Coast Guard received a distress signal from the sailboat SPINNING JENNY OF LUNE. The USCG dispatched an aircraft to locate the sailboat and requested the MAYAGUEZ to alter course to render assistance.

In making its own award presentation last year, the USCG stated that the officers and crew of the MAYAGUEZ “demonstrated extraordinary efforts and heroically pulled all five sailors on board and verified all persons were accounted for. Because of the crew’s determined efforts, outstanding initiative and adept seamanship skills, the rescue resulted in five lives saved.”

MM&P President Capt. Tim Brown, Atlantic Ports VP Rich May and MM&P members including David Goff, Gerald Gordon, John Johnson and Dennis Schroeder are scheduled attend the USMMA presentation in Kings Point, NY.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



New information received earlier this week from the Master of the MM&P-crewed Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS COMFORT reports that wind and sea conditions during the rescue of a man adrift in the Atlantic Ocean off Bermuda were much worse that originally stated. In fact, the wind was 45-knots and the storm-tossed seas were raging 20-25 feet during the rescue operation.

As reported in last week’s Wheelhouse Weekly, just two days after deploying from its layberth in Baltimore, COMFORT rescued a man after his 40-foot fishing boat capsized and broke apart in treacherous seas. Two other men in the boat were lost at sea. The COMFORT is under the command of MM&P member Capt. Richard Cicchetti. MM&P member Dean Bradford is serving as Chief Mate. Second Mate is currently David Lieberman and MM&P member Third Mate Kirby rounds out the LDO complement.

The COMFORT was en route to an undisclosed location in support of the President’s war on terrorism when she responded to the call for assistance from the USCG Response Coordination Center in Bermuda. She is crewed by 61 civilian mariners and 300 medical and support personnel from the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD currently staff her onboard Medical Treatment Facility. For the latest info on the ship, visit the MSC website at

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The MM&P’s Pacific Maritime Institute has prepared the following article detailing some of the provisions to the new Safety Of Life At Sea (SOLAS) Amendments follow:

AIS (Automatic Identification Systems)

SOLAS Chapter V has been modified with a new timetable for the fitting of AIS to all ships of over 300 gross tons not later than the first safety equipment survey after July 1, 2004 or by December 31, 2004, whichever occurs earlier.

Ships fitted with AIS will be required to maintain it in operation at all times except where international agreements, rules or standards provide for the protection of navigational information.

The argument was rejected that the master should have the discretion to turn off the AIS as it could be useful as a source of information to terrorist or pirates or used as a homing device.

Ship Security Alert System

SOLAS Regulation XI-2/6 requires all ships to be provided with a ship security alert system according to a timetable that will see most ships fitted by 2004 and the remainder by 2006. The ship security alert system shall be capable of being activated from the bridge and at least one other location onboard.

When activated the system shall initiate and transmit a ship-to-shore security alert to a competent authority, which may include the company, designated by the flag state, identifying the ship, its location and indicating that the security of the ship is under threat or has been compromised. The ship security alert system shall not send the alert to other ships or raise an alarm onboard.

Master’s Discretion

SOLAS Regulation XI-2/8 provides that the master shall not be constrained from taking or executing any decision which, in the professional judgment of the master, is necessary to maintain the safety and security of the ship.

This includes denial of access to persons or their effects and the refusal to load cargo, including containers or other closed cargo transport units. “Closed Cargo Transport Units” is the new IMO-speak for containers. If, in the professional judgment of the master, a conflict between any safety and security requirements applicable to the ship arises during its operations, the master shall give effect to those requirements necessary to maintain the safety of the ship.

The ISPS Code in section 6 provides that the Company shall establish in the ship security plan that the master has the overriding authority and responsibility to make decisions with respect to the security of the ship and to request the assistance of the Company or of any Contracting Government as may be necessary.

For more info, contact PMI at:

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Earlier this week, Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta announced $105 million in US Port Security Grants and $28 million for Operation Safe Commerce’s pilot program for port security. The Port Security Grants program includes grants for security assessments and strategies for mitigating vulnerabilities and for enhancing cargo and passenger security and access control.

Additional funds will be announced in the near future for port incident training to enhance prevention and response preparedness for countering terrorist incidents. More than $92 million in Port Security Grants were distributed to 51 US ports.

Under Operation Safe Commerce, pilot programs using new security techniques will be developed with the potential for increasing the security of container shipments. The program involves the ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, New York/New Jersey, and Seattle/Tacoma.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



January 31 marks the end of the STCW-95 grandfathering deadline. It is expected that the Regional Exam Centers will be very busy as mariners rush to meet the deadline. The USCG is strongly urging all members to come in early during the day and to avoid waiting until the last few days of January.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Plans Administrator Valerie Verrecchio will be present at a special membership meeting on Wednesday, January 22 at the Norfolk Hall. The Health and Welfare Plan has undergone some significant changes so the meeting should be very informative. Spouses are invited to attend. The meeting will start at 1300 hrs.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Class Openings

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

  • 1/27-31: FF-ADV, BRM, CMM-ADVSTB
  • 2/10-14: MED-PRO, CMM-SHS ADV I


MSC Courses

Military Sealift Command (MSC) courses in Damage Control (DC) & Small Arms (SMA) are available at MITAGS as a package. From February 17-21, take the “MSC” week, including DC, and then follow-up the next week with either SMA or MSC Communications. In March, take DC on 20-21 and start SMA on Monday, March 24.


“MSC” Week Courses

  • 2/24-28: SHS-EMR5, ROP, MSC-COMMS, CMM-MPP
  • 2/24-27: SMA
  • 2/24-3/7: CMM-CHS


HWA Accepted for CMM

The MITAGS 35-hour Heavy Weather Avoidance (HWA) course will now be accepted by the USCG as satisfying the Advanced Meteorology requirement for Chief Mate/Master set forth in NMC Policy Letter 04-02. USCG will accept all certificates for HWA completed after May 1, 1999. This recognition is for the training area only. No specific assessments or control sheets are included.



Another 1-day DOT Drug & Alcohol class has been scheduled for Wednesday, February 5 in Jacksonville. The course is designed to provide instruction and proficiency in DOT collection procedures, as described in 49 CFR 40, to individuals designated as urine specimen collectors for drug testing. Course also provides instruction in breath testing for alcohol as required in 46 CFR 4. Contact the Hall to register.


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



Training Packages include:

  • OS to AB;
  • AB to Mate; and
  • Second Mate to Chief Mate

Call for details at 888-893-7829 or download the PMI course schedule with descriptions at

For the latest up-to-date info on class schedules, visit the PMI website at



MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



 D O W

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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





    The new 24-hour rule requiring advance cargo manifests from sea carriers went into effect on December 2. Under the new rule, US Customs will grant sea carriers a 60-day grace period to fully implement the program.

    “By quickly implementing the ’24-hour rule’, we can do a better job of protecting the American people and the global trading system as a whole,” said US Customs Commissioner Robert Bonner. “Knowing the contents of a container before it is loaded onto a ship bound for the US is a critical part of our efforts to guard against the terrorist threat.”

    Customs has posted a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section on its website for those who have questions about the program. It may be accessed by going to: or downloaded as an Acrobat file by going to Questions can also be E-mailed to Customs at:

    MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



    With maritime security remaining a vital issue in the US and soon to be revisited at the International Maritime Organization’s December meeting, mariners should be aware that security info is available via the Internet.

    The latest Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) available in Adobe Acrobat PDF format is circular 9-02 “Guidelines for Port Security Committees, and Port Security Plans For US Ports” and, more importantly, 10-02 “Security Guidelines For Vessels”. The latest hard copy issued, but not yet available on the Internet, is titled “Recommended Security Guidelines for Waterfront Facilities.

    The 9-02 and 10-02 NVICs can be downloaded via accessing: and selecting “2000s” on the left and then clicking on the PDF icon on the right next to the 9-02 and 10-02 subject title. Read these NVICs carefully. This information is being supplied to the world at the IMO meeting in December.

    Most of the responsibilities listed under 10-02 will most likely be assigned as collateral duties to a deck officer. With the existing workload licensed deck officers currently have, additional duties will make the LDOs job much more difficult and time-consuming.

    Richard Plant, Director of Special Projects, has requested that the USCG IMO Delegation call for all port state authorities to review their certification of inspection (COI) manning requirements. In doing so, they should consider the present and future workloads that these regulations will impose on the crew.

    Due consideration should also be given to whether additional unlicensed crew or LDOs are needed aboard foreign and domestic vessels to successfully complete the many tasks mandated under these new security proposals.


    MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



    SOS Incorporated, manufacturer of SOSPENDERS brand life jackets has alerted the USCG and the public that they have recalled approximately 7,200 automatic inflatable personal flotation devices (PFDs).

    The purpose of this recall is to investigate a safety defect involving the Hammar model MA1 Manual/Automatic inflators. Approximately 300 defective Hammar units in one lot of 500 were loaded incorrectly and will not inflate the vest. SOSpenders Corp. has made the decision to recall all Hammar products for 100-percent safety inspection.

    The USCG and SOS Inc. stress that is important for consumers to stop using the PFDs immediately and return them to SOS.

    Important info to assist in the identification of potential defective units and what to do when units are identified is available from two websites:

    Questions regarding this recall may be addressed to Daniel McCormick of the USCG at or 202-267-2713.

    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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