Wheelhouse Weekly – January 29, 2004

January 29th 2004



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

Volume 8 . . . . . Number 5 . . . . January 29, 2004




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



The FBI says 11 US seafarers “having a nexus to terrorism matters” have been placed on the “No Fly” and “Watchlist” maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC). A further 700 have been found to have “issues related to law enforcement and maritime concerns”. FBI counter-terrorism division head Gary Bald revealed the info on Jan.27 in testimony before the Senate judiciary subcommittee on terrorism, technology and homeland security.

In his testimony, Bald said that checks of USCG-issued merchant mariner licenses began in Jan. 2003 under ‘Operation Drydock’, a National Joint Terrorism Taskforce investigation with the FBI and USCG. Out of 200,000 US seafarers, only 15,000 records remain to be checked. The MM&P is keeping a watchful eye on this process to assure that seafarers’ privacy rights are being respected.

Bald also revealed that in a new pilot program, a Miami-based taskforce is providing additional scrutiny to manning agencies around the world, which supplies crew for international cruise lines. The ‘Manning Agency Screening Initiative’ provides limited database checks on the agencies, which were only licensed to do business in their respective countries and are currently not screened by any US law enforcement agency.

The FBI has also established a protocol for domestic cruise lines to electronically send all passenger and crew manifests to the TSC six hours prior to departure. The TSC enables the cruise line manifests to be run against a single terrorism database, instead of the numerous lists housed within a variety of government agencies.

The FBI is also working towards establishing a permanent Maritime Liaison Agent (MLA) in each of its offices with significant port activity. The MLA position would streamline the flow of information coming from, and going to, the various ports around the country, with one consistent point of contact.

Learn More: TSC Fact Sheet



With primary polls indicating that working Americans consider health care a top priority, union leaders and the AFL-CIO have announced that the labor movement will extend nationwide its efforts to hold the line for affordable healthcare in its fight with grocery chains in Southern CA.

The announcement was made at a meeting of union leaders from more than 50 cities and UFCW officials. The record mobilization includes community support and intense education of Safeway shoppers.

The announcement follows the latest breakdown of yet another effort to persuade Safeway, the lead grocery chain in the dispute, as well as Ralphs and Albertsons, to abandon their demand for the effective elimination of health care benefits.

“We expect an overwhelming response among consumers and the community, because shoppers understand that Safeway is mounting an attack on health care standards that will affect all working families, ” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka. “America’s workers and grocery shoppers draw the line at corporate greed and profiteering at the expense of basic healthcare coverage for workers.”

Huge, profitable companies, Safeway/Vons, Kroger/Ralphs, and Albertsons, offered a dramatic, permanent cut in healthcare benefits and two-tiered pay scale in the latest contract. Even though they reaped great profits in recent years and can afford the benefits their workers need, Kroger, Safeway, and Albertsons stores’ say they need to cut benefits to remain competitive.

“Clearly, these big grocery chains have miscalculated the strength and resolve of the grocery workers and misjudged American shoppers who honor the workers’ fight. The 13 million members of the AFL-CIO stand behind the 70,000 striking and locked-out UFCW grocery workers in Southern California and will do whatever it takes to make sure that these workers hold the line one day longer than their employers,” concluded Trumka.



Newly introduced legislation features a five-year, $4 billion grant program designed to put port security funding on par with aviation security. The bill [H.R. 3712] introduced by Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA) seeks to provide a “steady, predictable stream” of funding for port security projects.

Since 9/11, MM&P has been a strong advocate of a number of legislative initiatives which seek to increase the meager level of funding devoted to maritime security as opposed to the billions of dollars that have already been spent for aviation security.

Regarding her bill, Millender-McDonald said that, “seaport security continues to be an ongoing national concern that Congress cannot afford to ignore any longer.” The program would come under the auspices of the Homeland Security Department.

The congresswoman cited USCG estimates of $1.125 billion to implement port security regulations in the first year and $5.45 billion in costs over 10 years while noting how “woefully underfunded” port security is now.

She noted that Congress provided $442 million of funding through competitive grants and pointed out through DHS-provided figures that just $1 out of $10 requested for port security grants is funded. The bill, entitled the US Seaport Multiyear Enhancement Act, has been referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.



The USCG advises that if you began your service or training in the towing industry before May 21, 2001, you may receive a license for Master of Towing Vessels if, before May 21 2004, you complete the exam required by 46 CFR 10.903(a)(18)(i) and meet either of the following two requirements:

(1)Three years of service, including:

  • Two years on deck aboard a vessel 26-feet or more in length;
  • One year on deck aboard a towing vessel, with at least six months of training or duty in the wheelhouse of the towing vessel; and
  • Three months in each particular geographic area for which you are seeking authority.

~ OR ~

(2) Three years of service aboard towing vessels, including:

  • One year on deck, with at least six months of training or duty in the wheelhouse of the towing vessel; and
  • Three months in each particular geographic area for which you are seeking authority.

The deadline to complete testing and service is May 21, 2004. If you miss this deadline, then the requirement to work up through Apprentice Mate, Mate, and then Master will apply. Although the deadline is this May, applications submitted after January may not allow sufficient time for evaluation and testing.

For additional info, please contact Richard Wells at 504-240-7300, ext 232, or via Email at



Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) has called on President Bush to abandon a Corps of Engineers study that she says could lead to a costly and environmentally harmful expansion of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Sen. Clinton said that any expansion of the seaway would harm local businesses and the region’s burgeoning tourism industry. In addition, the project would cost American taxpayers $10 to $15 billion. It would also exacerbate the problem of invasive species by making the Great Lakes accessible to more and larger foreign vessels.

The Great Lakes fishery has been ravaged by exotic species including sea lampreys, zebra mussels and other invaders. The most important pathway for invasive species to enter the Great Lakes is via the ballast tanks of foreign vessels using the St. Lawrence Seaway to access Great Lakes ports.

Instead of seaway expansion, Sen. Clinton said that, “we must study how we can balance the environmental and navigational needs of the region in a way that considers the economic health of the Great Lakes area as a whole.”



Recently a NORSAFE Miriam 8.5 meter lifeboat equipped with NORSAFE Camsafe release mechanism fell from a semi-submersible mobile offshore drilling unit during initial preparation for sea trials. While the lifeboat was being recovered and raised to its stowage position, the aft hook unexpectedly released at a height of about 70 feet, followed by the disengagement of the forward hook as it took the full load of the boat. The boat tumbled and fell to the water landing upside down, causing one fatality and injuring two other crewmen.

The NORSAFE Camsafe release mechanism became available in 2000. It is not USCG approved, however, it may be fitted on some NORSAFE lifeboats accepted by the USCG based on Norwegian approval. After the accident the release mechanism control lever was found in the locked position inside the boat, but it is apparent that the hook itself was not fully engaged inside the release mechanism.

Subsequent investigation found that the release mechanism control lever could be placed in the locked position even though the locking cam had not properly engaged the hook. In this condition, the mechanism can appear upon casual examination to be locked and, due to the design and roughness of the hook and cam surfaces, it could bear a significant load. However, the hook can in fact release at any time without warning.

The casualty investigation is not complete. Additional recommendations are likely to follow. In the interim the USCG strongly recommends:

  • That only those launching and recovery operations that are ABSOLUTELY necessary should be carried out with lifeboats having the Camsafe release mechanisms.
  • Prior to launching the lifeboat, proper cam engagement must be verified as well as each time the boat is lifted for recovery operations.

Questions regarding this info and reports of any Camsafe release mechanisms found not completely engaged may be addressed to Lt. Todd Howard of the USCG’s Life Saving and Fire Safety Division at 202-267-6854 or Questions or comments related to this info may also be addressed to Ken Olsen at 202-267-1417 or



An inquiry into the fatal capsizing of the converted bulk carrier ROCKNES is underway in Bergen, Norway. Eighteen crewmembers perished while 11 other crewmembers and the pilot were rescued when the ship capsized on Jan.19. The vessel will be towed to a safer location six n-miles north of Bergen as soon as salvors have made it stable. Strong currents, busy traffic and exposure to possible gales have made the move necessary.

Eyewitnesses report that the ship appeared to lose control while maneuvering in a narrow channel and scraped rocks before turning over. The ship’s pilot and a member of the crew were able to scramble onto the vessel’s side, then its hull as it capsized.



Class Openings

Between now and the end of March 2004, seats are available in the following courses:

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

  • ARPA — Automatic Radar Plotting Aids: 2/9, 3/15


  • BRM — Bridge Resource Management: 2/16, 3/15
  • BST — Basic Safety Training: 3/1


CMM = Chief Mate and Master Courses

  • CMM-ADVSTB — Advanced Stability: 2/16
  • CMM-CHS-1 — Cargo Handling & Stowage (week 1): 2/23
  • CMM-CHS-2 — Cargo Handling & Stowage (week 2): 3/1
  • CMM-ECDIS — Electron Chart Display and Info Systems: 3/15
  • CMM-MPP — Marine Propulsion Plants: 2/9
  • CMM-SHS-ADV-1 — Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 3/22
  • CMM-SHMGT-1 — Ship Management (week 1): 3/15
  • CMM-SHMGT-2 — Ship Management (week 2): 3/22
  • CMM-WKP — Watchkeeping: 3/8


  • COMP-ABSS — Computer ABS Safenet Program: 3/8
  • COMP-DC — Computer Database Program: 3/22
  • CONT-PLNG — Contingency Planning Workshop: 2/5: 2/26, 3/11
  • CSE-AWR — Confined Space Entry Awareness (1-day): 3/22


  • HAZ — Hazardous Materials: 2/2


  • MED-DOT-DA — Dept. of Trans Drug & Alcohol Test: 2/14, 3/27
  • MEDIA-RSP — Media Response: 2/6, 2/27, 3/12
  • MED-PIC — Medical Person In Charge: 2/9
  • MED-PRO — Medical Care Provider: 2/9
  • MED-SMC — Shipboard Medical Care: 3/1


MSC = Military Sealift Command Courses

  • MSC-CBRD-1 — Chemical Biological Radiological Defense Training Orientation: 2/27
  • MSC-COMMS — Strategic Sealift Communications: 2/23
  • MSC-DC — Damage Control: 2/28, 3/23, 3/25
  • MSC-SMA-Requalify: 3/23, 3/25
    (must have passed all 3 weapons within the previous 2 years)


  • ROP-5 — Radar Observer Program (Original and Renewal): 2/23
  • ROR-1 — Radar Observer Renewal: 2/14, 3/20


  • SEC-OFF PCS — Security-Port, Company, Ship: 2/2, 2/23, 3/8
  • SHS-BAS — Basic Shiphandling: 3/15
  • SHS-EMR5 — Emergency Shiphandling: 3/8


  • T-PIC — Tankship or Barge Haz Liquids, Person-In-Charge: 3/8

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Check the MITAGS website for up-to-date course descriptions associated with the course title abbreviations, and for schedule revisions.


Attendance Verification & Cancellation is Vital

If you are scheduled for a course, call, write, or Email admissions to advise whether or not you will attend. Many classes are in demand and maintain a Standby List. “No Shows” are missed training opportunities for other members.


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 by calling toll-free, 1-866-656-5568.



Course Schedule

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

  • 2/2-6/04: ARPA
  • 2/2-6: Advanced Stability
  • 2/2: Radar recertification
  • 2/2-13: GMDSS
  • 2/9-13: Electronic Navigation
  • 2/9-17: Able Bodied Seaman
  • 2/9-13: Basic Safety Training
  • 2/9-13: Tankerman Person-In-Charge
  • 2/16-20: Basic and Advanced Firefighting
  • 2/16-27: Celestial Navigation
  • 2/16-20: Advanced Watchkeeping
  • 2/16-20: ARPA
  • 2/23-25: Ship Security
  • 2/23-3/5: Ship Management


  • 3/1-2: Search & Rescue
  • 3/3-5: Emergency Procedures
  • 3/1-5: Radar Observer Unlimit
  • 3/8-12: Ship Construction and Basic Stability
  • 3/8-12: Advanced Meteorology
  • 3/15-19: Basic Safety Train
  • 3/15-19: Basic Cargo Handling and Stowage
  • 3/15-19: ECDIS
  • 3/15-26: GMDSS
  • 3/22/26: Basic and Advanced Firefighting
  • 3/22-26: ARPA
  • 3/22: Radar Recertification
  • 3/22-24: Ship Security
  • 3/29-4/2/04: Medical Provider
  • 3/29-4/9/04: Medical Person-In-Charge

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Contact DeeDee Lazik at 206-441-2880 or 888-893-7829 (toll free) for registration or visit the PMI website at



 D O W

 N A S D A Q


– 155.25 for the week


 – 65.08 for the week
 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 (FAGX)


 Spartan US Equity Index Fund (FUSEX)


~ Reminders ~



The buildings remain where they have always stood, but they have now been assigned new addresses. Local authorities have determined that it was necessary to put in place new street numbering for the MM&P’s MITAGS facility and for the MM&P Health & Benefit Plan office. The longstanding address of 5700 Hammonds Ferry Rd., used for both MITAGS and the Plan, has been eliminated.

Effective immediately:

  • The mailing address for MITAGS has been changed to:
    • 692 Maritime Blvd
      Linthicum Heights, MD 21090


  • The new mailing address for the Plan Office is now:
    • 700 Maritime Blvd.
      Suite A
      Linthicum Heights, MD 21090-1996
    • This is the same street address as the Union headquarters since both offices are housed in the same building, but the Plan Office is denoted with a suite number.


  • The mailing address for the MM&P Federal Credit Union, located in the Plans Building Lobby, is now:
    • 700 Maritime Blvd.
      Linthicum Heights, MD 21090-1996

The change brings the MITAGS, Plans and MM&P FCU addresses into conformance with Postal and 911 emergency mapping since all the buildings are located on the same road of the campus.

Plan Administrator Valerie Verrecchio advises Plan participants that “it is important to remember when you send mail to the Plans that you clearly address it to ‘MM&P Plans’ and to include our new suite number. This is what the Post Office will use to differentiate mail between the Union and the Plan office. Otherwise, the Post Office may send it through the mail system at the Union and your claims processing could be delayed for a couple of days.”

There is no change to the Union HQ mailing address.



All Licensed Deck Officers who possess STCW-95 certificates containing Basic Safety Training (BST) completion dates close to or more than five years old need to carry copies of their USCG discharges with them so they can prove that they have the required sea service necessary to extend their BST qualification. For questions or further info, contact Mike Rodriguez at 410-850-8700 ext.23 or Email:



In an increasing tight job market, many former private sector employees are considering a civil service mariner position with Military Sealift Command, a global Navy command that operates more than 100 civilian-crewed, non-combatant ships in support of the Department of Defense.

Civilian mariners who are licensed deck officers are MM&P bargaining unit members. MSC offers its civil service mariners many benefits including competitive pay, health insurance, lodging, meals and training.

It is a branch of the Navy, but its mariners are not military personnel. MSC is the largest single employer of US merchant mariners. MSC’s Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force ships provide underway replenishment of supplies, towing and salvage operations for the Navy’s combatant fleet.

Two NFAF ships also serve as afloat medical facilities normally kept in reduced operating status. MSC ships also conduct oceanographic and hydrographic surveys, underwater surveillance, missile flight data collection, submarine support and other specialized services through its Special Mission Program ships.

The command’s sealift ships provide ocean transportation of cargo for the Department of Defense. Through the Prepositioning Program, MSC maintains ships laden with combat equipment and supplies in strategic ocean areas around the world for US forces. These ships are ready to sail quickly to potential contingency sites.

The NFAF ships and two special mission ships are crewed by federal civil service mariners hired by MSC. Sealift ships, prepositioning ships and the remaining special mission ships are crewed by commercial mariners working for operating companies under contract to MSC.

Based on the fiscal year 2004 Congressional budget, MSC is expecting a 33 percent increase in the civil service mariner workforce from 4,044 in 2003 to 5,385 in 2008. About 1,340 civil service mariners will be needed to crew the additional eight ships that will join the MSC fleet in the next five years.

For more on employment info with the MSC, contact Randi Ciszewski, MM&P’s Government Fleets Representative, at



MITAGS Executive Director Glen Paine announced that MITAGS and PMI have implemented an innovative program, with reduced tuition and hotel costs, to assist professional mariners seeking license advancement to Chief Mate/Master (CMM).

The Institutes now offer one of the fastest, most versatile, and cost-effective routes for mariners to obtain their CMM licenses. The MITAGS/PMI program, which covers all USCG requirements, is only 12 weeks in duration.

Forty-one of the 53 required assessments may be completed during these courses. To flexibly meet their schedule, students can take the required courses at the PMI campus in Seattle, Washington and/or at the MITAGS campus in Baltimore, Maryland.

The MITAGS/PMI program can be completed in 60 days for under $14,000. Other programs take up to 71 days and charge $19,000 to complete the CMM requirements. Students taking ALL of the CMM courses at MITAGS and/or PMI will receive a 15 percent tuition discount from the normal pricing, which brings the total CMM tuition down to $13,303.

In addition to this cost reduction, those students taking ALL of the CMM courses at MITAGS/PMI will receive a substantial reduction in the room and board rates. If needed, MITAGS and PMI will also provide a convenient and flexible payment plan.

For more info regarding the CMM License Advancement, or any other course programs offered by MITAGS or PMI, please contact Capt. Craig Thomas (MITAGS) toll free at 866-656-5569 or via Email at You may also contact Gregg Trunnell at PMI in Seattle at 206-239-9965 or via Email at



Through a special arrangement with ShipCom, MM&P members at sea will now receive a significant discount on personal ship-to-shore radiotelephone calls. The rate is $2.50 per minute to any phone number in the US. This is a significant discount from the usual rate of $3.99 per minute. Calls may be placed collect, or billed to any major credit card.

To take advantage of this offer or for more info contact Station WLO on HF SSB channels 405, 607, 824, 1212, 16401, 1807, or 2237 or on HF radio telex channels (selcall 1090) 406, 606, 806, 810, 815, 1205, 1211, 1605, 1615, 1810 or 2215.

MM&P members must identify themselves as an MM&P member and provide the operator with the last 4 digits of their MM&P book number in order to get the discounted rate.

Any vessel equipped with HF radio telex may send and receive Internet email via the telex terminal. For more info contact WLO radio via telex or HF SSB voice.



The National WWII Memorial has a site on its webpage for individuals who served in any capacity during WWII to register to be included in the Memorial’s Registry. The main site is

If the individual clicks on WWII Registry, he/she can find out if he/she is already included as a result of one of the WWII databases and, if not, can follow the directions to register. Any American who contributed to the war effort is eligible for the Registry.



  • 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 and Moran Towing of Florida 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.


Who Can Be a Member?

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.


Want to Know More?

For additional details or to get answers to your questions on all MM&P Federal Credit Union programs, contact Kathy Klisavage, Credit Union Manager, toll-free at 1-800-382-7777 or by Email at


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.