Wheelhouse Weekly – June 18, 2013

June 18th 2013


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

Volume 17 . . . Number 25. . . June 18, 2013

(Look in the archives for this weeks Special Edition.)



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


The MM&P Houston Hall will be closed on Wednesday, June 19, for Texas Emancipation Day.


All participants in the Maritime Security Program (MSP) have submitted signed operating agreements that extend their commitment to the program through 2025, the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) has announced. “It was a challenge for most operators to make this substantial long-term commitment in vessels and intermodal logistics capability given the stress they are under due to shortfalls in FY13 funding, uncertainties of sequestration going forward, reduced government-impelled cargos, reduced rates and increasing cost differentials to remain under U.S.-flag,” said Acting MARAD Administrator Paul Jaenichen in a letter to the presidents of all the U.S. maritime unions.

“While this program will give [the Department of Defense] the significant sealift and global logistics capability it needs,” Jaenichen said, “MARAD’s focus and challenge will be ensuring MSP operators remain commercially viable in order for the fleet to survive and prosper through 2025.” 


The maritime unions, U.S.-flag shipping companies and supporters of the U.S.-flag fleet in Congress continue the fight to maintain the PL 480 Food for Peace Program in its current form. On June 12, a hearing to push for an overhaul of the program was held by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The chairman of the committee, Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), has introduced legislation that would turn Food for Peace into a voucher program in keeping with a proposal contained in the Obama Administration’s 2014 budget.

The U.S. Navy League, consistently a strong advocate for the Food for Peace Program, has contacted Royce to express its strong opposition to the plan. In a letter to Royce and the committee’s ranking Democrat, Elliot L. Engel, Navy League Executive Director Bruce K. Butler rebutted testimony from a witness at the hearing who said maritime cargo preference requirements “had outlived their usefulness.” The witness, former USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios, also implied that U.S.-flag shipping capability was not important in today’s world.

“The response confirms that Mr. Natsios is not an expert on maritime issues and national security, nor is he aware that U.S.-flag ships and U.S.-citizen mariners contributed overwhelmingly to the sealift support mission leading to and during military operations in Afghanistan and lraq during the very decade referenced in his response,” Butler wrote.

He pointed out that throughout history, the U.S. maritime industry has played a vital role in support of the nation’s military efforts, and that more than 90 percent of all cargoes bound to and from Afghanistan and Iraq were transported on U.S.-flag ships. “The unprecedented efficiency of the sealift effort was the product of planning and partnership by U.S. government agencies with U.S.-flag shipping companies and maritime labor,” Butler wrote.

“The Nation’s framework of maritime programs and policies should be viewed for their value as a means to grow and maintain a viable U.S.-flag merchant marine, but also for their cost effectiveness since they allow the Department of Defense to forego the need to spend billions of dollars building and maintaining equivalent assets,” Butler added.

The AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department (TTD) has also come out strongly in favor of maintaining Food for Peace in its current form. “For nearly 60 years, U.S. international food aid efforts have been a shining example of America at its best,” says TTD President Ed Wytkind, “a nation of plenty lending a helping hand to those in desperate need around the globe.”

But the program does more than just help those less fortunate abroad, Wytkind says. “Food Aid also keeps our maritime sector strong by hiring U.S. crews in our merchant marine to transport food from American farmers, which also benefits the U.S. agriculture industry. This is the same maritime sector that is relied upon by our military for support in times of war and international crisis.” Wytkind called the Food for Peace program “a strong reminder that it is possible to do well while doing good.”

He said “the false characterization of the U.S. merchant marine’s importance to our military and national security displayed at the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing reminds me of former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s frequent adage that, ‘everyone is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts.’”


The officers and crew of the MV HORIZON RELIANCE have been recognized once again for the heroic rescue of three people adrift in a sailboat that had lost all means of propulsion in a violent storm in February 2012. The most recent recognition came in the form of an IHS Safety at Sea Award presented in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard’s Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) program. HORIZON RELIANCE also recently received the Chamber of Shipping of America’s Citation of Merit.

The AMVER award recognizes a rescue that took place in a rough winter storm about 140 miles northeast of Hilo, Hawaii. HORIZON RELIANCE Master James Kelleher Jr. and his 28-person crew carried out the rescue at night, in extremely adverse conditions, with winds gusting 55 miles an hour and waves ranging 20-25 feet. Along with Capt. Kelleher, the MM&P members who participated in the rescue were Chief Mate Steven Itson, Second Mate Mark Lloyd and Third Mate Scott Phelps.

The Chamber of Shipping of America has also recognized the ship and its crew for a second rescue, carried out later in the year, of an elderly man who had suffered a stroke aboard a sailboat 1,100 miles off Oahu.


The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is soliciting feedback from the general public as part of an effort to eliminate “unnecessary, disproportionate or obsolete administrative burdens” on shipmasters. Comments are being collected on a web page,, until Oct. 31, 2013. In its request for feedback, the IMO said that “releasing resources from administrative tasks contributes to [our] goal of efficient regulation of safety and security of shipping and the prevention and control of pollution by ships.”

“There has long been a feeling in the industry that there is too much wasted paperwork,” said IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu. “This is the start of our efforts to tackle that problem. I would urge as many people as possible to take part in this consultation, as only with a strong set of data can we meaningfully identify where changes may be necessary.”

But although the goal of the project is commendable, its relevance will be severely compromised by the fact that the IMO is limiting its investigation to paperwork that derives directly from international Conventions. “The real problem,” says MM&P Pilots Group Vice President George Quick, “is operational paperwork generated by the regulatory compliance requirements imposed under those Conventions. By making that distinction, the IMO has gutted any real chance of reducing the ever-increasing paperwork burden placed on shipmasters.”


As part of the Federal Worker Alliance (FWA) Digital Campaign to End Furloughs of Department of Defense (DOD) civilian employees, FWA unions, including MM&P, are encouraging their members to use the FWA Furlough Message Board to tell their stories. 

The social media campaign is intended to address “the big picture.” How will furloughs at DOD affect your community? How will they affect national security and military readiness? How will they affect your family and neighbors?  The hope is to raise public awareness of the greater overarching impacts that DOD furloughs will have in hopes of eliminating the furloughs all together.  

The message board is very easy to use and there is no login required. The board can be accessed by clicking this link:

Members of the MM&P Federal Employees Membership Group (FEMG) are encouraged to access the FWA message board to describe their work and tell their stories.


Members of Japan’s railway unions marched in Tokyo last week to protest the lockout in Portland of members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). Members of Japan’s National Coordination Center of Labor Unions and a student federation also participated in the Tokyo protest.

The rally took place outside the headquarters of Marubeni, owner of Columbia Grain, which locked out members of ILWU Local 8 in May. The unions said their protest was also directed against two other Japanese companies: Mitsui, owner of United Grain, which locked out ILWU Local 4 members in Vancouver in February, and ITOCHU, a member of the cartel that owns EGT. Leaders of Doro-Chiba released a statement tying the grain companies’ lock-out of West Coast dockworkers to the push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. TPP is a huge expansion of NAFTA that would include the United States, Japan and many other Pacific Rim countries.


A guide for new members and applicants has been posted on . The online “Member Guidebook” includes answers to frequently asked questions about MM&P, the benefits of membership and how to join. It features: an overview of all MM&P membership groups; a description of the union’s governance process and hiring halls; a link to the MM&P Federal Credit Union; a description of the financial and other benefits offered to union members by the AFL-CIO’s Union Plus program; information about MM&P Benefit Plans; plus a description of the work carried out in Washington, D.C., on behalf of MM&P members by the union’s advocacy arm MIRAID. To access the online member guide, go to, click on About MM&P and then on Member/Applicant Guide.


The possibility of a strike against Patriot Coal Corp. loomed larger last week after talks between the company and the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) appeared to break off. The UMWA said Patriot’s representatives had abandoned negotiations on June 12. A spokesperson for the company said it had not actually left the bargaining table. The conflict played out against the backdrop of a May 29 court order approving the company’s request to make deep cuts in benefits for 23,000 union retirees and their dependents and to implement changes in the labor contract under which thousands of current employees work.

In a complex legal operation, Peabody Coal created Patriot in 2007 as a repository for its liabilities, including employee health care and pension costs. Patriot filed for bankruptcy in July 2012 and is now trying to end the conglomerate’s obligation to cover retiree health care and pensions. In tandem with the push to end health care benefits, Patriot filed a motion in bankruptcy court to pay $6 million to 120 senior executives and managers. In a third piece of the puzzle, another coal company, Arch, deposited its own retiree obligations into a spinoff called Magnum Coal, which was then purchased by the now-bankrupt Patriot. Senior managers regularly move back and forth among all the companies in the group. Peabody and Arch reported profits of $2.5 billion over the past three years.

The miners’ union has sued Peabody and Arch, claiming they deliberately set up Patriot to fail so pension and health care benefits could be shed. The U.S Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri has now ruled twice in favor of Patriot Coal in its effort to eliminate its collective bargaining agreements and get out of commitments made to retirees who worked for Patriot, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal.

The UMWA said the company is moving forward with the implementation of terms and conditions approved by the judge on May 29, which means that Patriot will end the health care program for more than 23,000 retirees, their dependents and surviving spouses. The old system will be replaced with a Voluntary Employee Benefit Association that only has guaranteed funding of $15 million, plus a royalty payment of 20 cents per ton of coal produced, which is projected to raise another $5 million a year. The UMWA also will be given a 35 percent ownership stake in Patriot Coal, which they can sell after the value of the company–now in bankruptcy—can be established by accountants. Current retiree health care costs are about $5 million a month. Patriot also will be able to deny all retiree health care benefits to 40 percent of currently active workers who have already worked enough years to earn those benefits.  The company also can reduce pay, benefits and paid time off for active workers.

UMWA President Cecil Roberts said in a statement that he “could not recommend to our membership that they work under those terms” and that union members would be asked to vote on whether or not to work under the conditions approved by the judge. In response, Patriot President and CEO Bennett Hatfield said a strike would “put the company on the path to liquidation,” which would be the “worst possible outcome for UMWA employees and retirees.”


Members of two of Turkey’s largest labor unions held a one-day strike on Monday, joining in demonstrations centered on Istanbul’s Taksim Square and Gezi Park. The strike followed a weekend in which police ended an 18-day sit-in at the park that had come to symbolize defiance against the government. Besides the demonstrations in Istanbul, journalists have reported on a stand-off in Ankara, where thousands of demonstrators waved union flags in front of riot police and a line of trucks. The rallies went on despite a warning from Turkey’s interior minister that participants in unlawful demonstrations would “bear the legal consequences.” After about three hours, the protesters in Ankara left peacefully.

Behind the strikes were the KESK confederation of public sector workers and DISK, a confederation of labor unions from industries including transport, construction, health care and media. Together they say they represent 330,000 workers. Small unions that include professionals like dentists, doctors and engineers also joined in.

Opposition forces in Turkey are protesting what they say is an erosion of freedoms and secular Turkish values under the Islamic government. Since the protests began three weeks ago, five people have died and more than 5,000 have been injured, according to a Turkish rights group. The labor walkout was the second since the protests began.


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.


NOTE:  New Dedicated Fax Line for Admissions Only:  Fax: 1-443-568-1928, all other MITAGS business should 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 Email: 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 AZIPOD (2-DAY) for Pilots: 7/22/13

BRM – Bridge Resource Management: 8/26/13 BRMP – Bridge Resource Management for Pilots:  8/19/13, 9/23/13

BST – Basic Safety Training: 6/24/13, 8/12/13

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

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

CMM-ADVWX – Advanced Meteorology: 6/17/13, 9/23/13

CMM-ADVNAV – Advanced Navigation (=ECDIS & VPEN): 9/16/13

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

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

CMM-ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display Information System: 6/17/13, 7/29/13, 9/9/13

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

CMM-SHMGT – Ship Management (2 weeks): 7/22/13

CMM-SHS-ADV-I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 6/24/13, 7/29/13, 9/9/13, 9/23/13

CMM-SHS-ADV-I I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 6/17/13, 8/5/13, 9/16/13, 9/30/13

CMM-WKP – Advanced Watchkeeping: 6/24/13, 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: 7/22/13, 8/12/13

GMDSS – Global Maritime Distress and Safety System: 7/8/13, 8/19/13 HAZ – Hazardous Materials (5 day): 6/24/13, 9/16/13

LAP – License Advancement Program for C/Mate & Master: 9/23/13 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): 6/7/13, 8/23/13, 10/4/13

ROR-1N – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 6/19/13, 6/26/13, 7/10/13, 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: 7/22/13, 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

TCNAV/CO – Terrestrial Navigation and Compasses: 7/8/13 TPIC – Tankerman Person in Charge:  8/26/13

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

… 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.


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

June 2013
24-28     Radar Observer Unlimited
24-28     Medical Care Provider

July 2013

8th         Radar Renewal
8th         Flashing Light Exam
9-12       ARPA
15-19     ECDIS
15-26     GMDSS
22-26     Bridge Resource Management w/ Simulation
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