Wheelhouse Weekly – June 10, 2014

June 10th 2014


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

Volume 18 . . . Number 23 . . . June 10, 2014


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


All MM&P Pacific Ports will be closed on Wednesday, June 11, for King Kamehameha Day. This is a Matson contractual holiday and a Longshore Holiday in Hawaiian ports. The Houston Hall will be closed on June 19 for Emancipation Day.


The Senate Appropriations Committee last week voted to restore full funding for the Maritime Security Program (MSP) for Fiscal Year 2015. The legislation approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee would fund MSP at $186 million, the full amount needed to maintain the 60-ship fleet. As previously reported, in May, the House Appropriations Committee passed a Transportation Appropriations bill that would slash $20 million of the $186 million dollar MSP budget, putting six to seven ships at risk. It remains to be seen how the differences between the House and Senate bill will be resolved. In the meantime, MM&P and MIRAID will be working with the other maritime unions and companies, and our friends and supporters in Congress, to assure this critically important program receives full funding.

In related news, the Ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.) and Committee Member Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) have introduced legislation to implement the Administration’s proposal to shift the PL 480 Program from a commodity-based program to a cash voucher giveaway program. The Administration’s proposal would significantly reduce the amount of U.S.-produced food sent overseas, and the amount of food aid cargoes transported by U.S.-flag vessels. The House of Representatives rejected similar legislation in June 2013. 


The turnover of eight Watson Class LMSRs to Patriot Contract Services concluded last week after the Company assumed management of the USNS WATKINS at the Bayonne Dry Dock in New Jersey. Patriot continues to praise the expertise and professionalism of its crews, which it said has streamlined the transition. If you have any questions or if you are interested in working aboard these vessels, please call MM&P Government Crewing Coordinator Robert P. Chiesa at 443-784-8788 or send an e-mail to


The Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center (NMC) says that although some improvement in credential processing time has been registered since December, it is still encountering “challenges that have significantly impacted [its] ability to return to previous performance levels.”

The agency said the backlog is due to the recent implementation of the new STCW Final Rule, medical certificates, a shortage of several NMC employees and “persistent technology issues.” It also said an unexpectedly high number of mariners are applying for credentials, something it referred to as “Spring Surge.” The agency said it has taken on new staff and used money allocated to overtime to boost production, and has added new technologies to the mix.

“While all this had been instituted, we have been extending mariners’ credentials on a case-by-case basis and will continue to do so,” said NMC Commanding Officer Jeffrey P. Novotny in an official statement. The agency is asking mariners to submit applications for renewals and applications for original credentials 90 days in advance of when they will be needed. 
For medical certificates, it asks applicants to read up on the requirements on its website, to take a copy of Navigation and Inspection Circular (NVIC) 04-08 with them when they get their physical and to ask their doctor to provide as much information as possible for any listed medical condition.


The tremendous amount of ice that covered the Great Lakes over the winter and early spring was still having an impact in May, according to the Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA), which represents U.S.-flag vessel operators on the Great Lakes.

Iron ore shipments on the Great Lakes totaled 6.4 million tons in May, the same as a year ago, despite the fact that an improving economy could have resulted in higher numbers. The total would have been about 600,000 tons more, according to LCA, but three 1,000-foot-long U.S.-flag lakers were out of service for a combined 65 days to repair ice damage. The LCA reported that rising water levels did allow for bigger loads than was the case a year ago, but that “dredging remains very much needed.”

The organization reported that year-to-date, the ore trade stands at 12.7 million tons, a decrease of 26 percent compared to a year ago. The decrease reflects the brutal ice conditions that prevailed well into April. It was not until May 2 that the U.S. Coast Guard allowed vessels to transit Lake Superior unescorted. Ice still present on the Great Lakes is greatly affecting transportation, causing shipment numbers to stagnate or decrease, the LCA said. In March, ice up to four feet thick covered over 80 percent of the Lakes, doubling or even tripling transit times for the fleet. Grand River Navigation’s President Mark Rohn said the severity of the situation recalled the record-breaking winter of 1993-94.

LCA members operate 57 U.S.-flag lakers that can carry more than 115 million tons of cargo in a year, including limestone, coal, cement, salt, sand and grain. The vast majority of cargo carried by U.S.-flag lakers moves in the Jones Act trades between U.S. ports.


The Social Security Administration (SSA) would eliminate over 1000 community field offices, replacing face-to-face interaction with Internet services and an 800 phone number under its proposed Long Term Strategic Vision for 2025. The story, reported by Labor Notes, details that were SSA to adopt the changes fully, it would result in the closing of 1,250 field offices and the layoff of over 30,000 employees who work in them. 

“Americans are going to be cheated out of what they deserve just for SSA to save a buck,” said Witold Skwierczynski of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which represents many of the government employees who work at SSA. “People rely on trained staff to understand the complex SSA system, their eligibility and benefit options. Under Vision 2025, this level of customer service will be a thing of the past. Every Social Security beneficiary deserves the personal assistance they have paid for their entire lives.” Skwierczynski added that, according to SSA employee surveys, many beneficiaries who file on the internet make decisions that could lead to the permanent loss of benefits–something that a trained employee would help them avoid.

AFGE says that Americans should have the right to select the method they want to use to file for benefits, whether it’s face-to-face, by telephone or via the Internet. “This plan would be the end of Social Security as we know it,” said Skwierczynski. “No one asked for this plan. These benefits belong to all Americans, the beneficiaries of Social Security.”


The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and its affiliates launched a week of action at the end of May to combat “shocking levels of crew abuse and unseaworthy vessels” at ports on the Black Sea. Two years after the ITF and its unions in Black Sea countries launched an intensive campaign to expose these shameful conditions, the region “remains one of the most dangerous places on earth to be a seafarer,” the ITF said. The recent week of action was the latest step in the campaign to publicize and improve “a disgraceful situation”: joint teams of ITF inspectors and union activists in Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine spent the week inspecting ships, informing seafarers of their rights–particularly under the Maritime Labor Convention 2006 (MLC)—and underlining the need for drastic action by littoral state governments.

“Any honest observer will find themselves appalled by the low standards in this region,” says ITF Maritime Coordinator Tomas Abrahamsson. “The state of some of these vessels and the abominable working conditions on them almost defy description.” He said unions are fighting to improve the situation, “even in the face of current political events.” Port State Control officers in Bulgaria and Russia have recently detained several ships, “but much more needs to be done,” he said.
The ITF report on the region, “The Black Sea of Shame,” is posted at Among the findings: frequent serious accidents and poor living and working conditions. “The region is still a haven for older vessels with inadequate insurance operated by owners with scant regard for obligations to their crew,” the ITF says.


Captain Jeff Cowan, a long-time member of MM&P, has been appointed to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Navigation Safety Advisory Council (NAVSAC). Cowan now works as an oil spill prevention specialist in the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response. He is a frequent contributor to MM&P publications. NAVSAC was established by Congress as a deliberative body to advise the Secretary of Transportation, via the Coast Guard Commandant, on matters relating to the prevention of collisions, rammings and groundings, including, but not limited to: Inland Rules of the Road, International Rules of the Road, navigation regulations and equipment, routing measures, marine information, diving safety and aids to navigation systems.


A membership meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday, June 11, at 1100 in the New York/New Jersey Hall. All members in the area are encouraged to attend the meeting.


The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the International Union of Food, Agricultural and Hospitality Workers (IUF) are demanding reinstatement of 78 unfairly fired workers at Philippines seafood supplier Citra Mina. The fired workers are fishermen and cannery workers at the company, which is based in General Santos. They were dismissed when they asked that their union be recognized. A strike and mediation efforts followed, but the 78 are still barred from their jobs. Before the strike there were around 400 regular employees in the company, while about a thousand were contract workers. Today, there are only 72 regular workers left.

“This is the Philippines’ second largest seafood exporter,” said ITF/IUF organizer Liz Blackshaw. “It stands accused of continuing exploitation of its workforce, which it has dangled on short-term contracts in defiance of national law. Blackshaw coordinates the unions’ “Catcher to Counter Initiative,” which works to build worker representation and improve conditions across the global fishing industry. She said the ITF and IUF are meeting with local and national government as well as the company’s management to find a solution to the impasse. In the meantime, the workers are receiving support from the church, local labor union and community groups. To find out more, go to:


If you are interested in attending the Offshore Familiarization Course, please contact your MM&P Vice President to request that one be scheduled in your area. An Offshore Orientation Course is now scheduled for New York/New Jersey on June 10 and for Los Angeles/Long Beach on Oct. 8-9. If you are interested in participating in the course, please contact the Los Angeles/Long Beach Hall: 310-834-7201 or 310-834-6667 (fax). There is no sea-time requirement to take the course. All Offshore applicants, potential transferees from other membership groups and other interested Offshore members are encouraged to take the course as soon as possible.


The 2006 Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) entered into force on Aug. 20. 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.


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 –8/11/14, 10/13/14

AIS-1 – Automatic Identifications Systems Orientation: Contact Admissions

ARPA-OIC – Automated Radar Plotting Aids: 8/5/14, 9/23/14, 11/18/14

AZIPOD 2-Day –7/10/14, 10/9/14

BRM-35 – Bridge Resource Management: 8/25/14, 10/13/14

BRMP –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 7/24/14, 8/20/14, 9/22/14, 11/20/14

BRMP-EMR –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots with Emergency Shiphandling:  7/7/14, 10/6/14

BST – Basic Safety Training: 8/11/14, 10/6/14

CHS-OIC – Cargo Handling Basic: 10/27/14

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

ADVNAV-CMM – Advanced Navigation (=ECDIS & VPEN): 8/4/14, 11/10/14

ADVSTB-CMM – Advanced Stability: 6/23/14, 9/22/14

ADVWX-CMM – Advanced Meteorology: 6/16/14, 9/8/14

CHS-CMM – Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 7/7/14, 9/29/14

ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display Information System: 7/14/14, 8/4/14, 10/20/14, 11/10/14

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep, & Medications: 7/23/14, 11/19/14

MCL-CMM – Management, Communication, & Leadership (Management Level): 9/15/14

MPP-CMM – Marine Propulsion Plants:  7/21/14, 10/27/14

SHMGT-CMM- Ship Management (2 weeks): 8/18/14, 10/13/14

SHS-ADV-I-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 8/4/14, 9/8/14, 9/22/14, 10/20/14, 11/3/14, 12/1/14

SHS-ADV-I-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 6/16/14, 8/11/14, 9/15/14, 9/29/14, 10/27/14, 11/10/14, 12/8/14

TRAC-TUG-2: 7/21/14

VPEN-CMM – Voyage Planning & Electronic Navigation: 8/11/14, 11/17/14

WKP-CMM – Advanced Watchkeeping: 7/28/14, 11/3/14

CNAV-OIC – Celestial Navigation: 11/3/14

CONT PLNG – Contingency Planning Workshop: Contact Admissions

CRISIS-COMMS – Crisis Communications:  10/7/14

DDE – Great Lakes: Contact Admissions

DPA – Contact Admissions

ECDIS-OIC –9/8/14

ECDIS-Pilots – Contact Admissions

FF-BADV – Fire Fighting Combined Basic & Advanced: 8/11/14, 10/6/14

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep & Medications:  7/23/14, 11/19/14

GL Pilot – Great Lakes Pilotage Familiarization: Contact Admissions

GMDSS – Global Maritime Distress and Safety System: 8/18/14

HAZ – Hazardous Materials (5 day): 6/23/14, 9/15/14, 11/17/14

LAP- 9/8/14

LAP-Great Lakes – License Advancement Program – Great Lakes

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

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 7/8/14, 10/7/14, 11/20/14

LNG-TPIC – Contact Admissions

MCL-OIC –Management, Communications, and Leadership OICNW level: 9/5/14, 10/7/14

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge: 6/16/14, 9/8/14, 11/3/14, 12/1/14

MED-PIC-REF– Medical Person in Charge Refresher: 8/4/14, 10/13/14

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 6/16/14, 9/8/14, 10/20/14, 11/3/14, 12/1/14

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing: 6/21/14, 8/3/14, 9/13/14, 10/12/14, 11/8/14, 12/6/14

MSA –Maritime Security Awareness: 8/4/14 (PM), 10/6/14 (PM)

[MSC – Military Sealift Command Courses]

MSC-CBRD-1 – Military Sealift Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense Orientation (Basic): 8/22/14, 10/3/14

MSC-DC – Military Sealift Command Damage Control (4 Evenings): 8/18/14, 9/29/14

MSC-ENV –8/23/14

MSC-FF-HELO – 6/11/14

MSC-SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualification:  8/18/14, 9/29/14, 11/10/14

*MSC-Security Watch Basic –8/25/14, 11/14/14

*MSC-Security Watch Advanced –8/27/14, 11/17/14

*MSC-Ship’s Reaction Force –8/28/14, 11/18/14

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 8/4/14, 9/22/14, 11/17/14

ROR-1N – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 6/18/14, 7/9/14, 7/24/14, 8/6/14, 8/20/14, 9/10/14, 9/17/14, 10/1/14, 10/15/14, 10/29/14, 11/12/14, 12/3/14, 12/10/14

ROU-OIC – Radar Observer Program – Unlimited: 7/28/14, 11/10/14

SAR-OIC – Search & Rescue –10/13/14

SHS-BAS-OIC – Basic Shiphandling:  8/18/14, 11/17/14

SHS-EMR5 – Emergency Shiphandling-5 Day: 7/14/14, 10/6/14

SMS – Contact Admissions

STB-OIC – Ship Construction and Basic Stability: 8/4/14

TCNAV/CO – Terrestrial Navigation and Compasses: 7/7/14

TPIC – Tankerman Person in Charge:  8/25/14

TTT – Train the Trainer: Contact Admissions

VPDSD – Vessel Personnel with Designated Security Duties: 8/5/14, 10/7/14

VSO – Vessel Security Officer: 8/6/14, 9/2/14, 10/8/14, 10/22/14

WKP-OIC – Watchkeeping (Operational Level) : 9/29/14

WX-OIC –Meteorology (Operational Level): 9/15/14

…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.


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

June 2014

11-13     Vessel Security Officer
16-20     ECDIS

July 2014

7-11       Radar Observer Unlimited
7-18       GMDSS
14th       Radar Renewal
14th       Flashing Light
15-18     ARPA
21-25     Bridge Resource Management
28-1       ECDIS
28-1       Medical Care Provider

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. Suite B, Linthicum Heights, MD 21090-1953. Phone: 410-850-8700; Fax: 410-850-0973; Email: For further info or to subscribe contact Lisa Rosenthal at The Wheelhouse Weekly is sent via Email to MM&P-contracted vessels at sea and is posted on our web page.

© 2014, International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots. All the material contained in this publication is protected by copyright. For permission to reprint text from the Weekly, contact the MM&P Communications Department: For changes of address, contact Lisa Rosenthal at