Wheelhouse Weekly – July 23, 2013

July 23rd 2013


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

Volume 17 . . . Number 30. . . July 23, 2013


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


The Puerto Rico Hall will be closed on Thursday, July 25, for Constitution Day and on Friday, July 26, in honor of Jose Celso Barbosa, the father of the Puerto Rico statehood movement. The MM&P union halls in Seattle, San Francisco/Oakland and Los Angeles/Long Beach will be closed on Monday, July 29, for the ILWU holiday that commemorates the birthday of visionary labor leader and ILWU founder Harry Bridges.


The Senate Thursday confirmed Tom Perez as Secretary of Labor on a 54-46 vote, making him the second of President Barack Obama’s nominees to win confirmation after last week’s deal to preserve the filibuster. Perez is a life-long public servant who most recently served as the Justice Department’s assistant attorney general for civil rights.

Labor unions and civil rights groups have been strong supporters of Perez because of his efforts to improve conditions for working families while at the Department of Justice and previously as Secretary of Labor for the State of Maryland. He advocates an increase in the federal minimum wage and also has a link to labor issues: his father, who died when Perez was 12, was a member of the Teamsters Union. When he lost his job, the union helped support the family.


MM&P officials attended meetings of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) in Chicago earlier this month. The central theme at the meetings was maintaining the essential bond between longshoremen – “dockers” – and seafarers. This bond is largely responsible for the improvements in wages and working conditions for seafarers aboard Flag-of-Convenience (FOC) vessels —  not to mention aboard national flag vessels of many countries, including those of the United States. Numerous speakers remarked that it is essential that this bond be maintained and in order for unions to continue to have the ability to improve essential terms of employment. Without the economic strength of the dockers’ unions to back them up, seafaring unions throughout the world would be without support. International representatives of seafarers and dockers alike acknowledged that the economic strength of the dockers unions is essential and must be defended.

Specific corporate campaigns against union dockers around the world were discussed at length. These attacks against workers are ongoing in such places as the Port of Auckland, New Zealand, at the newly constructed Dubai Ports World terminal at London Gateway, and in multiple Dubai Ports World locations in India and in Brisbane Australia. Here in the United States, attacks against dockers are being conducted on the Columbia River where Japanese conglomerates, Mitsui and Marubeni continue to lock out the ILWU in the ports of Vancouver WA and Portland OR. In an eloquent statement before the assembled body of the pair Practices Committee, ITF President Paddy Crumlin said: “Some of the action we commit to in this room will determine labor standards including through union recognition and legitimate bargaining rights. World Trade is growing exponentially and if it is to continue to do so functionally, international dockworker labor rights and decent standards need to be respected and not undermined.”

Among the groups that met were the Seafarers’ and Dockers’ Sections and the Fair Trade Practices Committee (FPC), an ITF body comprising seafarer and docker trade union representatives world-wide. The FPC manages FOC campaign policy and oversees ITF minimum collective agreements for seafarers which attempt to ensure decent salaries and conditions for FOC seafarers. Of particular concern to licensed officers, a resolution was passed that restructures how the ITF Maritime Safety Committee is represented at the International Maritime Organization (IMO). MM&P President Don Marcus is a delegate on the Fair Practices Committee Steering Group and MM&P Pilot Group Vice President George Quick and MM&P Director of Government Relations Klaus Luhta are designated representatives for ITF at IMO.


The Historic Erie Canal, which stretches 363 miles from Albany to Buffalo, has been receiving an upsurge in barge traffic in recent years after decades of being used primarily by recreational boats. According to a report broadcast recently on National Public Radio (NPR), the revival in commercial traffic is in large part due to sales of Canadian grain, as well as to the low cost of fuel implicit in use of the canal compared to other transportation modes. The report was prepared by journalist Ryan Delaney.

The canal officially opened in 1825 with some of New York’s largest cities growing up along it. Freight passing through the 500 miles of waterways and locks peaked at five million tons. But the level dropped significantly when the interstate highway system and competing St. Lawrence Seaway to the north opened up. Commercial shipping slowed to just 10,000 tons a year, and recreational boats became the dominant users of the canal, as is still the case today. In 2012, however, the canal saw a four-fold increase in average freight transit. Projections for 2013 are for more than 100,000 tons to be shipped through the waterway.

According to an article in The New York Times, the growth in commercial traffic is due to the rising cost of diesel fuel. Using one gallon of fuel, canal barges can carry a short ton of cargo 514 miles; a train can haul it 202 miles, less than half the distance; and a truck only 59 miles. Canal barges can carry loads of up to 3,000 short tons. They can also transport objects that would be too large for road or rail shipment. Erie Canal Corporation Director Brian Stratton told NPR that as more crops arrive from Canada because of changes in trade law, the canal just happens to be in the right place again. “This system is still here. So it’s an opportunity really to go back to what made this state great, and to use a tremendous infrastructure that 189 years later is still going strong,” he said.


Mondelez , which produces Oreos, Wheat Thins, Chips Ahoy and other popular snack foods, informed its 100-person workforce in Beirut, Lebanon, in May that all local workers were about to lose their jobs. And they had armed gunmen on hand to back them up. The company’s international management told the workers their plant was closed and that production was being moved to Egypt, where Mondelez last year was able to cripple the local union by firing five union leaders. Managers told workers in Beirut it is normal practice to announce plant closings in the presence of armed gunmen. Mondelez immediately moved its equipment to the new site.

The union in Lebanon has since learned that the company had leased its new plant in Egypt six months earlier. A union spokesperson said there has been no progress on negotiations for compensation for loss of jobs. The company has reneged on initial promises to continue paying workers’ medical insurance for the rest of this calendar year and to pay compensation for the legal notice period immediately rather than including it in any final compensation package in order to help workers meet their current financial commitments. The union has sought the assistance of the Labor Ministry of Lebanon in the dispute, so far without success.

Please send a message to Mondelez to protest the company’s actions and demand negotiations with the union for a fair settlement for loss of employment. To take action, go to:
Mondelez is one of the world’s largest snack food producers. Besides Oreos, Wheat Thins and Chips Ahoy, Mondelez also sells the following brands in the United States: Ritz, Triscuit, Nabisco, Cheese Nips, Honey Maid, Nilla, Toblerone, Trident, Halls and Kraft.


The Coast Guard is seeking applicants interested in serving on the Boston Area Maritime Security Committee. Requests for membership should reach the Coast Guard Captain of the Port of Boston on or before Aug. 14, 2013. Applicants should be sent by e-mail to or by mail to Commander, USCG Sector Boston, 427 Commercial Street, Boston, MA 02109. If you have questions, call Phillip C. Smith at 617-223-3008 or send an e-mail to

The advisory committee assists the Captain of the Port in the development, review and update of the Area Maritime Security Plan. This may include: identifying critical port infrastructure and operations; identifying risks; and developing and implementing mitigation strategies.

Members may be selected from the maritime industry, including labor, government, public safety, crisis management, and emergency response agencies, law enforcement and security. Members must have at least five years of experience related to maritime or port security operations. The Boston AMSC has 29 members. The Coast Guard seeks to fill seven positions with this solicitation.

Applicants may be required to pass an appropriate security background check prior to appointment to the committee. Members’ terms of office will be five years; however, a member is eligible to serve additional terms of office. Members will not receive any salary or other compensation for their service on an AMSC.

Those seeking membership are not required to submit formal applications to the local Captain of the Port. They are, however, encouraged to submit resumes highlighting experience in the maritime and security industries.


The Coast Guard has announced that after Aug. 1, it will no longer: maintain a watch on 2182 kHz; guard the Digital Selective Calling (DSC) channel 2187.5 kHz; or transmit Marine Information Broadcasts on 2670 kHz. In announcing its decision, the agency said: “The minimal use of these channels by mariners for distress and safety coupled with antenna site deterioration, costly upkeep and extensive maintenance required to support the medium frequency (MF) system have led to a Coast Guard decision to terminate the MF services and direct the public mariner to use more modern safety and distress services which can be more reliably received.”


Piracy and armed robbery are now far more prevalent in the Gulf of Guinea than off the coast of Somalia, according to a report that was published in Nautilus, the magazine of the British and Dutch officers’ union. More than 900 seafarers were attacked by pirates in West Africa in 2012, according a report, cited in the article, which was compiled by groups that include Oceans Beyond Piracy and One Earth Future Foundation. Analysts estimate that the global cost of piracy is currently almost $18 billion annually.

The study also found that the nature of attacks differs from region to region. In Somalia seafarers are held as hostages and generally kept onboard their ships. The average period of time in which seafarers are held hostage by Somali pirates is now over two years. Violence is extremely frequent: almost all seafarers kidnapped as a result of hijacking by Somali pirates said they had endured physical abuse. In Nigeria, attacks take place in port with pirates seizing cargo and taking the personal effects of the crew.
Successful pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia are becoming rare because ships in need of protection generally carry armed security detachments, cruising speeds have been increased where possible and international navies are patrolling the area. 
“Operations in the Somali Basin have shown that if governments work together, then the threat of piracy can be effectively dealt with and hopefully eventually eradicated,” says Nautilus International General Secretary Mark Dickinson.


The 2013-2014 midterm Congressional election cycle is in full swing, and a number of senators and representatives who support our industry are facing serious, well-financed challenges. Many of these members of Congress–Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives–have worked with us to preserve the Jones Act, to fund the Maritime Security Program and to save the PL 480 food aid program and its U.S.-flag shipping requirement.  These members of Congress stand with us and support us at every turn. It is now important for us to stand with them and give them the support they need to run a successful reelection campaign.

To support the legislators who stand with us, each MM&P active and retired member and employee should make a contribution to the MM&P PCF as quickly as possible. The attacks against our industry show no sign of letting up. Our success and our jobs are directly dependent on those who know and understand the importance of a strong U.S.-flag maritime industry to our nation’s economic, military and homeland security and who are willing to fight for the U.S.-flag merchant marine and for our jobs. It is essential that each of us support the MM&P PCF to the maximum degree possible so that we in turn can support our friends and supporters in Congress. 

If you need more information about the MM&P PCF, please go to or send an e-mail to


Please be sure that MM&P has your current address on file, as well as your e-mail address and cell phone number. If your address has recently changed, or if you have not yet given MM&P your e-mail address and cell phone number, please send an e-mail to that includes your full name, MM&P membership group and complete contact information.


MM&P President Don Marcus will attend the membership meeting at the Charleston Hall scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 14, at 1100 hours.


MITAGS-PMI is seeking part-time simulator operators for the Transas simulation system. Simulator operators are responsible for planning for use of the simulators in all courses and assisting other team members of the Engineering Department in service and support of computer network systems. Major duties include preparing and operating ship simulators for use in courses, assisting simulation engineers in the daily simulation system checks and problem solving, assisting in the development of ship models and databases for simulation systems by organizing and preparing documentation of model and database testing as well as other reports as required. Applicants should have a background or degree in Computer Science/Engineering or other related field, with two years’ experience in network support, systems integration and programming, experience servicing and designing local area networks and personal computer systems and analyzing computer systems, knowledge of, or work experience in the maritime industry, able to work flexible hours, to include early morning, evening and/or weekend


The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will no longer allow employees to make Post-56 Military Service deposits after separation. Employees who have active duty military service after Dec. 31, 1956, should work with their servicing Benefits Specialist to ensure that they are making the right decision regarding their Military Service.

Background: The CSRS and FERS Handbook, Chapter 23, section 23A3.1-1, advises agencies that if an employee intends to make a Post-1956 Military Service deposit at separation, the employee must promptly obtain basic pay information and complete the deposit to the agency before OPM completes adjudication of the retirement claim. OPM has determined that this guidance is out of date. OPM is revising its guidance to specify that payment of the Military Service deposit must be completed prior to separation from the agency except in the case of an administrative error that prevented the employee from completing the deposit.

OPM has already updated the retirement application for CSRS and FERS to clearly state that the deposit must be completed before separation, therefore, no exceptions will be granted by OPM. Employees must be informed of the correct procedures regarding the payment of military deposits prior to separation from federal service. You can visit or contact MM&P Government Fleet Representative Randi Ciszewski,, for more information.


The 2006 Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) will enter into force on Aug. 20, 2013.  It has been described as the fourth pillar of international shipping regulations along with SOLAS, MARPOL and STCW.  The International Labor Organization consolidated a number of previous conventions in MLC 2006. It establishes minimum standards on conditions of employment, accommodations, health and safety, medical care, crew welfare, recruitment, working conditions and social security protection. MLC will be strictly enforced during port state control inspections, including the potential for more detailed inspections and possible detention where hazardous conditions may exist if ships are not to be in compliance. Visit for more information or to register for the MLC course.


There is a new dedicated fax line for Admissions only: Fax: 1-443-568-1928. For all other MITAGS business, please continue to use:  410-859-5181.

Between now and the end of September, the following courses are scheduled at MITAGS.  Please be advised that the schedule is subject to change. For class availability or info on MITAGS courses and programs, contact Kelly Michielli, Admissions Coordinator, toll-free at 866-656-5568 or e-mail: Or, try our on-line calendar to register for class:

AB – 8/19/13

ARPA – Automated Radar Plotting Aids: 8/13/13, 9/24/13

BRM – Bridge Resource Management: 8/26/13

BRMP – Bridge Resource Management for Pilots:  8/19/13, 9/23/13

BST – Basic Safety Training: 8/12/13

CONSTB – Ship Construction and Basic Stability: 7/29/13

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

CMM-ADVWX – Advanced Meteorology: 9/23/13

CMM-ADVNAV – Advanced Navigation (=ECDIS & VPEN): 9/9/13

CMM-ADVSTB – Advanced Stability: 8/5/13

CMM-CHS – Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 8/12/13

CMM-ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display Information System: 7/29/13, 9/9/13

CMM-MPP – Marine Propulsion Plants: 8/26/13

CMM-SHS-ADV-I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 9/9/13, 9/23/13

CMM-SHS-ADV-I I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 8/5/13, 9/16/13, 9/30/13

CMM-VPEN – 9/16/13

CMM-WKP – Advanced Watchkeeping: 9/30/13

ENVIRO-Regs Permit – Environmental Regulations Permit: 8/26/13

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep and Medications:  8/27/13

FF-BADV – Combined Basic and Advanced Fire Fighting: 8/12/13

GMDSS – Global Maritime Distress and Safety System: 8/19/13

HAZ – Hazardous Materials (5 day): 9/16/13

LAP – License Advancement Program for C/Mate & Master: 9/23/13

LAP-ORG3rd – License Advancement Program for Original 3rd Mate, Oceans, Any Gross Ton License: 8/5/13

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 7/24/13, 9/25/13

MCL – Management, Communications and Leadership: 8/19/13

MCL OICNW –Management, Communications, and Leadership OICNW level: 9/3/13

MEDIA-RSP – Media Response Workshop:  7/26/13

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge: 9/9/13

MED-PIC -R– Medical Person in Charge Refresher: 7/29/13

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 9/9/13

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing: 7/28/13, 8/17/13, 9/14/13

MSC -SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualification: 8/19/13, 9/30/13

MSC-DC – Military Sealift Command Damage Control (4 Evenings): 8/19/13, 9/30/13

MSC-CBRD-1 – Military Sealift Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense Orientation (Basic): 8/23/13, 10/4/13

ROR-1N – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 7/24/13, 8/1/13, 8/14/13, 8/28/13, 9/11/13, 9/18/13

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 8/12/13, 9/23/13

ROP-5 – Radar Observer Original and Renewal: 8/5/13

SEC-VSO – Vessel Security Officer: 9/4/13

SHS-BAS – Basic Shiphandling: 8/12/13

SHS-EMR5 – Emergency Shiphandling: 8/19/13

SHS-ESH-BRMP3 – Emergency Shiphandling and Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 7/24/13

TPIC – Tankerman Person in Charge:  8/26/13

WX-BAS – Basic Meteorology: 7/29/13, 9/16/13

…And remember: If you can’t make the class, make the call.  Be courteous, don’t be a “no show.”

Check the MITAGS website at for course descriptions associated with the course title abbreviations, and schedule revisions.


Schedule of Courses – Please also see our schedule online at For registration, call our registrar, Jennifer Pitzen, at (206) 838-1126.

July 2013

29-2       Medical Care Provider

August 2013

5-16       Celestial Navigation
6-7          Successful Safety Management Systems Workshop
12th       Radar Renewal 
12th       Med DOT
12-23     GMDSS
19-23     Medical Care Provider
20th       RFPNW Assessments
26-30     ECDIS
26-30     Basic Cargo Handling and Stowage