Wheelhouse Weekly – July 21, 2000

July 21st 2000


Bridging the Information Gap With E-News You Can Use

VOLUME 4. . . . . NUMBER 29. . . July 21, 2000



Voyager Holdings announced today that Banc of America Securities LLC has arranged and structured financing for a project that would enable Voyager to acquire and construct cruise vessels for the United States domestic trades.

Voyager has entered into an agreement with MM&P-contracted Patriot Holdings to provide crewing and management for Voyager’s vessels. In addition to MM&P, crews will be drawn from the other American maritime labor unions that have contracts with Patriot, including MEBA, SUP, MFOW and SIU. Voyager’s decision to proceed with its cruise vessel acquisition and construction program follows the recent Senate Commerce Committee approval of Senator John McCain’s innovative cruise fleet development legislation.

As approved by the Senate Commerce Committee, the legislation sponsored by Senator John McCain and strongly backed by the MM&P is the United States Cruise Vessel Act (S.1510). It would allow a company to operate a foreign built US-flag cruise vessel in the domestic trades provided the company has first entered into a contract to build at least two replacement cruise vessels in an American shipyard.

Al Wallack, President of Voyager stated, “Its enactment into law will give us the chance to put Americans to work on board American cruise ships, in American ship repair and construction facilities, and in a wide range of shoreside positions. It will allow us to offer American business and vacation travelers new and expanded cruise options and itineraries, including those that involve American ports that are rarely served by cruise ships.”

Banc of America and Voyager have agreed on a financing structure that would, upon the enactment of Senator McCain’s legislation, enable Voyager to acquire at least three existing cruise vessels that the company would document under the American flag and operate with American crews. In addition, according to Carl Salas, Banc of America Securities LLC, managing director, “Bank of America has arranged financing of the contract price that, in conjunction with the ship construction loan guarantees issued by the United States Maritime Administration, will enable Voyager to build cruise vessels in the United States.” Salas further stated that “a financing structure has been arranged which will enable Voyager to meet the requirements of the Maritime Administration’s loan guarantee program.”

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


Government members aboard the US DREDGE WHEELER, of the New Orleans District of the US Army Corps of Engineers, returned to port last week after completing several weeks of emergency dredging operations, once again proving their Ready Reserve status rapid response capabilities.

On June 13, 10 miles below the Port of Lake Charles, LA, on the Calcasieu River, a dry-dock belonging to a local shipyard sunk in the middle of the 40-foot ship channel while the yard was attempting to lift a small ship for repairs. The resultant channel blockage closed the river to ship traffic in and out of the Port, stranding tankers in the port and blocking ships awaiting entrance for unloading.

By June 16, the Corps of Engineers had declared a state of emergency relative to navigation, and called for emergency dredging work to dredge a new, deep-draft side channel around the sunken dry-dock in order to allow ships to pass. This involved deepening the existing side of the channel from as shallow as 25 feet to 40 feet as quickly as possible.

Due to the lack of available disposal areas and the inability to further obstruct the remaining half-channel in any way, traditional pipeline “cutterhead” dredges could not be used. Instead, a small fleet of hopper dredges was mobilized to move over 250,000 yards of material to a disposal site 33 miles down river in the Gulf of Mexico.

With such a long transit to the disposal area, it was important to get the most material moved per dredged load as efficiently as possible. This was achieved by activating the US DREDGE WHEELER, the largest, most sophisticated dredging ship in the US, known for her pumping power and economical dredging costs. She is a Ready Reserve dredging ship belonging to the Corps of Engineers, homeported in New Orleans and manned by MMP, MEBA, and NMU civil service mariners.

She received the emergency callout order from Washington Corps HQ in the late morning hours of June 16, to transit the 300+ mile journey to Lake Charles and begin operations as quickly as possible. The WHEELER maintains a readiness posture that calls for her to respond to dredging emergencies worldwide within 72 hours. Once alerted, the expert crew activated the ship and was heading down the Mississippi in 8 hours.

By June 18, the WHEELER was operating 24 hours a day, dredging with all her might on a very shallow bank, often grounding and plowing through the river bottom in an attempt to clear a channel at all costs. The ship is 410 feet long and 100 feet wide (with dragarms deployed), requiring a minimum of 24 feet of depth (light) to 30 feet of depth (loaded) to operate in.

The work area consisted of a 400-foot wide channel with a channel side of 25 feet to 35 feet to dredge. This meant the ship had to be turned around in her own length regularly to return to the Gulf of Mexico for off-loading.

Working 24/7 with three private industry dredges, the new channel was rapidly cleared for deep-draft ship traffic. By July 3 most traffic had resumed normal operations. The WHEELER conducted “cleanup” efforts until July 9 when she left the scene to return to port. All during the dredging operation, salvage operations were underway with divers in the water. Navigational traffic was not impeded. In short, the WHEELER and the other dredge ships created a new channel in remarkable time without interfering with normal river operations.

The officers and crew of the WHEELER were commended by all for their rapid response and a job well done … nothing out of the ordinary for this dedicated and efficient group of skilled union mariners!

(Ed. Note: Thanks to Capt. Ed Morehouse of the WHEELER for providing info used in this report.)

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


Last week the USS DENVER (LPD 9) and MM&P-crewed Military Sealift Command’s USNS YUKON (T-AO 202) collided while conducting underway replenishment operations 180 miles west of Oahu, Hawaii. There were no personnel injuries on either ship.

USS DENVER and USNS YUKON sustained structural damage but were able to operate on their own power. Both ships are currently undergoing repairs in Pearl Harbor.

The DENVER, which can transport troops, cargo and tanks, has a crew of 400 sailors and can carry up to 600 Marines. It is homeported in San Diego and was on its way home from a deployment that began in January. The YUKON operates out of Pearl Harbor. It has a crew of 60 civilians and 20 Navy sailors.

Initial reports said the DENVER had been sailing behind and to the starboard side of the YUKON. The goal was to catch up and sail along the YUKON’s port side, match the speed of the oiler – about 12 knots – and then start a refueling operation. But the bow of the DENVER struck the starboard rear quarter of the YUKON. Both skippers were on the bridge at the time.

The collision remains under investigation. More info about USS DENVER is available at More info about USNS YUKON is available at

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


The US Department of Labor awarded $4,000,000 to the Gulf Coast Mariners Incumbent Worker Demonstration Program. This landmark grant will fund STCW-95 training to mariners working in the offshore oil industry located in the Gulf of Mexico.

Due to the lack of union representation in the gulf region, most of these mariners do not have access union funded training programs. Without this grant, these mariners face the prospect of diminishing employment opportunities. The goal of the grant is to get as many gulf coast mariners qualified for the new STCW-95 certification before 2002.

The grant will be administrated by the Louisiana Human Resource Development Institute. LHRDI is a non-profit organization initiated by the AFL-CIO to help fund worker training programs. STCW training costs can be substantial running from about $650 for a deckhand and ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 for a captain.

“This new program offering free training to mariners demonstrates what a good, strong union movement is all about,” said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, “because our mission is to improve the lives of workers and their families and to improve the communities they live in.”

Three AFL-CIO maritime unions MM&P, MEBA, and SIU are among those providing instruction on different portions of the STCW curriculum at various locations throughout the gulf region.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


The following is a partial listing of the resolutions approved by delegates to the 78th Convention. The balance of the resolutions will appear in next week’s issue. All approved resolutions will be printed in their entirety in the next MM&P newspaper.

Resolution 3, As Amended: Representation on Local Labor Councils. The MM&P will request volunteers from each port to attend local labor council meetings, and that volunteers be apprised of current issues prior to attending such meetings.

Resolution 4, As Amended: Re-entry of AMO into the AFL-CIO. IOMM&P will object to the re-entry of AMO into the AFL-CIO until it enters into an agreement regarding the sanctions imposed against AMO by AFL-CIO as a result of violations of the AFL-CIO’s Article XX prohibition against union raiding of the IOMM&P.

Resolution 5, As Amended: Establishing a Members Only Interactive Bulletin Board on the Internet. A Members’-Only Internet bulletin board is to be established by the MM&P by December 31, 2000. The bulletin board will be password accessible to MM&P members and may be used as a means of internal discussion among members.

Resolution 6, As Amended: Right of IOMM&P Employees to Organize. The convention reaffirmed as a matter of policy the right of all IOMM&P employees to organize and collectively bargain, subject to the provision of law, and the right of all employees of IOMM&P to a grievance procedure.

Resolution 8: Reaffirmation of the IOMM&P’s Commitment to the Principles of Unionism and Repudiating the Practices of Non-AFL-CIO Affiliated Maritime Manning Agencies. The 78th Convention Delegates resolved that the MM&P will repudiate the practices of non-AFL-CIO affiliated maritime manning agencies who accept wages and benefits for their members inferior to the standards held by the MM&P and other bona fide maritime unions; that the MM&P denounce such tactics as detrimental to the MM&P membership and that the MM&P reject such tactics as perilous to all unions and to the fundamental principles, standards and ethics of unionism.

Resolution 9: Maritime Tax Policy. Convention delegates to the 78th IOMM&P Convention resolved to support the enactment of legislation (HR 3225/S.1858) to improve the tax treatment of the US-flag maritime industry, and which provides “tax equity” for American merchant mariners through HR 3162.

Resolution 10: In Appreciation of Congressman Herb Bateman. The IOMM&P expresses its appreciation to Congressman Herb Bateman (R-VA) for his many years of friendship and for the many battles he has fought on behalf of the MM&P and the US maritime industry. The MM&P also extends its warmest regards to Rep. Bateman and his family along with best wishes for a long and happy retirement.

Resolution 11: Protection of Seamen Against Economic Reprisal Act of 1999. MM&P supports the enactment of HR 714 and other initiatives to protect mariners from reprisals in their efforts to ensure safety of life and property on the nation’s inland, coastal and other waterways. The MM&P additionally extends its appreciation to Congressman Leonard Boswell (D-ID) and those in the House of Representatives who have cosponsored this bill.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


We have received requests from members at sea to include the Dow Jones Industrial Average and NASDAQ Composite Index closing numbers for the week. Since the Wheelhouse Weekly is usually distributed before the markets close on Friday, the numbers cited will be from Thursday’s close unless otherwise specified.



+55.61 for the week



+9.70 for the week

We have also received requests to list the following five funds that are representative of many members’ IRAP holdings in Vanguard Mutual Funds. Space limitations preclude listing additional funds at this time. In future weeks, the change up or down for the week will also be indicated for the stock averages quoted above and the mutual funds listed below:

 Vanguard 500 Index Fund


-0.01 for the week

 Vanguard Extended Market Index Fund


-0.06 for the week

 Vanguard International Growth Fund


-0.27 for the week

 Vanguard Morgan Growth Fund


-0.14 for the week

 Vanguard Windsor II Fund


+0.18 for the week

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly

The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly is being produced under MM&P election guidelines which have been previously published and may be found in their entirety on the MM&P website. The 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 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 under “News” at:

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