Wheelhouse Weekly – March 04, 2014

March 4th 2014


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

Volume 18 . . . Number 9 . . . March 4, 2014


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


MM&P Atlantic Ports union halls and MM&P headquarters will be closed on Monday, March 17 for Gleason’s Birthday, a longshore holiday. The MM&P San Juan Hall will be closed on Monday, March 24 for Puerto Rico Emancipation Day.


Ice up to four feet thick now covers over 80 percent of the Great Lakes, doubling and even tripling transit times for the Great Lakes fleet. “It hasn’t been this severe since the winter of 1993-94,” says Grand River Navigation’s President Mark Rohn. “Many companies are unable to make deliveries, or if they are, a two-day delivery can end up taking seven days. It’s going to be a tough fit-out this spring.”

“Winter came early and in full force,” says Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA), which represents U.S.-flag vessel operators on the Great Lakes. The U.S. Coast Guard began breaking ice last year on Dec. 6, the earliest date on record. In a telephone interview, Nekvasil said that the iron ore trade was down 21 percent for December, dashing operators’ hopes of finishing 2013 in positive territory. The situation worsened in January, when the iron ore trade was down 37 percent.

“It’s been a brutal winter,” he says, with channels, harbors and ports, as well as loading dock equipment frozen up. Nekvasil says that one LCA member company trying to load iron ore in Cleveland took four days to get enough coal to make the trip worthwhile. “There was one clump of coal and ice the size of a Steinway piano,” he reports.

Given the dramatic conditions, the industry is depending on Coast Guard ice breakers to play a bigger role than usual this spring. The U.S. Coast Guard fleet stands at nine ice breakers. Canada’s fleet has been downsized from seven vessels to two, following the retirement of some older vessels. “We are asking Canada to reassess its commitment to ice-breaking,” Nekvasil says, adding that “Canada charges a user fee, while the U.S. does most of the ice-breaking.”

The industry expects that when the Soo Locks open on March 23, Coast Guard ice breakers may have to lead a convoy of lakers out of Duluth, as happened in 1994, a year when the USCG was still breaking ice in the St. Mary’s River on May 18.

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.


In an interview with Baltimore radio station WBAL-AM, MM&P member and long-time shipmaster Jim Staples spoke of the well-publicized problems that have recently plagued cruise line passengers, as well as of the risk of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and the waters off Somalia. Staples told journalist Mary Beth Marsden in an interview broadcast Feb. 27 that armed guards on ships, increased naval presence and international cooperation have driven Somali and world-wide piracy to a six-year low. But he pointed out that piracy is on the rise in the Gulf of Guinea and the straits of Malacca/Indonesia.

Staples, an expert on maritime security, also spoke of the recent spate of well-publicized incidents that have plagued the cruise ship industry. “The cruise lines have been fraught with multiple mishaps caused by human error and poor command decisions,” he said. These include “sinkings, as in the case of the COSTA CONCORDIA, fires, breakdowns, and malfunctioning electrical and sanitary systems.” Staples said that cruise ship operators that serve the U.S. market register their ships under flags-of-convenience to avoid paying U.S. income taxes. The interview was broadcast to the large radio audience tuned in for the first game of the Baltimore Orioles’ spring season in Sarasota, Fla., in a match-up with the Toronto Blue Jays.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will offer electronic charts layered with multi-faceted information free of charge in PDF format. The free charts are part of a suite of new and enhanced navigational products designed to make NOAA’s data more accessible to the general public. The agency said the digital images of traditional nautical charts “are especially valued by recreational boaters who use them to plan sailing routes and fishing trips…. Our aim is to get charts into the hands of as many boaters as we can,” says Rear Adm. Gerd Glang, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. “Within about 90 days of the product’s beta release, nearly 2.3 million charts were downloaded. To us, that represents more than two million opportunities to avoid an accident at sea.”

To help boaters who aren’t sure which chart they need, NOAA has launched a new interactive chart locator that allows people to select a chart from a map of the United States and choose their format. Whether downloading one of the new PDF nautical charts, selecting a chart to order from a “print-on-demand” vendor, or finding an electronic chart, the agency says the interactive catalog presents “a highly integrated suite of navigation products.” NOAA is also making available free the NOAA ENC Online, a new web map viewing application that shows chart data previously only available to users who purchased specialized viewing systems.

The agency also says that starting April 3, digital chart image resolution will increase from 254 dots per inch (DPI) to 400 DPI. This will improve the image quality and legibility of the raster navigational charts (NOAA RNC) that are used in chart display systems.

Last year, NOAA announced the privatization of chart printing and distribution, with NOAA-certified vendors providing improved paper “print-on-demand” charts that fulfill a vessel’s requirement to carry a navigational chart published by the National Ocean Service in accordance with federal regulations.

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey is the nation’s nautical chartmaker. It updates charts, surveys the coastal seafloor, responds to maritime emergencies and searches for underwater obstructions that pose a danger to navigation.

Find out more at


MM&P is protesting the Indian government’s treatment of the 35 crewmembers and security guards aboard the SEAMAN GUARD OHIO, which was seized on Oct. 12 of last year. The ship is used by U.S.-based maritime security firm AdvanFort International as an accommodation platform for counter-piracy guards between transits on commercial vessels traveling through the designated high risk area in the Indian Ocean.

Dudinik Valentyn, master of the SEAMAN GUARD, says he was tricked into leaving international waters by Indian Coast Guard officials who told him the ship was in the path of a cyclone. Once inside India’s territorial waters, the vessel was seized for having weapons on board without the required documents. According to the company that operates the vessel, when it entered port, 25 officials from eight different law enforcement agencies converged on it and detained the crew and security guards, seizing 35 automatic weapons and almost 6,000 rounds of ammunition.

The detainees are being held in a Chennai prison, where they say they are subjected to inhumane conditions, including lack of medical treatment, bathing facilities and food. They have been denied bail three times by a local court, but have just filed a new application which they hope will be heard later this month.


The U.S. Coast Guard issued a notice stating that it has promulgated nine Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circulars (NVICs) aimed at aligning Coast Guard policy with recent amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention) and related matters.  The NVICs come into effect immediately.  They include: guidance on the issuance of medical certificates; grandfathering and transitional provisions for merchant mariner credentials; guidelines for approval of training courses and programs; guidelines for qualification for STCW endorsements for proficiency in fast rescue boats; guidelines for qualification for STCW endorsements for proficiency in survival craft and rescue boats other than fast rescue boats; guidelines for qualification for STCW endorsements as rating forming part of a navigational watch; guidelines for qualification for STCW endorsements as rating forming part of an engineering watch; guidelines for qualification for STCW endorsements in basic training (formerly basic safety training); and guidelines for qualification for STCW endorsements for advanced firefighting.


There will be an Offshore Membership Division meeting in the Honolulu Hall on Wednesday, March 5, directly after 10:00 job call. All members in the area are urged to attend.


MM&P Atlantic Ports Vice President Don Josberger and Secretary-Treasurer Steve Werse will hold a membership meeting at the New York/New Jersey Hall on Tuesday, March 11 at 11:00 a.m. All members in the area are encouraged to attend the meeting.


The Union Plus Propane Discount program helps union members reduce the total cost of propane through a partnership with Get up to four free quotes on propane from local pre-screened and approved propane suppliers: you could save $300-$400 annually on propane and service. In addition, union members enjoy these benefits: $50 of free propane when you sign up with a approved supplier; a $100 certificate good toward a new propane tank purchased from an approved supplier; premium membership available in limited areas with pre-negotiated pricing on propane as well as no tank, delivery or low-usage fees; free online and telephone support from the team. To learn more visit


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 Los Angeles/Long Beach on March 12-13 and 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 – 3/24/14, 8/11/14, 10/13/14

AIS-1 – Automatic Identifications Systems Orientation: 5/6/14

ARPA-OIC – Automated Radar Plotting Aids: 4/1/14, 8/5/14, 9/23/14, 11/18/14

AZIPOD 2-Day – 5/7/14, 5/19/14, 7/10/14, 10/9/14

BRM-35 – Bridge Resource Management: 3/24/14, 6/2/14, 8/25/14, 10/13/14

BRMP –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 4/14/14, 5/22/14, 8/20/14, 9/22/14, 11/20/14

BRMP-EMR –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots with Emergency Shiphandling:  4/29/14, 7/7/14, 10/6/14

BST – Basic Safety Training: 4/7/14, 6/9/14, 8/11/14, 10/6/14

CHS-OIC – Cargo Handling Basic: 4/14/14, 10/27/14

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

ADVNAV-CMM – Advanced Navigation (=ECDIS & VPEN): 6/2/14, 8/4/14, 11/10/14

ADVSTB-CMM – Advanced Stability: 4/28/14, 6/23/14, 9/22/14

ADVWX-CMM – Advanced Meteorology: 3/10/14, 6/16/14, 9/8/14

CHS-CMM – Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 5/5/14, 7/7/14, 9/29/14

ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display Information System: 5/5/14, 6/2/14, 7/14/14, 8/4/14, 10/20/14, 11/10/14

MCL-CMM – Management, Communication, & Leadership (Management Level): 3/17/14, 5/19/14, 9/15/14

MPP-CMM – Marine Propulsion Plants:  3/31/14, 7/21/14, 10/27/14

SHMGT-CMM- Ship Management (2 weeks): 4/7/14, 8/18/14, 10/13/14

SHS-ADV-I-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 3/10/14, 4/7/14, 4/28/14, 6/9/14, 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): 3/17/14, 4/14/14, 5/5/14, 6/16/14, 8/11/14, 9/15/14, 9/29/14, 10/27/14, 11/10/14, 12/8/14

VPEN-CMM – Voyage Planning & Electronic Navigation: 6/9/14, 8/11/14, 11/17/14

WKP-CMM – Advanced Watchkeeping: 4/21/14, 7/28/14, 11/3/14

CNAV-OIC – Celestial Navigation: 4/28/14, 11/3/14

CONT PLNG – Contingency Planning Workshop:

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

DDE – Great Lakes:


ECDIS-OIC –9/8/14

ECDIS-Pilots – 5/19/14

FF-BADV – Fire Fighting Combined Basic & Advanced: 4/7/14, 6/9/14, 8/11/14, 10/6/14

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep & Medications:  5/21/14, 11/19/14

GL Pilot – Great Lakes Pilotage Familiarization:

GMDSS – Global Maritime Distress and Safety System: 3/17/14, 8/18/14

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

LAP- 3/10/14, 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: 6/2/14

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 5/21/14, 7/8/14, 10/7/14, 11/20/14

LNG-TPIC – 4/7/14

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

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge: 4/21/14, 6/16/14, 9/8/14, 11/3/14, 12/1/14

MED-PIC-REF– Medical Person in Charge Refresher: 5/12/14, 8/4/14, 10/13/14

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 3/17/14, 4/21/14, 6/16/14, 9/8/14, 10/20/14, 11/3/14, 12/1/14

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing: 3/22/14, 4/26/14, 6/21/14, 8/3/14, 9/13/14, 10/12/14, 11/8/14, 12/6/14

MSA –Maritime Security Awareness: 5/5/14 (PM), 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): 3/14/14, 6/6/14, 8/22/14, 10/3/14

MSC-DC – Military Sealift Command Damage Control (4 Evenings): 3/10/14, 6/2/14, 8/18/14, 9/29/14

MSC-SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualification:  3/10/14, 6/2/14, 8/18/14, 9/29/14, 11/10/14

*MSC-SECURITY WATCH BASIC – Contact Admissions


*MSC-Ship’s Reaction Force – Contact Admissions

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 3/31/14, 8/4/14, 9/22/14, 11/17/14

ROR-1N – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 3/20/14, 4/2/14, 4/16/14, 4/30/14, 5/7/14, 5/14/14, 6/5/14, 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: 4/7/14, 7/28/14, 11/10/14

SAR-OIC – Search & Rescue – 4/7/14, 10/13/14

SHS-BAS-OIC – Basic Shiphandling:  5/12/14, 6/16/14, 8/18/14, 11/17/14

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

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: 4/7/14

VPDSD – Vessel Personnel with Designated Security Duties: 5/6/14, 8/5/14, 10/7/14

VSO – Vessel Security Officer: 3/21/14, 5/7/14, 8/6/14, 9/2/14, 10/8/14

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.

March 2014

10-21     GMDSS
17th       Radar Renewal
24-28     ECDIS
24-28     Able Seaman
24-4       License Preparation (Mate Level)

April 2014

7-11       ECDIS
14th       Radar Renewal
14-18     Medical Care Provider
14-25     Medical Person-In-Charge
15-18     ARPA
28-2       ECDIS

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