Wheelhouse Weekly – July 7, 2015

Volume 20 . . . Number 27. . . July 7, 2015


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The U.K. Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has released new regulations aimed at bringing U.K.-registered ships and all vessels operating in British territorial waters into compliance with IMO regulations on manning levels. The new MCA regulations, released in the form of a Merchant Shipping Notice (MSN), reiterate the safe manning requirements in the STCW Convention and Code, as well as in the STCW regulations that entered into force at the beginning of 2015. The new STCW regulations incorporate IMO Resolution A1047 (27) on the Principles of Safe Manning.

Under its new regulations, the MCA now requires all U.K. seagoing vessels of 500 GT or more to hold a Safe Manning Document specifying minimum manning levels. In preparing a proposal for the minimum safe manning level of a ship, the owner or operator must:

— assess the tasks, duties and responsibilities of the ship’s crew required for safe operation, protection of the marine environment and dealing with emergency situations, including the evacuation of passengers where applicable;

— assess the numbers and grades and/or abilities of crew required for safe manning;

— ensure that the manning level is adequate at all times;

— submit a new proposal in case of changes in trading area(s), operations, construction, machinery, equipment or operation and maintenance.

In conjunction with these factors, the owner or operator must ensure that personnel do not work more hours than is safe by:

— identifying all the functions to be undertaken onboard during a representative voyage or operational period, including determination of the number of personnel required to undertake the relevant tasks and duties under both peak and routine workload conditions;

— identifying functions that constitute normal operations and determining the minimum number of personnel required to undertake concurrent tasks and duties safely;

— identifying the skills and experience required to perform those functions;

— ensuring working arrangements allow for sufficient rest periods to avoid fatigue, drawing up work schedules accordingly.

Under the new MCA regulations, changes must not be made to the schedule unless they can be justified by substantially altered work patterns made necessary, for example, by a change in trading pattern, operation or other significant factor.

The schedule and safe manning level must also take into consideration the number of qualified and other personnel required to meet peak workload situations and conditions, with regards to the number of hours of shipboard duties and rest periods.

Once agreed, the owner or operator is obliged to ensure that, as far as is reasonably practicable, the minimum safe manning level is maintained and that operations are in compliance with the Hours of Work Regulations.

A copy of the agreed schedule must be displayed prominently in the crew accommodation onboard the vessel. Records of seafarers’ daily hours of rest must be maintained. This record must be in an appropriate place and available for MCA inspection.

If, on inspection, the records or other evidence indicates that manning levels are so low as to require the working of hours which exceed the permitted levels or the taking of insufficient hours of rest, the MCA will require that manning levels be adjusted so that the ship can be operated safely within the permitted hours available.

Checking of a ship’s documentation will be carried out by the MCA as part of the normal routine of inspecting vessels and will include a check that records are being maintained and that the appropriate schedules are posted. Following examination, the records will be endorsed as part of the examination process.

“Fatigue and manning are clearly interrelated,” says MM&P Pilots Group Vice President George Quick, who serves as the MM&P representative to the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) delegation to the IMO.

“The key to implementation and enforcement lies in having a transparent methodology to establish manning levels, along with the requirement that documentation of that methodology and the factors taken into account be carried aboard ship for port state control monitoring and enforcement.”

The three organizations that represent officers aboard U.S.-flag ships—MM&P, MEBA and AMO—jointly sent a letter to the Coast Guard in January calling the agency’s attention to the fact that new IMO regulations changing the methodology for establishing manning levels had gone into effect and asking for a meeting to discuss steps needed to conform U.S. regulations to the new IMO requirements. As yet, there has been no meeting scheduled by the USCG to discuss this important issue.

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Crewmembers of the MT ALEXANDER SPIRIT are striking over a plan to offshore their jobs. The offshoring plan is part of the government of Australia’s push to do away with the nation’s cabotage laws. For the past week, the 36-person crew of the ALEXANDER SPIRIT has refused to sail the tanker from the port of Devonport, Tasmania. Yesterday they were joined in protest by 200 union members and local residents. The strike began when the crewmembers were told that, upon their arrival in Singapore, they would be replaced by a foreign crew.

The Bahamas-flagged ALEXANDER SPIRIT is operated under a time-charter with the Australian oil company Caltex. The company announced last week that the tanker “will be redeployed to the international fuel supply chain, spending most of its time in international waters competing against every other ship importing fuel into Australia… Caltex needs to ensure the ship’s operational arrangements, including crewing, are aligned with industry so it is not at a competitive disadvantage,” the statement added.

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) says the standoff must be viewed in the context of the Australian government’s campaign to eliminate the country’s cabotage laws. “Why is the government allowing Caltex to run roughshod over the intent of cabotage laws by allowing this replacement vessel to do what was, up until today, the ALEXANDER SPIRIT run?” asked MUA Assistant National Secretary Ian Bray. “So many unanswered questions and I think the crew has a right to know why they have been cast aside in the worst way possible,” he added.

In May, Australia’s conservative government announced its new plan for coastal shipping, which included changes that would dismantle a comprehensive reform package delivered by the previous government in 2012, known as the Revitalizing Australian Shipping Act, which created a level playing field for Australia’s domestic shipping and protects local Australian ships and crews from cut-rate flag-of-convenience (FOC) operators.

“If we follow this new plan and abandon our maritime industry to a liberalized market and the influence of multinational corporations’ insatiable need for bigger profits, then Australia will place our food, fuel, energy and national security in the hands of foreigners,” said a speaker at the rally, Sen. Jacqui Lambie, who represents Tasmania in Australia’s parliament.

“It won’t just be the 36 men and women aboard the ALEXANDER SPIRIT who lose their jobs, if the Abbott government gets its way and is able to completely dismantle the Coastal Trading Act, the jobs of all workers on Australian ships will be under threat,” says Tasmanian Labor Leader Bryan Green.

“FOC shipping is riddled with morally ambiguous and sometimes criminal practices, yet the Australian government wants to make ships of shame the new normal rather than the extreme exception,” says International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) President Paddy Crumlin. “The removal of cabotage would weaken labor and safety standards and threaten thousands of domestic jobs in Australia’s maritime sector.”

Cabotage laws, such as the Jones Act in the United States, require domestic freight to be handled by citizen mariners aboard ships that fly each country’s national flag. Besides Australia and the United States, Japan, China, Indonesia and the Philippines are among the nations that have cabotage laws.

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Critics of the Jones Act say it is partly to blame for the debt crisis in Puerto Rico, which recently announced it is unable to repay debts totaling more than $72 billion. A report commissioned by the governor of the U.S. territory calls the Jones Act, which requires that cargo moving between two U.S. ports be carried on American vessels crewed by American mariners, a drag on the economy.

The governor of Puerto Rico, Alejandro García Padilla, appeared on television on June 29 requesting help and permission from creditors to restructure the island’s debt. Like Greece, Puerto Rico is seeking to renegotiate and postpone payments on its debts to bondholders. Puerto Rico does not have the option of seeking bankruptcy protection from creditors because of its commonwealth status.

As in the case of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, advocates for foreign shipping interests have been quick to seize on the situation to push for elimination of the Jones Act.

“Taxes continue to go up [in Puerto Rico], but so do other costs,” according to an article published in the July 3 issue of The New York Times. “Living on an island, many business owners must ship their goods in from a mainland port, already a costly proposition. But a 1920 law, the Jones Act, which requires Puerto Rico to receive its shipments from the United States on American-built ships with mainly American crews, makes the cost of transporting goods even more expensive.”

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in a March 2013 report said its researchers had found no evidence at all that a shift to foreign-flag shipping would save the island or its residents any money. The agency also warned that changes to the act “could result in the disappearance of most U.S.-flag vessels in this trade, having a negative impact on the U.S. merchant marine and the shipyard industrial base that the Act was meant to protect.”

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The MM&P training facility MITAGS was the central focus of an article on union training programs that was published in the June 29 edition of The Washington Post. In the article, Washington Post writer Lydia DePillis described how companies in many industries are having trouble finding the highly skilled, professional workers needed to perform many jobs. The article is entitled, “Corporate America Beat Back Its Best Job Trainers, Now It’s Paying a Price.”

As the labor movement as a whole has lost ground over the years, she writes, businesses in vast sectors of the economy are “scrambling to meet their workforce needs through other means, like piecemeal job training programs and partnerships with community colleges…”

“What is sorely needed are forums for scaling,” she quotes Brookings Institution scholar Mark Muro as saying. Without partnerships with unions, “it’s extremely difficult for companies to organize [such programs] properly… obtain these certification systems and have agreements for what the testing systems are,” he says.

To research the article, DePillis and a photographer spent time in the TRANSAS simulator at MITAGS and interviewed MM&P members who sail for the Alaska Marine Highway System. “Companies say they can’t find skilled workers,” she writes. “Turns out unions are pretty good at providing them.”

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The Metropolitan Baltimore Council of AFL-CIO Unions has joined the chorus of voices urging Congress to renew the charter of the Export-Import Bank. The bank helps finance the export of American goods and services from companies throughout the country. It is important to the maritime industry because a percentage of the products exported with Export-Import Bank financing must be shipped on U.S.-flag commercial vessels, providing a significant source of cargo for American mariners and ships. For 70 years, the bank has always been reauthorized on a bipartisan basis. But on June 30, primarily because of an attack by Tea Party Republicans, it lost its authority to extend new loans and Congress left town without renewing its charter.

“The Export-Import Bank does not cost American taxpayers a dime,” wrote Ernest Grecco, president of the Metropolitan Baltimore Council of AFL-CIO Unions, in a letter to Maryland Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin. Grecco asked that the two urge Senate leaders to schedule a vote to renew the bank’s charter when Congress returns to Washington later in July. Far from running a deficit, the bank has provided $7 billion to the U.S. Treasury in recent years.

Grecco said it was particularly important to the Port of Baltimore: over the past five years, he said, 68 Maryland firms, including 46 small businesses, have exported $1.3 billion worth of products with help from the bank. Other countries that compete with America for international trade provide loans to support their own exports. Ex-Im Bank “allows U.S.-made products to be exported around the world on a level playing field with other countries,” Grecco wrote.

Congressional Democrats and many Republicans are determined to ensure the bank can continue to operate. When the bank was last reauthorized, in 2012, a solid majority of House Republicans supported it, joining a unanimous bloc of Democrats in a vote of 330 to 93. Proponents of the bank cite 2014 statistics showing that nationwide last year, Ex-Im loans supported $27.5 billion worth of exports and 164,000 U.S. jobs.

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There will be a membership meeting at the MM&P New York/New Jersey Union Hall on Wednesday, July 8, immediately after job call at 1100. All members in the area are encouraged to attend the meeting.

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The next Offshore Membership Meeting at the Los Angeles/Long Beach Hall will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 5 after the 1100 job call.

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The new MM&P International Constitution, approved by membership referendum in December of last year, is being mailed to every member of the union. Members should expect to receive their copies in the coming days.

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More than 60 people are believed to have died in a ferry accident in the Philippines. Police have filed murder charges against the owner and crew of the ferry, the MV KIM NIRVANA, which sank on July 2. The police said the vessel was overloaded with passengers and had also been carrying a cargo of cement and rice, which might have shifted when it made a sharp turn before capsizing off the Port of Ormoc. About 140 people were rescued. The United Filipino Seafarers (UFS) union has blamed local maritime authorities for the accident, saying they should never have approved the vessel’s double-decker design. According to the UFS, photos of the ferry clearly show that it was unseaworthy.

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MITAGS needs your current address! Have you moved recently? Did you remember to send MITAGS your new address for communications regarding courses? Please send your current contact information to or to the fax number below.

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

For class availability or information on MITAGS courses and programs, contact Kelly Michielli, Admissions Coordinator, toll-free at 866-656-5568 or by e-mail: . Why not try our on-line calendar to register for class:

Please note the special addition to our on-campus schedule of MSC classes marked with an asterisk (*), which are not normally scheduled to be held at MITAGS.

AB – 8/17/15, 10/12/15

AIS-1 – Automatic Identifications Systems Orientation: 7/13/15

ARPA-OIC – Automated Radar Plotting Aids: 8/4/15, 9/22/15, 1/26/16

AZIPOD 2-Day – 10/1/15

BRM-35 – Bridge Resource Management: 8/3/15, 10/19/15, 2/1/16

BRMP –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 7/16/15, 11/9/15

BRMP-EMR –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots with Emergency Shiphandling: 9/28/15

BT – Basic Safety Training: 8/10/15, 10/5/15, 1/25/16

BT-Revalidation – 8/4/15, 11/3/15

CHS-OIC – Cargo Handling Basic: 10/26/15

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

ADVNAV-CMM – Advanced Navigation (=ECDIS & VPEN): Contact Admissions

ADVSTB-CMM – Advanced Stability: 7/27/15, 9/28/15, 1/25/16, 3/28/16

ADVWX-CMM – Advanced Meteorology: 8/3/15, 10/19/15, 1/4/16, 3/7/16

CHS-CMM – Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 10/5/15

ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display Information System: 8/17/15, 9/21/15, 10/5/15,11/2/15, 12/7/15, 1/11/16, 2/22/16, 3/21/16

LMS – Leadership and Managerial Skills (Management Level – Formerly MCL-CMM):7/13/15, 8/10/15, 8/31/15, 9/28/15, 10/26/15, 11/16/15, 11/30/15, 1/18/16, 2/15/16,3/14/16

MPP-CMM – Marine Propulsion Plants: 11/16/15

SEC-APPS – Practical Security Applications: 8/24/15, 10/12/15, 3/28/16

SHMGT-CMM- Ship Management (2 weeks): 9/14/15

SHS-ADV-I-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 7/13/15, 8/10/15, 8/24/15,10/5/15, 11/9/15, 11/30/15, 1/11/16, 2/8/16, 3/14/16

SHS-ADV-II-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 7/20/15, 8/17/15, 8/31/15,10/12/15, 11/16/15, 12/7/15, 1/18/16, 2/15/16, 3/21/16

VPEN-CMM – Voyage Planning & Electronic Navigation: 11/30/15, 2/29/16

WKP-CMM – Advanced Watchkeeping: 11/9/15

CNAV-OIC – Celestial Navigation: 11/9/15

CONT PLNG – Contingency Planning Workshop: Contact Admissions

CRISIS-COMMS – Crisis Communications: 7/9/15

DDE – Great Lakes: 2/1/16

DPA – Contact Admissions

ECDIS-OIC – Contact Admissions

ECDIS-Pilots – 7/14/15, 11/12/15

ERM – Engine Resource Management: 7/20/15, 8/24/15, 9/21/15, 10/19/15, 11/9/15,12/14/15, 1/4/16, 2/8/16, 3/21/16

FF-BADV – Fire Fighting Combined Basic & Advanced: 8/10/15, 10/5/15, 1/25/16, 2/22/16

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep, & Medications: 9/15/15, 11/11/15

GL Pilot – Great Lakes Pilotage Familiarization: 1/22/16

GMDSS – Global Maritime Distress and Safety System: 8/24/15, 3/7/16

HAZ – Hazardous Materials (5 day): 8/31/15, 11/16/15

LAP- 9/14/15

LAP-Great Lakes – License Advancement Program – Great Lakes: 1/25/16

LAP-ORG3rd – License Advancement Program for Original 3rd Mate, Oceans, Any Gross
Ton License: 8/3/15, 11/30/15, 3/7/16

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 7/16/15, 9/16/15, 11/10/15

LNG-TPIC – 12/7/15

LTS –Leadership and Teamworking Skills (Formerly MCL-OIC): 9/21/15

MEECE – Management of Electrical and Electronic Control: 8/17/15, 9/14/15, 10/12/15, 11/2/15, 12/7/15, 1/11/16, 2/22/16, 3/28/16

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge: 8/24/15, 12/7/15, 1/4/16

MED-PIC-REF– Medical Person in Charge Refresher: 7/27/15, 9/28/15, 2/1/15, 3/14/16

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 8/24/15, 10/12/15, 12/7/15, 1/4/15, 2/15/16

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing: 7/25/15, 8/28/15, 11/5/15, 12/12/15, 1/9/15, 1/31/16

MSA –Maritime Security Awareness: Contact Admissions

[MSC – Military Sealift Command Courses]

MSC-CBRD-1 – Military Sealift Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense Orientation (Basic): 8/19/15, 10/29/15, 3/8/16

MSC-DC – Military Sealift Command Damage Control (4 Evenings): 8/17/15, 10/27/15, 3/5/16

*MSC-ENVPRO –8/16/15, 10/31/15, 2/28/16

*MSC-FF-HELO –8/3/15, 11/2/15, 2/22/16

MSC-SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualification: 8/8/15, 10/19/15, 1/4/16, 2/29/16

*MSC-Security Watch Basic – 8/6/15, 10/17/15, 2/26/16

*MSC-Security Watch Advanced –8/12/15, 10/23/15, 1/8/16, 3/4/16

*MSC-Ship’s Reaction Force –8/13/15, 10/24/15, 1/10/16, 3/5/16

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 8/3/15, 9/21/15, 1/25/16

ROR-1N – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 7/8/15, 7/22/15, 8/5/15, 8/19/15, 9/2/15, 9/16/15, 9/30/15, 10/14/15, 10/28/15, 11/3/15, 11/11/15, 11/18/15, 12/2/15, 12/10/15, 1/6/16, 1/13/16, 2/3/16

ROU-OIC – Radar Observer Program – Unlimited: 7/27/15, 1/18/16, 2/1/16

SAR-OIC – Search & Rescue – 10/19/15

SHS-BAS-OIC – Basic Shiphandling: 11/2/15, 2/15/16

SHS-EMR5 – Emergency Shiphandling-5 Day: 7/27/15, 9/28/15, 1/25/16

SMS – Contact Admissions

STB-OIC – Ship Construction and Basic Stability: 8/3/15, 2/8/16

TCNAV/CO – Terrestrial Navigation and Compasses: 1/4/16

TPIC – Tankerman Person in Charge: 8/3/15

TRAC-TUG-2: Contact Admissions

TTT – Contact Admissions

VPDSD – Vessel Personnel with Designated Security Duties: Contact Admissions

VSO – Vessel Security Officer: 7/22/15, 9/9/15, 10/7/15, 10/17/15, 2/15/16

WKP-OIC – Watchkeeping (Operational Level): 9/28/15, 3/21/16

WX-OIC –Meteorology (Operational Level): 9/14/15, 2/29/16

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Please also see our schedule and enroll online at For registration contact our registrar, Jennifer Pitzen: 206.838.1126 or

July 2015

13-17 Leadership and Managerial Skills
13-24 GMDSS
20-23 ARPA
27-31 Radar Observer Unlimited

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The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly is the official electronic newsletter of the International Organization of Masters, Mates, & Pilots, ILA, AFL-CIO, 700 Maritime Blvd. Suite B, Linthicum Heights, MD 21090-1953. Phone: 410-850-8700; Fax: 410-850-0973. All rights reserved. The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly © 2015. Articles can be reprinted without prior permission if credit is given to The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly. For address changes, send an e-mail to Back issues of The Weekly are posted on