Wheelhouse Weekly – Mar. 22, 2016

March 23rd 2016

Volume 21 . . . Number 12. . . March 22, 2016


Also in this issue:


Coast Guard Update:

News for MM&P Members:

Upcoming Events:

Other News:


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The importance to America’s military readiness of U.S. shipbuilding, the Maritime Security Program (MSP), cargo preference laws and the Jones Act were among a range of topics addressed by legislators and government witnesses last week at Congressional hearings on the maritime industry.

In March 15 testimony before the House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft underlined the importance to military readiness of U.S.-shipbuilding capacity and the Jones Act.

“If you take the Jones Act away,” he testified, “the first thing that goes away is the shipyards… Next are the mariners… If we don’t have a U.S. fleet, if we don’t have U.S. shipyards to constitute that fleet, as we look at how the United States prevailed in wars past, it began with our industrial base… I am concerned that a repeal of [the Jones Act] would cut at the heart of that industrial base.”

Also testifying was U.S. Maritime Administrator Chip Jaenichen, who estimated that upwards of 40 ships are now under construction in the United States.

“Without the Jones Act, those builds don’t happen,” he said, adding that shipbuilding in America is a $36 billion industry which supports 110,000 jobs.

At a second hearing the following day before the Readiness Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, Gen. Darren W. McDew, commander of U.S. Transportation Command, said the military depends on the U.S.-flag fleet to “deliver decisive force on behalf of the Nation.”

McDew said he is concerned by the shrinking number of U.S.-flag ships in the international trades and by the corresponding decline in the number of U.S.-citizen mariners available to crew them, adding that “to deliver decisive force, it takes a fully-fledged competent maritime fleet–and that’s what the Maritime Security Program provides us.”

During the course of the March 15 hearing, Ranking Subcommittee Member John Garamendi (Calif.) expressed disappointment that the Obama Administration continues to pursue “ill-advised” food aid reform and has neglected funding for Title XI loan guarantee shipbuilding. He questioned how the administration’s proposed changes to the food aid program would affect the U.S. Merchant Marine.

Jaenichen pointed out that the industry has suffered a 40 percent decrease in the amount of food aid cargo carried by ships since 2011 which, along with other factors such as the drastic reduction of DOD cargoes, has led to a reduction in the number of U.S.-flag ships in the international trades over the last five years from 106 to only 77 today. He estimated that six to 12 U.S.-flag vessels had been lost since the cargo preference level in the Food for Peace program was reduced to 50 percent from 75 percent.

Jaenichen said another four to six ships are now at risk, with each ship accounting for 40-50 mariner jobs. Further erosion in the size of the mariner pool will complicate the nation’s ability to fulfill DOD sealift requirements, he added.

“If we lose additional ships… from a mariner availability standpoint… today, I’d put us in the amber range. I probably have a delta of about four ships before I go to the red. I’m concerned about the number of mariners that are available to fully man the government reserve sealift fleet in a time of either conflict or in humanitarian crisis if we fully had to activate them.”

Subcommittee Chair Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) opened the March 15 hearing with a call to boost by $1 billion the Fiscal Year 2017 Coast Guard acquisitions budget.

The agency needs funding for its fast response cutter program, the new offshore patrol cutter and a new heavy polar icebreaker. The two existing USCG icebreakers are 40 years old, and one is out of service. For this reason, the U.S. has been forced to charter Russian icebreakers to resupply U.S. science stations in the Antarctic.

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For the third time in this Congress, a bipartisan coalition of members of the House of Representatives has gone on record in support of full funding for the Maritime Security Program (MSP) for fiscal year 2017.

Eighty-six Democrats and Republicans, led by Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), Garret Graves (R-La.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.), urged the House Committee on Appropriations to include $300 million for MSP in its FY ‘17 funding legislation.

Congress had authorized an increase in MSP funding to $300 million, or $5 million per ship, as part of the omnibus appropriations legislation that President Obama signed into law in December.

“Since 2009, privately owned U.S.-flag commercial vessels and their civilian U.S.-citizen crews have transported more than 90 percent of the sustainment cargo needed to support U.S. military operations and rebuilding programs in Iraq and Afghanistan,” members of the bipartisan coalition reminded their colleagues.

“U.S.-flag vessels enrolled in the Maritime Security Program carried 99 percent of these cargoes,” they added, “[and] without a viable U.S.-flag commercial fleet and the American merchant mariners this fleet supports, the United States would be unable to deploy its military forces on a global basis or deliver the supplies and equipment American troops need to do their job on behalf of the American people.”

“This expression of continued support for the Maritime Security Program is extremely helpful as we go forward in our efforts to fully fund MSP and keep these militarily useful vessels operating under the U.S. flag,” said MM&P President Don Marcus.

“Without this funding, and without the Maritime Security Program, our country will lose the commercial sealift capability and American mariners it needs to protect and support our troops around the world. We thank the members of Congress who have lent their names to this effort.”

MM&P and MIRAID will continue to work with others in our industry and our supporters in Congress to secure full funding for the Maritime Security Program.

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The Maritime Security Program (MSP) is one of the few examples of true bipartisanship to remain in Washington, D.C., according to the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department (TTD).

“When lawmakers are able to set aside their differences and work together, great things can happen,” the organization said in an official release to the press. “MSP is a perfect example of this.”

MM&P is a member of TTD, a coalition that represents millions of workers who belong to 32 U.S. transportation unions. The group is devoted to protecting middle-class jobs, expanding collective bargaining, and ensuring modern, safe, and secure transportation operations and infrastructure.

“For more than 20 years, the MSP has seen strong support from both Republicans and Democrats–and for good reason,” TTD says. “The program is critical to ensuring military readiness and national security, and transportation labor is dedicated to making sure it stays that way.”

Under the terms of MSP, the federal government provides a retainer to privately owned, militarily useful U.S. flag ships so they can carry cargo on behalf of the Department of Defense (DOD) in time of war or other national emergency.

The 60-ship MSP fleet currently supports nearly 7,700 U.S. mariner and shore-side jobs.
Without MSP, DOD would be forced to rely on foreign-flag ships that could lack the loyalty, readiness and capability to meet America’s needs.

In addition, independent analysts and DOD have found that replicating a logistics network comparable to that provided by MSP would cost U.S. taxpayers $63 billion.

The key to the program’s success–in addition to strong bipartisan support–is adequate funding. In recent years, costs associated with the shipping industry have gone up, but the stipend payment made to the MSP participants had remained flat–until last year. Congress recognized the problem and had the foresight to increase money for the program for FY ’16 and ’17.

But for reasons that have more to do with the timing of the budget process than with the Administration’s support for MSP, the FY ‘17 budget released by the Administration did not call for full funding for MSP. Instead it includes the previously authorized amount, rather than the increase approved by Congress.

As a result, MM&P, MIRAID, and the rest of the U.S.-flag maritime industry are mobilizing once again to ensure that the 60-ship maritime security fleet, and the U.S. jobs it supports, are adequately funded. TTD has been a strong partner in this effort.

“MSP is a model federal program that, for years, has efficiently leveraged taxpayer dollars to help meet the needs of our military, while simultaneously sustaining a vibrant U.S.-flag shipping industry,” the organization says.

In February, the TTD Executive Committee adopted a resolution asking lawmakers to ensure that MSP is funded line with the Congressional authorization.

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A group of international policy experts told an audience of journalists at the National Press Club yesterday that international tensions in the South China Sea will probably increase.

Among the participants was MM&P President Don Marcus, who spoke on the importance of the U.S.-flag fleet and American mariners to America’s sealift requirements, particularly in the context of heightened international tensions.

China has claimed large areas of the South China Sea, including the Spratly Islands, which are also claimed by the Philippines.

As a result, the Philippines have sued China under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Panelist Gregory Poling of the Center for Strategic and International Studies predicted the ruling will go against China, leading to heightened tensions in the area.

“The idea that one country can claim rights to areas 1,000 miles from its shore while everybody else is limited to 12 miles… is not sustainable,” Poling said.

Another panelist, Yann-huei Song of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies, agreed that the buildup on the islands will lead to more disputes. Increased Chinese air and sea activity in an area where U.S. forces are also active creates a dangerous situation, he said.

MM&P President Don Marcus told the audience that China’s decision to militarize the Spratly Islands and claim sovereignty over vast areas of the South China Sea has created a major challenge for other Pacific nations and for freedom of navigation.

In this context, he called attention to the steady decline in the size of the U.S.-flag fleet, which now numbers fewer than 100 vessels in the international trades. He said the issue takes on increased importance in light of China’s expansion in terms of number of ships, number of mariners and territorial ambitions.

“Few people realize that China does not need to launch a naval attack or conduct a blockade to harm us,” Marcus said. “The economic power of China’s huge merchant marine, which gives it the ability to control shipping rates and service, has the potential to wreak havoc on our economy.”

More on the situation is contained in a report posted on To read the report, CLICK HERE.

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The National Maritime Center (NMC) says it has been working with the Government Printing Office to “refresh” the Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) booklet.

The NMC will begin to issue the updated MMC when the supply of current booklets is exhausted, likely within the next week.

The agency says the new MMCs feature “an improved layout” with graphic images of historic lighthouses, the Eads Bridge, the Merchant Marine Emblem and a first-order Fresnel lens.
Additionally, the cover of the MMC has been stiffened for greater durability.

The agency says that all active credentials will remain valid until their printed expiration dates. There will be no change to endorsement labels that are issued as a result of an application for a raise of grade or increase in scope of a valid MMC.

For questions or feedback, contact the NMC by using its Online Chat or Ticketing system, by e-mail at, or by calling 1-888-IASKNMC (1-888-427-5662).

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MM&P is seeking masters and chief mates. If you are interested, please send your resume to MM&P Secretary-Treasurer Steve Werse (, Atlantic Ports Vice President Don Josberger ( or National Director of Collective Bargaining Lars Turner ( Tanker and general cargo experience is desired.

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All MM&P union halls, MM&P headquarters, the MM&P Plan Office and the MM&P Federal Credit Union will be closed on March 25 for Good Friday. All Pacific Ports halls with the exception of the Honolulu Hall will be closed on Thursday, March 31 for Cesar Chavez Day.

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On Sunday, May 22, the annual National Maritime Day Observance and Memorial Service will be held at the American Merchant Marine Veterans Memorial at Harbor Boulevard and 6th Street in San Pedro at 1000.

The service is hosted by the American Merchant Marine Veterans Memorial Committee honoring American Merchant Mariners who have served their country in peace and war since the American Revolution, when they acted as our first Navy.

Organizations wishing to send wreaths to be displayed during and after the services are requested to have them delivered to the Memorial site by 0900 on Sunday, May 22. Massey’s Florist on Western Avenue in Lomita (310-325-8222) has provided very good service and is the preferred florist of the committee.

National, state, and city officials have been invited to participate as speakers.

The committee is seeking sponsors to help this year by purchasing an advertisement in the program booklet.

A luncheon will be held immediately following the National Maritime Day Observance at the Ports O’Call Restaurant located at Berth 76 in Ports O’Call Village. A no host bar will open at 1100 hours, with lunch being served at approximately 1130 hours. Parking is available in Ports O’Call with transportation provided to and from the memorial service.

The committee cordially invites all sponsors and the general public to attend the National Maritime Day Observance and luncheon.

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The Offshore Orientation Course will be held in the San Francisco/Oakland hall on April 13-14. Interested applicants should sign up with the San Francisco/Oakland dispatcher: 415-777-5074(phone); 415-777-0209 (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.

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MT BRITISH FIDELITY, the last Australian-crewed fuel tanker, will be removed from Australia’s coastal trades on May 9.

In a letter to the crew, ship manager ASP said it “regrets the departure of the vessel and the possible need for redundancies to occur.”

The news comes on the back of last year’s letter of termination sent to the crew of MT BRITISH LOYALTY. Both vessels had been contracted by BP.

The events, said Maritime Union of Australia National Secretary Paddy Crumlin, are the direct result of the government’s campaign “to remove hardworking Australians who pay tax in this country and replace them with exploited foreign labor working on flag-of-convenience ships for as little as 2 US dollars an hour.”

Australia moves 99 percent of its freight by sea. “Shipping is an industry vital to Australia’s national interest, and of course we should have a strong coastal shipping fleet rather than deregulation and subsequent race to the bottom,” Crumlin said.

“We need to maintain the maritime skills base, as well as protect jobs, the environment and our national security,” he added.

“Fuel security is also a major threat–not just in terms of being left solely at the mercy of international markets but heaven forbid, should there be a refinery fire in Singapore or a terrorist attack on shipping lanes, Australia only has three weeks’ supply of petrol at its disposal.”

Since 1995, the number of Australian-flagged product tankers working the coast has been reduced from 11 to zero.

An additional source of anger for Australia’s maritime workforce: legislation pending in Parliament will require deeper background checks on Australians seeking identity cards allowing them to work in the nation’s ports and on ships, while at the same time the government continues to encourage shipping companies to register their vessels overseas and hire foreign mariners whose backgrounds are not subject to the same scrutiny.

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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 Elisabeth Cruz, 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 – 4/18/16, 8/22/16, 10/17/16

AIS-1 – Automatic Identifications Systems Orientation: 5/27/16, 7/22/16

ARPA-OIC – Automated Radar Plotting Aids: 4/5/16, 8/9/16, 9/27/16

AZIPOD 2-Day – 5/25/16, 11/14/16

BRM-35 – Bridge Resource Management: 4/4/16, 8/8/16, 10/31/16

BRMP –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 05/23/2016, 7/18/16, 11/14/16

BRMP-EMR –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots with Emergency Shiphandling: 04/13/16

BT – Basic Safety Training: 04/11/16, 06/27/16, 8/15/16, 10/10/16

BT-Revalidation – 05/10/16, 8/22/16, 10/31/16

CHS-OIC – Cargo Handling Basic: 4/25/16, 11/14/16

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

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

ADVSTB-CMM – Advanced Stability: 3/28/16, 06/20/16, 8/1/16, 10/17/16

ADVWX-CMM – Advanced Meteorology: 06/06/16, 8/8/16, 11/7/16

CHS-CMM – Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 04/04/16, 10/24/16

ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display Information System: 3/21/16, 06/13/16, 7/25/16, 8/15/16,9/12/16, 10/10/16, 11/28/16, 12/19/16

LMS – Leadership and Managerial Skills (Management Level – Formerly MCL-CMM) 3/28/16,4/4/16, 4/11/16, 5/16/16, 5/23/16, 6/27/16, 7/11/16, 7/25/16, 8/15/16,8/22/16, 9/12/16, 10/3/16,10/31/16, 11/14/16,11/28/16, 12/5/16, 12/12/16, 12/19/16

MPP-CMM – Marine Propulsion Plants: 05/02/16, 9/19/16

SEC-APPS – Practical Defense Tactics: 3/28/16, 6/20/16, 8/1/16, 10/31/16

SHMGT-CMM- Ship Management (2 weeks): 04/18/16, 10/3/16

SHS-ADV-I-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 04/18/16, 05/09/16, 06/13/16, 7/18/16,8/15/16, 9/12/16, 10/24/16, 11/7/16, 12/5/16

SHS-ADV-II-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 3/21/16, 04/25/16, 05/16/16, 06/20/16,7/25/16, 8/22/16, 9/19/16, 10/31/16, 11/14/16, 12/12/16

VPEN-CMM – Voyage Planning & Electronic Navigation: 9/12/16

WKP-CMM – Advanced Watchkeeping: 05/09/16, 9/26/16

CNAV-OIC – Celestial Navigation: 05/02/16, 10/24/16

CONT PLNG – Contingency Planning Workshop: Contact Admissions

CRISIS-COMMS – Crisis Communications: 7/19/16

DDE – Great Lakes: 6/6/16

DPA – Contact Admissions

ECDIS-OIC – Contact Admissions

ECDIS-Pilots – 05/25/16, 7/20/16, 11/14/16

ERM – Engine Resource Management: 3/21/16, 4/18/16, 5/9/16, 7/18/16, 8/22/16, 9/26/16, 10/24/16, 11/14/16, 11/28/16, 12/5/16, 12/12/16, 12/19/16

FF-BADV – Fire Fighting Combined Basic & Advanced: 04/11/16, 06/27/16, 8/15/16, 10/10/16

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep, & Medications: 04/19/16, 9/20/16

GL Pilot – Great Lakes Pilotage Familiarization: Contact Admissions

GMDSS – Global Maritime Distress and Safety System: 8/22/16

HAZ – Hazardous Materials (5 day): 6/27/16, 8/29/16, 12/5/16

LAP- 4/4/16, 9/19/16

LAP-Great Lakes – License Advancement Program – Great Lakes: Contact Admissions

LAP-ORG3rd – License Advancement Program for Original 3rd Mate, Oceans, Any Gross
Ton License: 06/06/16, 8/8/16, 12/5/16

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 4/20/16, 5/23/16, 7/19/16, 9/21/16, 11/15/16

LNG-TPIC – 12/5/16

LTS –Leadership and Teamworking Skills (Formerly MCL-OIC): 4/4/16, 4/28/16, 7/12/16, 9/26/16, 10/26/16*, 11/14/16*, 12/19/16* (*Evening Session)

MEECE – Management of Electrical and Electronic Control: 3/28/16, 4/25/16, 5/16/16, 7/11/16, 8/29/16, 9/19/16, 10/17/16, 11/7/16, 11/28/16, 12/5/16, 12/12/16, 12/19/16

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge: 3/21/16, 05/16/16, 7/11/16, 11/7/16, 12/12/16

MED-PIC-REF– Medical Person in Charge Refresher: 05/02/16, 8/29/16, 10/3/16

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 3/21/16, 05/16/16, 11/7/16, 11/28/16, 12/12/16

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing: 3/19/16, 05/14/16, 8/28/16, 11/12/16, 12/17/16

MSA –Maritime Security Awareness: Contact Admissions

[MSC – Military Sealift Command Courses]

MSC-CBRD-1 – Military Sealift Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense Orientation (Basic): 6/10/16, 8/10/16, 10/17/16

MSC-DC – Military Sealift Command Damage Control: 6/8/16, 8/8/16, 10/18/16

*MSC-ENVPRO – 6/5/16, 8/7/16, 10/16/16

*MSC-FF-HELO – 6/6/16, 8/22/16, 10/31/16

MSC-SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualification: 6/13/16, 8/14/16, 10/23/16

*MSC-Security Watch Basic – 6/11/16, 8/11/16, 10/20/16

*MSC-Security Watch Advanced – 6/17/16, 8/13/16, 10/22/16

*MSC-Ship’s Reaction Force – 6/18/16, 8/18/16, 10/27/16

NSAP-MMP – Navigational Skills Assessment Program-MM&P – 5/23/16, 7/26/16, 10/25/16

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 5/9/16

ROR-1N – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 3/29/16, 04/06/16, 4/13/16, 04/20/16, 05/04/16, 05/18/16, 06/08/16, 06/22/16, 7/13/16, 7/27/16, 8/10/16, 8/24/16, 9/21/16, 10/5/16, 10/19/16, 11/2/16, 11/9/16, 11/16/16, 11/30/16, 12/7/16, 12/14/16

ROU-OIC – Radar Observer Program – Unlimited: 8/1/16

SAR-OIC – Search & Rescue – 04/18/16, 11/7/16

SHS-BAS-OIC – Basic Shiphandling: 04/11/16, 06/27/16, 8/29/16, 10/17/16

SHS-EMR5 – Emergency Shiphandling-5 Day: 05/02/16, 8/1/16, 10/3/16, 11/28/16

SMS – Contact Admissions

STB-OIC – Ship Construction and Basic Stability: 8/8/16

TCNAV/CO – Terrestrial Navigation and Compasses: 7/11/16

TPIC – Tankerman Person in Charge: 8/8/16

TRAC-TUG-2: Contact Admissions

TTT – Contact Admissions

VPDSD – Vessel Personnel with Designated Security Duties: Contact Admissions

VSO – Vessel Security Officer: 04/25/16, 7/13/16, 9/7/16, 10/22/16

WKP-OIC – Watchkeeping (Operational Level): 3/21/16, 10/3/16

WX-OIC –Meteorology (Operational Level): 9/19/16

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

March 2016

28-8 Celestial Navigation
30-31 Leadership for Shoreside Managers

April 2016

4-8 Leadership & Managerial Skills (waitlist only)
4-8 Engine Resource Management (waitlist only)
11th Radar Renewal
11-22 GMDSS
18-22 Leadership & Managerial Skills (waitlist only)
18-22 Medical Care Provider
18-22 MEECE (waitlist only)
25-29 ECDIS
27-29 Bridge Resource Management & Emergency Shiphandling for Pilots

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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