Wheelhouse Weekly – Mar. 31, 2015

April 1st 2015

Volume 19 . . . Number 13 . . . March 31, 2015


In this issue:


News for Union Members:

Job Opportunities:


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


The MM&P Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle union halls will be closed on March 31 for Cesar Chavez Day. The MM&P Plan Office, the MM&P Federal Credit Union, MM&P headquarters, and all MM&P union halls will be closed on April 3 for Good Friday.

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The expert opinion of a doctor who has actually examined the patient must be given great weight in deciding whether to grant a medication waiver, MM&P says. The union made the assertion in response to a Coast Guard request for feedback on “criteria for granting waivers for certain medications and on suggestions for risk evaluation.”

The agency asked what factors it should consider in determining whether to grant a waiver to mariners whose conditions require them to use a potentially impairing medication. “Whether medications can affect the performance of mariners is dependent on the actual side effects experienced by that individual,” the union said in its comments, adding that most medications are required by law to carry a long list of potential side effects “that may in many cases only affect a very small number of individuals.”

MM&P said there should not be a presumption that medications are having an adverse effect on an individual mariner’s performance, and that the Coast Guard should always defer to the opinion of an examining physician. “Trying to reduce this issue to a one-size-fits-all formula to fit a desired mathematical regulatory standard in order to simplify the task of the regulator ignores the fact that each human is unique and can respond differently to medications,” said MM&P President Don Marcus.

In response to a second question on how to “objectively evaluate” whether or not an individual is free of any impairing medication effects, the union responded that “a mix of objective criteria and subjective analysis based on professional training and experience are needed to arrive at a reasoned opinion… That determination should be made by the examining physician and not by the Coast Guard medical evaluators who have not seen or examined the mariner.”

The union said that as a rule, a physician’s opinion that a mariner has no medication impairment should be given deference in the waiver process. “Physicians are licensed professionals legally responsible for the consequences of their professional opinions or actions,” MM&P said in its comments. The union has long advocated for a national system of qualified medical examiners knowledgeable about the duties and responsibilities of mariners and authorized to issue medical certificates. “In the absence of such a system, the examining physician is better qualified to evaluate the medical condition of a mariner than medical evaluators at NMC who have not seen or examined the mariner.”

In response to a question on whether formal neuropsychological/neurocognitive evaluation should be required of all mariners who may regularly need to take potentially impairing medications, the union responded that the question was “a variation of the first question regarding the effect of medications on performance.”

“Individuals have different responses to medications,” the union said. “Requiring neuropsychological/neurocognitive evaluation of all mariners who take medications with only the potential for side effects would be an expensive and gross over-response to what is in most cases a non-problem.”

“Medical evaluation is not a precise science,” says MM&P Pilots Group Vice President George Quick, who has worked on such issues for years. “Arriving at a reasonable opinion on medical fitness for duty is a combination of objective criteria and subjective analysis based on professional experience and judgment. What tests are needed or appropriate in the evaluation process should be determined by the examining physician.”

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The Coast Guard has issued a notice regarding the regulatory changes that require additional training and/or assessments for certain Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW) endorsements. These “gap-closing” requirements became effective on March 24, 2014. They must be met by mariners who hold STCW endorsements issued under the previous regulatory requirements. Mariners who submit applications without evidence of meeting gap-closing may have their STCW endorsements limited to “Not valid after 31 Dec 2016.” STCW gap-closing requirements do not affect limitation or retention of national endorsements.

The National Maritime Center (NMC) says it will process complete applications submitted on or before Dec. 31, 2016, without gap-closing requirements for the STCW endorsement, in the following manner: renewals, raises of grade, new endorsements and duplicates for which the MMC expires before Dec. 31, 2016, will be processed as “limited to/not valid after Dec. 31, 2016.” The NMC will not issue the STCW endorsement on applications without gap-closing requirements submitted after Dec. 31, 2016. For more detailed information, go to and click on “STCW Gap-Closing Requirements.”

The STCW endorsements with gap-closing requirements for deck officers are listed below. Requirements for these endorsements are contained in 46 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 11, Subpart C. Leadership and Teamwork Skills can be satisfied through demonstration of competence either onboard ship or in approved training.

Management Level (Master, Chief Mate – II/2, II/3): Leadership and Managerial Skills; ECDIS (to be valid on vessels equipped with ECDIS).

Operational Level (OICNW – II/1, II/3): Leadership and Teamwork Skills; ECDIS (to be valid on vessels equipped with ECDIS).

Operational Level (OICEW – III/1): Emergency Resource Management (ERM); Leadership and Teamwork Skills.

The agency says that mariners who have STCW endorsements removed or date-limited because gap-closing requirements were not completed may have those STCW endorsements restored or the date removed at any time by submitting a new application with evidence of meeting all gap-closing requirements. For questions, contact the NMC at 1-888-IASKNMC (427-5662) or

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International Longshore and Warehouse Union delegates yesterday began meeting in San Francisco to review the terms of the five-year ILWU-Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) contract that was tentatively agreed to on Feb. 20. The 90-person caucus is expected to meet for five days. Delegates will decide whether to recommend the proposal to the rank-and-file. If they approve it, the complete agreement will be mailed to members who will then have the opportunity to discuss it at local union meetings. The process ends with a secret-ballot election.

According to a statement on the ILWU website, key issues in the negotiations were the agreement to maintain health benefits for workers, families and pensioners; problems caused by PMA companies that sub-contract their container chassis pools, causing shortages and logistical problems; use of massive new container vessels without proper planning; the combination of containers from several carriers onto one “alliance” vessel; failing to pay port truckers a living wage, causing driver shortages; failing to properly plan for record volumes of containers; and failing to train enough dockworkers to operate equipment.

“This was the longest contract negotiation we’ve faced in decades,” said ILWU International President Bob McEllrath, “but the final result is a good agreement that wouldn’t have been possible without the unity and support of members up and down the coast.” He said the entire organization had “maintained exceptional discipline and unity during the negotiating process… The efforts of local leaders, rank-and-file members and our Negotiating Committee were all pulling in the same direction for the same goal,” said McEllrath. “That kind of unity is the only way for workers to win.”

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MM&P Pilot Group member John Traut photographed an accident in the Port of Baltimore which illustrates in dramatic terms the dangers of docking and undocking operations. He photographed the scene after a linehandler’s truck was pulled off the pier by the offshore headlines of the MSC ILONA as it departed on the evening of March 21. The linehandler leapt from the truck at the last moment. He had used his truck hitch to pull the eye of the mooring line away from the bollard so it could be let go. But the ship’s crew heaved away without observing that the truck was still attached. “This incident may be a useful reminder of the extreme need for watchfulness in berthing and unberthing operations,” Traut says. In the process of bailing out of his truck, the lineman reportedly suffered minor injuries to his leg.

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The 80,000 seafarers who work on the Black Sea risk their lives daily on dangerous, aging ships. An affiliate of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has exposed the appalling conditions they face in a documentary entitled “Dark Side of the Black Sea.” The film includes scenes of seafarers clad in rags grilling tiny fish for food on the deck of a decrepit tanker. Unseaworthy vessels, lack of fresh water, filthy living quarters and unpaid wages are among the issues the film exposes.

“The fact that seafarers in this region are risking their lives to make a living isn’t just a trade union issue, it’s a human rights issue,” says Ural Cagirici of the Turkish Marine Employees Solidarity Association (DAD-DER), which helped produce the film. “Seafarers here aren’t getting the protection they need, and that’s something we want to change.” Labor unions in the region are hoping the documentary will bring the situation to the attention of a wide audience. The film is dedicated to seafarers who have lost their lives at sea.

The majority of the men who crew ships on the Black Sea come from Russia, the Ukraine and Turkey. Others come from Georgia, Azerbaijan and Syria. Of the Black Sea littoral states, only Russia and Bulgaria have ratified the International Labor Organization’s Maritime Labor Convention (MLC). A spokesperson for the ITF says none of the states in the region fulfill their obligations to any of the international conventions they have signed, including SOLAS and STCW, either as port states or as seafarers’ countries of residence. The ITF says its priorities in the region are education; ratification of the MLC by Black Sea states; and organizing. To view the documentary, go to:

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MM&P Atlantic Ports Vice President Don Josberger has scheduled a membership meeting at the Norfolk Hall on Thursday, April 16 at 1000. MM&P President Don Marcus and Secretary-Treasurer Steve Werse will participate in the meeting. All members in the area are encouraged to attend.

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Union members who tend to carry a balance on their credit cards should consider switching to Union Plus: along with a low introductory rate of interest for the first 15 months, the Union Plus Rate Advantage Credit Card offers competitive rates on an ongoing basis. The benefits associated with the card are specifically designed for union members: three months after receiving the card, Union Plus card holders may be eligible for “hardship grants” in case of disability, hospitalization, job loss or strike. All grants approved for eligible cardholders are paid by check. Since the benefit is in the form of a grant, the member who receives it never has to pay it back. Additional savings: Union Plus Credit Card cardholders can save up to $250 by using their credit card to purchase a new smartphone and switching to AT&T from another provider with the Union Plus AT&T 15 percent wireless discount.

To find out more and to sign up for the card, go to and click on the “Money and Insurance” tab at the top of the page.

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The U.S. Postal Service has changed the mailing address for the MM&P San Juan Hall to: Masters, Mates & Pilots, 1055 Ave. Kennedy, Suite 201, San Juan, PR 00920. Please use the new address for mail correspondence; the hall itself has not moved.

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The Coast Guard seeks a marine investigator to be based in New Orleans. The deadline to apply is April 5. The incumbent will perform marine incident investigations of reportable marine casualties involving vessels and facilities where the findings are shared with the public and other government entities and are used to develop new standards to help prevent future accidents. He or she travels nationally and internationally to assist with investigations. Typical assignments include: assisting and advising field units in conducting investigations; participating in and/or leading investigations; participating in standing and ad hoc committees; auditing other Coast Guard units in relation to the performance of control verification examinations and compliance; maintaining course training curriculum. Relocation/moving expenses to New Orleans will be paid in accordance with appropriate regulations.

Duties principally involve work in an office but during casualty response, the incumbent may be required to climb vertical ladders, enter confined spaces, walk for long periods of time in a stooped position and work at considerable heights. The annual salary is $70,192 to $91,255. To find out more, go to

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The St. Lawrence Seaway Pilots Association is accepting applications for current and future openings for applicant/trainee pilots. The association’s area of operation is District 1, consisting of the St. Lawrence River from Massena, NY to Cape Vincent, NY and Lake Ontario. For the training period the salary ranges from $1,000 to $6,000 per month. For more information, write or email: St. Lawrence Seaway Pilots Assoc., PO Box 274 Cape Vincent, NY 13618; slspa.sec@gmail.comTwenty-four months licensed sea service (Master, Mate or Pilot) on vessels of at least 4,000 gross tons. Complete qualification requirements can be found in CFR 46, subpart b, sections 401.210 and 401.211.
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The State University of New York Maritime College is looking for watch officers, day workers and instructors for this year’s summer training cruise aboard the TS EMPIRE STATE. Positions are available for both deck and engineering. There are also opportunities available for stewards and support staff (librarian, yeoman and qualified members of deck and engineering departments). Employment on the summer training cruise offers an opportunity to assist with the at-sea, practical training of the mariners of tomorrow, as well as to participate in a great itinerary.

Salary is commensurate with licensure, certification and experience. MM&P has a labor referral agreement with SUNY. It allows active members to extend their MM&P medical coverage and MITAGS training benefits. MM&P pensioners are allowed employment for the summer sea term under our Pension Plan Rules.

The overall training sea term will begin May 4 and end Aug. 12. You may apply and be considered for one of the following options: Cruise A (anticipated May 4-June 24); Cruise B (anticipated June 24-Aug. 12); Full Cruise (May 4-Aug. 12). Naval orders can be issued for MMR Officers. Requirements: senior licenses preferred, and recent sea experience required along with medical clearances.

If you are interested, go to

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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 – 4/13/15, 8/17/15, 10/12/15

AIS-1 – Automatic Identifications Systems Orientation: 6/19/15, 7/13/15

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

AZIPOD 2-Day – 4/6/15, 10/1/15

BRM-35 – Bridge Resource Management: 5/18/15, 8/3/15, 10/19/15

BRMP –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 4/13/15, 6/17/15, 7/16/15, 11/9/15

BRMP-EMR –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots with Emergency Shiphandling: 4/8/15, 9/28/15

BT – Basic Safety Training: 4/6/15, 6/8/15, 8/10/15, 10/5/15

BT-Revalidation –8/4/15, 11/3/15

CHS-OIC – Cargo Handling Basic: 4/13/15, 10/26/15

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

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

ADVSTB-CMM – Advanced Stability: 4/20/15, 6/15/15, 7/27/15, 9/28/15

ADVWX-CMM – Advanced Meteorology: 4/13/15, 6/1/15, 8/3/15, 10/19/15

CHS-CMM – Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 4/27/15, 10/5/15

ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display Information System: 4/6/15, 6/8/15, 8/17/15, 11/2/15, 12/7/15

LMS – Leadership and Managerial Skills (Management Level – Formerly MCL-CMM): 4/20/15, 5/11/15, 6/22/15, 7/13/15,8/10/15, 8/31/15, 9/28/15, 10/26/15, 11/16/15, 11/30/15

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

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

SHS-ADV-I-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 4/13/15, 5/4/15, 6/1/15, 7/13/15, 8/10/15, 8/24/15, 10/5/15, 11/9/15,11/30/15

SHS-ADV-II-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 4/6/15, 4/20/15, 5/11/15, 6/8/15, 7/20/15, 8/17/15, 8/31/15, 10/12/15,11/16/15, 12/7/15

VPEN-CMM – Voyage Planning & Electronic Navigation: Contact Admissions

WKP-CMM – Advanced Watchkeeping: 5/11/15, 11/9/15

CNAV-OIC – Celestial Navigation: 4/27/15, 11/9/15

CONT PLNG – Contingency Planning Workshop: Contact Admissions

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

DDE – Great Lakes: 5/27/15

DPA – Contact Admissions

ECDIS-OIC – Contact Admissions

ECDIS-Pilots – 6/15/15, 7/14/15, 11/12/15

ERM – Engine Resource Management: 5/4/15, 6/15/15, 7/20/15, 8/24/15, 9/21/15, 10/19/15, 11/9/15, 12/14/15

FF-BADV – Fire Fighting Combined Basic & Advanced: 4/6/15, 6/8/15, 8/10/15, 10/5/15

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep, & Medications: 4/14/15, 7/6/15, 9/15/15, 11/11/15

GL Pilot – Great Lakes Pilotage Familiarization: Contact Admissions

GMDSS – Global Maritime Distress and Safety System: 8/24/15

HAZ – Hazardous Materials (5 day): 6/22/15, 8/31/15, 11/16/15

LAP- 4/6/15, 9/14/15

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

LAP-ORG3rd – License Advancement Program for Original 3rd Mate, Oceans, Any Gross
Ton License: 6/1/15, 8/3/15, 11/30/15

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 4/15/15, 6/17/15, 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: 4/27/15, 6/8/15, 7/6/15, 8/17/15, 9/14/15, 10/12/15, 11/2/15, 12/7/15

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge: 4/20/15, 6/15/15, 8/24/15, 12/7/15

MED-PIC-REF– Medical Person in Charge Refresher: 5/11/15, 7/27/15, 9/28/15

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 4/20/15, 6/15/15, 8/24/15, 10/12/15, 12/7/15

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing: 4/25/15, 6/20/15, 7/25/15, 8/28/15, 11/5/15, 12/12/15

MSA –Maritime Security Awareness: Contact Admissions

[MSC – Military Sealift Command Courses]

MSC-CBRD-1 – Military Sealift Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense Orientation (Basic): 6/5/15, 8/19/15, 10/29/15

MSC-DC – Military Sealift Command Damage Control (4 Evenings): 6/2/15, 8/17/15, 10/27/15

*MSC-ENVPRO – 6/6/15, 8/16/15, 10/31/15

*MSC-FF-HELO – 6/9/15, 8/3/15, 11/2/15

MSC-SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualification: 5/26/15, 8/8/15, 10/19/15

*MSC-Security Watch Basic – 5/30/15, 8/6/15, 10/17/15

*MSC-Security Watch Advanced –6/1/15, 8/12/15, 10/23/15

*MSC-Ship’s Reaction Force – 6/2/15, 8/13/15, 10/24/15

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

ROR-1N – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 4/1/15, 4/15/15, 4/29/15, 5/6/15, 5/13/15, 6/3/15, 6/10/15, 6/17/15, 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

ROU-OIC – Radar Observer Program – Unlimited: 6/1/15, 7/27/15

SAR-OIC – Search & Rescue – 4/6/15, 10/19/15

SHS-BAS-OIC – Basic Shiphandling: 5/11/15, 6/22/15, 11/2/15

SHS-EMR5 – Emergency Shiphandling-5 Day: 4/27/15, 7/27/15, 9/28/15

SMS – Contact Admissions

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

TCNAV/CO – Terrestrial Navigation and Compasses: 7/6/15

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

TRAC-TUG-2: Contact Admissions

TTT – Contact Admissions

VPDSD – Vessel Personnel with Designated Security Duties: 5/21/15

VSO – Vessel Security Officer: 4/18/15, 5/18/15, 7/22/15, 9/9/15, 10/7/15, 10/17/15

WKP-OIC – Watchkeeping (Operational Level): 9/28/15

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

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

April 2015

6th Radar Renewal
6-10 Leadership and Managerial Skills
13-17 Leadership and Managerial Skills
13-17 Medical Care Provider
13-17 Basic Shiphandling
13-24 GMDSS
20-24 Leadership and Managerial Skills
27-29 Security – Vessel, Company, and Facility
27-1 Bridge Resource Management

May 2015

4-8 Train the Trainer
4-8 Leadership and Managerial Skills
4-15 GMDSS
11-15 Leadership and Managerial Skills
11-15 Medical Care Provider
18-22 Leadership and Managerial Skills
26th Radar Renewal
27-29 Bridge Resource Management and Emergency Shiphandling for Pilots

June 2015

1-3 Security – Vessel, Company, and Facility
1-5 Medical Care Provider
1-12 Medical Person-In-Charge
8-12 Leadership and Managerial Skills
15-19 ECDIS
15-19 Tankerman Person-In-Charge
22-26 Leadership and Managerial Skills
22-26 Basic Meteorology
29-3 Leadership and Managerial Skills

July 2015

6-24 Terrestrial and Coastal Navigation
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 new subscriptions or address changes, send an e-mail to Back issues of The Weekly are posted on