Wheelhouse Weekly – January 30, 2003

January 30th 2003


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

Volume 7 . . . . . Number 5. . . . . January 30, 2003






The Chief Medical Officer for Military Sealift Command, Capt. Maura Emerson, reports that the “take check” requirement for the smallpox vaccination process for Ready Reserve Force (RRF) fleet crewmembers has been modified.

The mariner who was vaccinated must complete a daily symptom log. On day 6-8 after vaccination the Master or designated medical representative must ensure that each mariner has checked and recorded the appearance of the vaccination site. At day 10, the Master will send an Email report indicating “take” or “no take” or “uncertain” results for crew members to the MSC Medical Office.

The second change in the smallpox vaccination program is based upon the clinical experience of the initial group of DOD smallpox vaccinees. In this group, numbering several thousand, there have been no hospitalizations or serious reactions. Because of the frequent changes in MSC operational schedule and the reassuring clinical experience to date, MSC medical will now provide smallpox immunizations prior to embarkation, whenever possible.

This change will maximize the opportunity to complete this essential component of force protection before entry into a high threat area. This will also minimize the impact of immunization requirements on a ship’s schedule. The MSC will no longer require a 10-day window for smallpox vaccination process.

MM&P members are reminded that smallpox and anthrax vaccinations remain a condition of employment aboard RRF vessels currently being activated. While members retain the right to refuse these inoculations, no mariners will be allowed to sail without having been vaccinated.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



On January 27-28, Special Govt. Rep. Capt. Joe Stone and Exec. Asst. to the President Mike Rodriguez represented MM&P at a classified USTRANSCOM briefing at Scott AFB, IL. The MM&P delegation listened to logistics plans for the buildup and sustainment phases of potential military action in the Persian Gulf, Naval Coordination and Protection of Shipping, and force protection.

Day 1 – MGen William Welser, Director of Operations and Logistics, greeted the conference.

The General expressed his appreciation for the efforts of industry and labor and promised to keep all in the loop as plans unfold and change.

Opening remarks were followed by detailed briefs outlining plans for the movement of cargo to the buildup area and for deploying USCG assets to provide force protection.


Day 2 – Force Protection dominated the agenda.

Mike Rodriguez expressed thanks on behalf of maritime labor to LGen Gary Hughey, Deputy Commander USTRANSCOM, for providing support for the inclusion of commercial mariners in the military’s inoculation program and making CBR-D equipment for mariners entering the buildup area a priority item.

Capt. Stone discussed the breakout with senior MARAD officials and informed the group that MITAGS was adding additional sessions of CBR-D, Small Arms and Damage Control training classes for our members to their existing schedule.

MITAGS received mention from MARAD staff for the prototype Ship Security Officer course due to start in February.


While much of the information provided at the meeting is classified, it is safe to say that military planners have identified a likely need for more vessels given current requirements. MM&P HQ will keep the membership posted.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



An abundance of heavy weather has hit the northern Atlantic this winter. Last week, one storm brought strong gale-force winds, gusting to 60 miles per hour and over 20-foot high seas to a wide swath of the North Atlantic.

  • The Halifax newspaper The Daily News reported that a casualty of the storm was one of the world’s newest container ships that arrived in Halifax Harbor with crushed containers and damage to its superstructure. Dozens of containers on the deck of the MAERSK CAROLINA were either swept overboard or crushed. As many as 100 containers were lost or damaged, some ripped apart and were hanging off the side of the ship when she made port. Two possible crew injuries were later reported.

An additional report and photos were published in The Halifax Herald Limited.


  • Another accident on the 60,945-DWT Panamanian flag tanker PRINCESS EVA occurred earlier this week during a violent storm 140 nautical-miles off the Irish coast left one man dead, one with a severed leg and one with serious head injuries. The tanker was en route from Denmark to Houston carrying 51,000 tons of crude oil. The accident happened at about 1300 hrs while the men were securing survival kits and were washed across the deck as the vessel was pitching and rolling in the prevailing Force-11 (64-72 mph) winds and 25-30 foot swells.


  • On Friday January 24, the USCG hoisted 17 Ukrainian crewmen off a disabled cargo ship 180 nautical miles southeast of Elizabeth City, NC. USCG Rescue Coordination Center, Norfolk received a distress signal at 0804 reporting that the 600-foot cargo vessel WHITE SEAL was disabled, rolling 45-degrees and taking on water. A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules and two HH-60 Jayhawk helicopters from Air Station Elizabeth City were dispatched to the scene. All 17 crewmembers were hoisted from the ship aboard one of the HH-60 Jayhawks.

During the rescue, seas reached heights of 30-40 feet and winds up to 35-45 knots. Blowing snow and sleet reduced visibility to about one-half mile. No injuries were reported. The WHITE SEAL was scheduled to arrive in Bridgeport, MA, from Haiti on January 22, but was delayed at sea a week due to engine problems.

The ship was reportedly not carrying any cargo. WHITE SEAL hails from Tonga, a small island in the South Pacific. The USCG has issued a notice to mariners advising them of the derelict ship’s location.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The Pacific Maritime Institute (PMI), the West Coast affiliate of MITAGS, has selected Transas Marine USA to provide the Navigational Simulation systems for their new simulation and training facility to be located in the heart of the Port of Seattle.

The 15,000 square foot facility will include a new full mission ship simulator to DNV Class A standards with dual instructor stations, as well as five secondary bridges for operating interactive exercises. Boasting a combination of the latest visual technologies, model databases, and a uniquely flexible design, the bridge simulator will provide a highly realistic training environment both inside and outside the wheelhouse.

Gregg Trunnell, Director of PMI commented:

“One of the main reasons why we selected Transas Marine was because of the wide spectrum of top quality simulation training products that they can provide. Transas simulation solutions are also particularly well suited to our training goals including visual ship handling with tug interaction, electronic charting integrated with radar and AIS, vessel traffic systems, and spill response management training.

“With these tools PMI will be able to offer proficiency-based training to mariners at all stages of their profession, from courses required for license advancement endorsement and renewal, to complete training and education programs for prospective seafarers. PMI’s creative application of Transas Marine’s superior products will provide training options rivaling those offered anywhere in the country.”

PMI’s simulator facility will be used to offer expanded courses to a wide range of maritime professions, including ships and towing officers, tankermen, pilots, the fishing industry, port security officers, vessel traffic control personnel, and many others.

The contract marks a further milestone in the close relationship between PMI and Transas Marine USA that aims to provide for the best possible training, research and technology services to the maritime industry in the region.

The new facility is expected to open in the summer of 2003. For more info related to the PMI, contact Gregg Trunnell at Tel: 206-441-2880 or by Email: or visit PMI’s website at where you can also find the latest schedule with all course descriptions.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



International Shipholding Corp., the parent of MM&P-contracted Waterman Steamship and Central Gulf Line, said it had earnings of $793,000 on revenues of $58.2 million in the fourth quarter ended Dec.31, versus a loss of $1.5 million on revenues of $70 million in the same period the previous year.

For the full year, ISC posted a loss of $136,000 on revenue of $217.8 in 2002 versus a loss of $64.4 million on revenue of $289.9 million in 2001, when it took major write-offs that were required when it discontinued operating many LASH ships.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Alexander & Baldwin Inc., the parent of MM&P-contracted Matson Navigation, said fourth-quarter profits fell sharply due to the US West Coast labor disruptions late last year.
Headquartered in Honolulu, the company had net income of $17.3 million compared with $46.4 million in 2001

Revenue in the fourth quarter of 2002 was $281.8 million, down from $355.2 million a year earlier.

The company noted that the fourth quarters of 2002 and 2001 both were marked by ‘unusual events’ that had negative effects on Matson’s results.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



MM&P-contracted APL Ltd. has announced a reorganization that reduces the carrier’s regional divisions from six to four as the company seeks to regain profitability after posting a series of sizable losses over recent quarters.

The liner unit of Singapore-based Neptune Orient Lines has been headed by Ron Widdows, acting chief executive, since Flemming Jacobs resigned earlier this month. The latest reorganization steps were announced by Widdows and Cheng Wai Keung, chairman of NOL.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Published reports indicate that the Mississippi River has reached abnormally low levels as a result of the long-standing midwestern drought, and that it is beginning to affect waterborne transits on the US inland waterways.

Water levels are expected to recede even further, leaving the river at its lowest depth in over a decade. River barges have faced restricted tow sizes and cargo capacity, run aground in some cases, and in some areas of the river have had to halt operations completely under USCG orders where channels are too shallow to navigate.

The Mississippi is the nation’s largest artery for the shipment of bulk commodities such as coal, grain, petroleum and chemicals, with volumes moving down the waterway valued at more than $31 billion annually.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Port workers in several European Union nations went on strike last week to protest EU plans that they fear would cut their pay, weaken services and reduce port safety.

Workers blocked the entry to all ports in Finland and Belgium and partially closed down the German ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven. Labor action in the Netherlands slowed down work in the world’s biggest port, Rotterdam. Protesters also affected work in French and Spanish ports. A spokesman for the port workers predicted things might get worse if a solution isn’t found shortly.

The EU’s executive Commission is drafting plans to open up docks and harbors to more competition for services, including piloting and the loading and unloading of cargo. It is seeking at least the possibility for two market players in all service sectors in every port.

The EU has been looking into expanding the self-handling of cargo by ship crews, which unions oppose, arguing it could increase accidents and affect safety by having seafarers do longshoremen’s work. It may violate labor laws regarding foreigners without the proper permits.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Class Openings

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

  • 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



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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



    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 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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