Wheelhouse Weekly – March 13, 2003

March 13th 2003


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

Volume 7 . . . . . Number 11. . . . . March 13, 2003






As the Wheelhouse Weekly went to press, MM&P President Capt. Tim Brown and Offshore Pacific VP Capt. Don Marcus, along with officials from MEBA and the ARA, were meeting in San Francisco with representatives from Matson Navigation regarding crewing, wages, benefits and other contract issues for two newbuilds being constructed at Kvaerner’s Philadelphia shipyard.

The aim is to work out a compromise for these two new ships that would solve Matson’s financial problems and allow all the unions currently represented to keep their members aboard. Matson has stated that it needs to work out new terms from all of its contracted unions, licensed and unlicensed, to consider taking a proposal to its parent corporation Alexander & Baldwin’s board of directors. Meetings between the company and its contracted unlicensed unions have not yet taken place.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



As of April 1, 2003, The 5-day MITAGS course on hazardous materials is required for all Matson Masters and Chief Mates. The next MITAGS HazMat course is scheduled for April 7-11.

For more info contact MITAGS admissions at 443-989-3226 or Email:

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The Medical Treatment Facility aboard the MM&P-crewed Navy hospital ship USNS COMFORT has now been fully staffed by over 1,000 medical and non-medical support personnel including a full complement of doctors, nurses, corpsman and other specialists.

She initially sailed from her layberth in Baltimore in early January with about 290 medical and non-medical support personnel which was enough to staff 2 of the vessel’s 12 operating rooms. Now all 12 operating rooms are staffed as are the 80 intensive care beds, 20 recovery beds, 400 intermediate care beds and 500 minimal care beds.

The newly-arrived medical personnel were flown from the US to meet the ship that is now on station with the US Fifth Fleet somewhere in the Persian Gulf region. They are active duty Navy members mostly assigned to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.

USNS COMFORT has a crew of 61 civilian mariners under the command of MM&P member Capt. Richard Cicchetti. MM&P member Dean Bradford is serving as Chief Mate. MM&P member Nick Nowaski is the Second Mate and Third Mate Kirby rounds out the MM&P complement.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



US Military Forces and Persian Gulf Arab states preparing for war against Iraq have taken steps to protect oil fields, refineries and tankers from an Iraqi counter-attack or a militant bombing.

They are concerned about a repeat of one-off bombings such as those against the US warship COLE or French oil tanker LIMBURG. A source from Japan which relies on the Persian Gulf for most of its oil said Japanese tanker crews may refuse to sail to the area if war breaks out.

According to a US Navy spokesman, over 90 US and other allied combatants are available to protect tankers, while the USCG has brought equipment to contain any oil spill if Iraq repeats the “environmental terrorism” it used in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The Boston Globe reports that local, state, and national organizations representing 13 million union workers around the country have recently adopted resolutions criticizing military intervention in the Middle East. Among those are some of the largest affiliates of AFL-CIO, including the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the Service Employees International Union, and the Communications Workers of America.

The unions are urging that the billions of dollars now being devoted to “armaments, domestic repression, and bailouts” be spent instead on “retraining and jobs for the 800,000 workers who lost their jobs after Sept.11 and to plug the $50 billion deficit in state and local budgets that has resulted in major cuts in essential services.”

Once supportive of the war on terrorism, the paper reports that attitudes of some unions began to change when it became clear that a war was going to be waged on labor at home as well as on enemies abroad.

Some labor concerns in the aftermath of 9/11:

President Bush has sought little or no aid for displaced workers as part of his airline industry bailout package that requires airlines’ workforces to accept massive wage and benefit concessions in order for the employer airline to qualify for bailout money. No similar requirement is imposed on airline executives.

The White House has won congressional approval for “fast track” votes on future free trade deals which threaten manufacturing jobs while putting federal action on extended unemployment benefits on the slow track.

Another concern: a Homeland Security Department staffed by 170,000 federal employees who won’t have normal union rights or civil service protection. The administration says that collective bargaining by workers like the Homeland Security Department’s newly hired airport screeners, would interfere with the “war on terrorism.” Bush reportedly wants to privatize (outsource) 700,000 other federal jobs.

Two weeks ago, the AFL-CIO executive council declared that the president had failed to make the case “for military action at this time.”

Other labor unions disagree with this position. Most notably, Teamsters Union president Jimmy Hoffa is leading the pro-administration “Committee for the Liberation of Iraq.” The article also notes that other trade unionists may be reluctant to question government policy for fear of endangering troops in the field.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The broad-based Labor-Management Coalition has urged the USCG to make sure that any newly enacted maritime security requirements are fair and equitable to US-flagged and crewed vessels.

The MM&P and the majority of US maritime labor organizations in the deep sea, coastal and Great Lakes maritime trades, as well as US-flag vessels owners and operators, are a part of the coalition.

The group responded to the USCG’s request for comments regarding the agency’s efforts and intention to implement the recently enacted Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA). Comments were also submitted on the recently adopted International Maritime Organization maritime regulations.

Highlights of the Coalition’s comments follow:

“Our coalition supports USCG and US government efforts in making maritime transportation as secure as possible without disrupting waterborne commerce or unfairly imposing stricter regulations on the US-flag fleet.

“Approximately 95 percent of US imports and exports are carried on foreign-flag vessels manned by a plethora of multi-national crews… Many foreign vessels are registered under a flag-of-convenience nation and oftentimes their ownership is highly questionable and non-transparent. Anonymity appears to be the rule rather than the exception. These vessels present the greatest risk to US security.

“According to a recent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report ‘this enables terrorists and would be terrorists to remain intimately involved in the operation of their vessels, while remaining totally hidden, through the use of relatively simple mechanisms that are readily available and legally tolerated in most all jurisdictions.’

“On the other hand, US-flagged and manned vessels, whether in the domestic or international trades, are transparent, have a distinct loyalty to this country, are certainly not a threat, and, therefore should be viewed differently from their foreign flag-of-convenience counterparts.

“The ISPS Code and the MTSA specify that each vessel designate a vessel security officer and detail his/her duties, responsibilities, and competencies. In light of existing crew workloads from the implementation of the ISM Code and the STCW, the coalition recommends that record keeping be kept to a minimum.

“The coalition recommends that the vessel security officer be permitted to designate assigned collateral security duties to other officers or vessel personnel or share those responsibilities with the company security officer so that mandatory rest periods are in compliance with international and national statutes.”

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



MITAGS was part of the US delegation to the IMO-STCW-34 meeting held in London from Feb.24-28. At this meeting, the IMO established the basic framework and competencies for the Port Security Officer (PSO), Company Security Officer (CSO) and Ship Security Officer (SSO) training programs. This info has been sent to the US Maritime Administration who will complete the development of the model courses by August 2003.

All three programs will be developed concurrently, with more emphasis for security placed on the port/company and less on the ship. The info in the model courses will be rational and within the capabilities of the industry to perform. Additionally, there will be no requirement for “certified training.” Companies need only provide “documentary evidence” that the training occurred and included the information provided by the model courses.

MITAGS will continue to forward the “lessons learned” from these security courses to MARAD for use in the development of the IMO model courses. MITAGS has also established an informal network with a number of maritime training centers around the world to share information on the security training.

Further standardization will occur when the ship’s security plan is submitted to the USCG or Recognized Security Organization for approval. Training is a required element of the plan. Many companies will also opt to include their security plans, training exercises and drills within the context of their safety management system (ISM).

IMO is urging companies to not wait for the model courses to get started. The USCG delegation at the IMO-STW-34 supported this position. Copies of the training competencies, which were discussed at this meeting, are available on the MITAGS website at under “News and Events.”

For companies and mariners desiring formal training structures, MITAGS is offering a combined 4-day CSO/SSO course on monthly basis. A 3-day version has been created for offsite training. The info contained in these programs are also valuable for individuals responsible for the port facility security. Visit the MITAGS website or check with Admissions at 443-989-3246 for further info or course convening dates.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Class Openings

Between now and the end of May, seats are available in the courses listed below:

  • 3/20-21: MSC-DC
  • 3/22: MED-DOT-DA
  • 3/24-28: FF-ADV, COMP-APS
  • 3/28: CBRD-1
  • 3/29-30: MSC-DC
  • 3/31-4/4: BRM, CMM-ECDIS
  • 3/31: ROR-1
  • 4/7-11: HAZ, “MSC” Week courses
  • 4/7-10: SEC-ShpOff
  • 4/19: MED-DOT-DA
  • 4/25: CBRD-1
  • 4/28: ROR-1
  • 5/5-16: MED-PIC, CMM-CHS
  • 5/5-9: BST, MED-PRO
  • 5/10: MED-DOT-DA
  • 5/12-23: GMDSS
  • 5/12-16: FF-ADV, SHS-BAS, COMP-NET
  • 5/12-15: SEC-ShpOff
  • 5/16-17: MSC-DC
  • 5/19-23: GMDSS-REF, ROP
  • 5/19: ISM/REG-UPDT
  • 5/20: CONTG PLNG
  • 5/21: MEDIA RSP
  • 5/22: SEC-MAR

Advanced Cargo-handling Course Approved

The USCG recently announced approval of the MITAGS 70-hour Advanced Cargo Operations course (CMM-CHS) as satisfying the cargo operations training requirements for STCW certification as Master or Chief Mate. All candidates for Chief Mate/Master falling under the new scheme as outlined in NMC Policy Ltr 04-02 will thus have to take the course. This new course may be taken in a single, continuous program, or in two 35-hour modules. Both modules must be completed within one year to receive the Advanced Cargo Handling certificate. Additionally, the 1-week Advanced Stability course (CMM-ADVSTB) will be a prerequisite for CMM-CHS. The first convening of Advanced Cargo Handling will be May 5th. There will be an Advanced Stability course the week April 28th.


Schedules, Course Info & Registration

Courses are subject to change. Always check the MITAGS website for updated course availability. You can also check future schedules, review detailed course descriptions and register on-line or contact Admissions at or 443-989-3226.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Training Packages Include:

  • OS to AB
  • AB to Mate
  • Second Mate to Chief Mate

Call for details at 888-893-7829 or download the PMI course schedule with descriptions at or visit their web site at

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



 D O W

 N A S D A Q


-251.60 for the week


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 Spartan US Equity Index Fund (FUSEX)



MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly

~ Reminders ~



Mariners renewing their license or Z-cards should be aware that some USCG Regional Exam Centers are now only accepting the “Drug Free Certificates” from Greystone Health Services or other USCG approved drug testing agencies. Any other drug test certifications will no longer be accepted.

Upon request Greystone will send duplicate “Drug Free Certificates” on their own stationary to members and applicants so that they can satisfy the USCG. Request forms for this purpose are available at MM&P West Coast ports, which is where this USCG demand is now being enforced.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Effective January 1, 2003, the reimbursement under the dental portion of the Plan was changed from 90 percent in-network to 80 percent in-network and from 80 percent out-of-network to 70 percent out-of-network.

DUE TO AN ERROR at Delta Dental, the claims for MM&P members for services rendered after 1/1/2003, in some cases, have been paid at the old reimbursement rate. The error has been corrected, however, and Delta will be asking for refunds from providers for the 10 percent overpayments. That means that members who were affected by this error will most likely receive a bill from dentists for the additional 10 percent.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The following memorandum from MM&P International Secretary-Treasurer Glen Banks has been sent to all Offshore Ports regarding the clearing or dispatching of MM&P Personnel on Surge and RRF vessels:

Maritime Administration (MarAd) and Military Sealift Command (MSC) officials have advised maritime labor that a break-out of surge and RRF vessels is possible in the near future. In order to ensure that enough qualified mariners are available to man these ships, MM&P, MEBA and AMO agreed, in 1999, to provide manpower aboard each other’s contracted vessels in times of national emergency.

The agreement established a process for filling vacant billets aboard vessels manned by other unions. The process is as follows:

  1. A ship operator identifies a crewing shortfall.
  2. The operator contacts the appropriate government agency.
  3. The agency contacts the other unions.
  4. The other unions fill the requirement.

The ONLY points of contact at MM&P will be Capt. David Boatner in our LA/LB office or Mike Rodriguez at International HQ.

Capt. Boatner and Mike Rodriguez will receive calls only from the appropriate government officials. In other words, ports are NOT TO CLEAR OR DISPATCH our people directly to any vessel not under contract with MM&P without the specific authorization of Capt. Boatner or Mr. Rodriguez.

When these positions become available they will go to active offshore members and applicants first. The jobs will be called in the appropriate halls in accordance with MM&P shipping rules.

In an emergency, Pensioners will be our second choice for filling these jobs. For instance, a pensioner may be shipped to prevent a ship from sailing late. Pensioner earning limitations and contribution issues will be addressed as necessary.

Members and Applicants are reminded that in order to receive pension credit, vacation and other benefits, you must ship through a MM&P hall in the manner described above. Shipping in any other way will not ensure that benefits will passed be through to MM&P Plans. Applicant points will be awarded only for assignments shipped through MM&P offices.

You may direct your questions regarding this issue to:

  • Capt. Banks:; phone: 410-850-8700 ext. 21
  • Capt. Boatner:; phone: 310-834-7201
  • Mike Rodriguez:; 410-850-8700 ext. 23
  • or to the Vice President in your area.


    MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



    During MM&P General Executive Board meetings held at MM&P HQ on January 15-16, 2003, the quota system established for admittance to the Offshore Membership Group was clarified to make it clear that this quota system does not apply to MM&P Offshore Unlicensed members.

    On October 3-4, 2002, the GEB established quotas effective October 4, 2002, stating that “No member of any membership group, including the Offshore Unlicensed Membership Group, may transfer into the Offshore Licensed Membership Group without having been a member of the organization for at least as long as the length of time that the lowest applicant admitted into membership has in the organization.” The wording of this statement was subsequently determined to be incorrect.

    On January 16, 2003, the GEB corrected the quota guidelines to read:

    “No member of any MM&P membership group, except for members of the MM&P Offshore Unlicensed Membership Group, may transfer into the Offshore Licensed Membership Group without having been a member of the organization for at least as long as the length of time that the lowest applicant admitted into membership has in the organization.”

    MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



    The Coast Guard has recently received reports of faulty servicing of several inflatable life rafts that were last serviced by facilities operating under the name “AMPAK” in Baton Rouge, LA, and Panama City, FL.

    In at least one instance, the life raft gas cylinder was found empty, and the life raft would not have worked in an emergency. Others were marked as having been subjected to required tests that were not in fact performed.

    Although the life rafts were USCG approved and of several different makes, the AMPAK facilities were not Coast Guard approved to service any of them. It is not known how many other life rafts may be involved. The USCG strongly recommends that any inflatable life rafts last serviced by those AMPAK facilities be taken to a USCG approved servicing facility as soon as possible. The USCG reports that both AMPAK facilities “appear to have since ceased operations.”

    This recommendation applies to USCG approved life rafts on US-flag vessels, and foreign approved life rafts on SOLAS ships; the AMPAK facilities are known to have serviced both. For more info, contact Kurt Heinz of the USCG Lifesaving and Fire Safety Standards Division at 202-267-1444 or

    MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly





    The Board of Trustees, based on recommendations by the Cost Containment Committee, adopted changes to the Health & Benefit Plan. The following changes will become effective January 1, 2003:

    Annual Deductible

    The current annual deductible of $150/$300 will be raised to $250/$500.

    Out-of-Pocket Maximum

    The current out of pocket maximum of $2,000 will be raised to $3,000.

    Dental Reimbursement Levels

    • The Plan payment to in-network dental providers will go from 90% to 80%.
    • The Plan payment for out-of-network providers will go from 80% of UCR to 70% of UCR.
    • New contract with Delta Dental replaces Aetna/US Healthcare (Prudential Dental) agreement. See below for additional information.

    Prescription Drug Program

    Mail order drugs will be subject to a 20% co-pay for all single source brand name and generic drugs with a maximum out of pocket, per prescription, of $75.

    For brand name drugs where the generic equivalent is available, the member will be responsible for paying the total cost of the difference between the brand name and the generic drug. The Plan will then pay 80% of the cost of the generic and the member will be responsible for the 20% up to a per prescription maximum of $75.

    The Plan has also removed the mandatory mail order provision. This means that any prescription, regardless of the number of refills, can be obtained at a retail level but will be limited to a 30-day supply. However, obtaining maintenance medications through the mail order program may still be less expensive to you.

    A synopsis of these changes and additional changes effective April 1, 2003 appears in the November-December 2002 issue of the MM&P’s Master, Mate & Pilot newspaper. The Plan Office has also mailed a summary of all changes, with examples, to Health & Benefit Plan participants.


    Remember to notify the Plan office whenever you move or have a change of address. There are a number of important mailings scheduled for the next few months and we would like to keep all members well informed. You can fax your address changes to the Plan Office at 410-850-8655 or you can email them to the Plan Office at




    This is a reminder that effective October 1, 2002, the MM&P Plan’s contract with Prudential Dental expired. Prudential was purchased by Aetna/US HealthCare in 2001 and could no longer offer the Plan the same type of fee-for-service arrangement as before.

    In order to continue to offer Plan Participants an in-network dental benefit option, the Plan reviewed proposals from organizations that provide network dental services. After review, the Trustees approved a contract with Delta Dental, the largest provider of dental services in the US.

    The Delta Dental Claims Processing Center in Mechanicsburg, PA, will handle claims administration for all MM&P eligible participants and dependents. This includes claims submitted by out of network dentists as well as those who are Delta Dental providers.

    Plan participants who choose to go to a contracted provider will pay 10 percent of the contracted amount and the Plan will pay 90 percent. Participants will have access to all Delta providers in the Delta Premier Network option that includes over 133,000 dentists nationwide.



    ~ Where Does My Dentist Submit My Claims?

    Effective October 1, 2002, all dental claims with dates of service on or after October 1, 2002, from both in and out-of-network providers, should be sent directly to: Delta Dental, One Delta Drive, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055-6999. Participants will receive a claim form in the mailing sent out by the Plan Office on August 11. Your dentist can copy this form and use it to submit all dental claims incurred on or after October 1, 2002.

    ~ How Do I Find A Delta Dentist?

    You can locate participating dentists in your area in two ways. You can call 1-800-932-0783 from 8 AM to 8 PM Eastern Time, Monday-Friday, or you can sign on to the Delta website at Once you have signed on to the website, key on the bar marked “Pennsylvania”. (MM&P Plan members are enrolled in the Delta Premier Option through Delta Dental of Penn.) Next enter the search criteria to find participating Delta dentists in your area or enter your own dentist’s name to find out if he/she participates with the Premier network.



    Delta Dental will coordinate with the Plan Office to transition all billing for “work in process”. This means that all root canals, orthodontia work and other staged procedures that are not completed under the old arrangement will be carried over and the remaining balance billing, for work performed on or after October 1, 2002 will be processed by Delta Dental.

    It is important to remember that all work that has been pre-determined by Prudential/Aetna must be completed and billed with a billing date on or prior to September 30, 2002, in order to assure that your co-pay will remain the same as quoted in the initial pre-determination.

    Any work started under the old Plan but billed for date of service on or after October 1, 2002 will be reimbursed according to whether the dentist is participating in the Delta Dental network. If your dentist is not a participating dentist, the balance billing will be paid at the out-of-network rate of 80 percent of the Plan’s UCR schedules.



    All questions about any dental claims incurred on or after October 1, 2002, including claims submitted by out-of-network providers, should be directed to Delta Dental at 1-800-932-0783. You have been provided with a Delta claim form to forward to your dentist, however, your dentist may submit any standard dental billing form as long as the bill is sent directly to Delta at the above listed address.



    Participants have been sent a brochure that includes a perforated generic identification card. This card lists the telephone number and the billing address for Delta. You are not required to carry an identification card because your social security number and birth date will identify you as an eligible participant in the Delta Dental Network.

    It is important to remember that MM&P claims will be processed by Delta Dental of Pennsylvania. You or your dentist can access your eligibility by calling either the Plan Office or Delta Dental at 1-800-932-0783.

    If you or your dentist have any questions, you can contact Delta Dental at 1-800-932-0783 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

    Plan members are identified by social security number and the Group Plan number for MM&P which is 7117.

    Billing for both in and out of network claims should be submitted on standard dental billing forms and sent directly to Delta at

    Delta Dental of Pennsylvania One Delta Drive Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

    You can locate participating providers on-line at Masters, Mates and Pilots members have access to providers in all of the Delta networks.


    MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



    • Do you want an easy way to grow your savings?
    • Do you want an easier way to make deposits to your Masters, Mates & Pilots Federal Credit Union account?

    Consider establishing payroll or pension direct deposit.

    Many employers allow you to directly deposit your pay into several different financial institutions. Trinity Management, Strong America, Moran Towing of Florida, and McAllister Brothers are among the MM&P-contracted companies that already provide for employees to deposit funds directly into the MM&P Federal Credit Union.

    MM&P Health & Benefit Plans Pensioners and A&G Region Pensioners may have deductions made directly from their pension check to their Credit Union account. In addition, employees of MM&P, Plans, MITAGS and MIRAID are also eligible for payroll deduction directly into their Credit Union account.

    Add to your savings by paying yourself first! Contact your payroll office to establish Credit Union direct deposit or to find out if this is available for you. For additional details or to get answers to your questions on this or other MM&P Federal Credit Union programs, contact Kathy Klisavage, Credit Union Manager, toll-free at 1-800-382-7777 or by Email at




    Members are reminded that the Masters, Mates & Pilots Federal Credit Union is offering vehicle loans as low as 5.25 percent. Rates range from 5.25 to 6.99 percent for terms of 24 to 60 months. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a new, used or a refinanced vehicle.

    These rates are also in effect for new or used recreational vehicles, motorcycles or boats. Limited funds available at this rate, certain terms and conditions apply.

    MM&P Federal Credit Union membership is open to all MM&P members, to all MM&P, MITAGS, MIRAID and Plans staff, and to their immediate families.

    Rates and terms of offer are subject to change. Call Kathy Klisavage, Credit Union Manager, toll free 1-800-382-7777 or Email for all the details.


    MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



    A memorial fund has been established in the memory of recently deceased MM&P member Jerry Backman. Jerry shipped out of San Francisco and was 49-years old at the time of his tragic death as the result of an auto accident. Jerry leaves a widow and two children.

    Donations made in memory of Jerry will be used to assist with the education of his children, a 22-year old daughter and a 15-year old son.

    The Backman family is privately managing the fund. They are most appreciative of all the messages expressing sympathy and the positive stories from his shipmates and friends.

    Contributions may be sent to:

    The Jerry B. Backman Memorial Fund c/o Bank of the West 2900 Railroad Avenue Pittsburg, CA 94565


    MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly

    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., Linthicum Heights, MD 21090-1941. Phone: 410-850-8700; Fax: 410-850-0973; Email: For further info or to subscribe contact John Peige at The Wheelhouse Weekly is sent via Email to MM&P-contracted vessels at sea, broadcast worldwide via FEC marine telex and is posted on our web page.

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