Wheelhouse Weekly – March 19, 2013

March 19th 2013


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

Volume 17 . . . Number 12. . . March 19, 2013

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



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


On March 22, the MM&P Hall in Puerto Rico will be closed for Emancipation Day. On March 29, Good Friday, the following MM&P offices and halls will be closed: the MM&P Health & Benefit Plan Office, MM&P headquarters, the MM&P Federal Credit Union, all Atlantic Coast union halls, all Gulf Coast union halls and the Honolulu Hall. On Monday, April 1, all Pacific Port halls except for Honolulu will be closed for Cesar Chavez Day.


The budget-cutting law referred to as “sequestration” will affect the Maritime Security Program (MSP) and the status of the Ready Reserve Fleet (RRF), according to the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD). In a meeting with maritime union officials on March 18, MARAD representatives said it is likely that full funding for MSP will not be available for the final months of this fiscal year.

Under the terms of sequestration, Congress mandated that federal spending be automatically cut beginning on March 1 by $85 billion. The cuts are required to be split between defense and non-defense spending. In the context of the sequester, MSP is considered a “defense discretionary account” subject to a 13 percent cut in appropriations for Fiscal Year 2013. Since the sequester will be implemented over the seven months remaining in the current fiscal year rather than over a full 12-month fiscal year, MSP will be subject to an effective cut equal to 9 percent of funding. In other words, unless Congress acts, there will be a reduction of approximately $22.8 million in MSP funding, which will reduce the amount available for the program from the $175 million appropriated for Fiscal Year 2013 to $152.2 million.

A reduction in the size of the maritime security fleet, coupled with a loss of jobs for American mariners, would adversely affect our industry’s ability to provide the commercial sealift capability our country needs. The continued viability of the U.S.-flag merchant marine would be put at risk by cuts to MSP. The same can be said for the proposed cuts to U.S. government export programs, including the PL 480 Food for Peace Program covered by U.S.-flag cargo preference requirements.

MM&P and MIRAID will be working with our friends and supporters in Congress to maintain the programs important to the U.S.-flag fleet and the jobs of American merchant mariners. We will keep readers informed through articles in The Wheelhouse Weekly.


MM&P Government Fleet Representative Randi Ciszewski is negotiating on behalf of Federal Employee Membership Group (FEMG) members to minimize the impact of furloughs under sequestration.

Civil Service mariners in combat zones or deployed onboard ships at sea are exempt from the furlough provision. But Civil Service mariners aboard ships overseas in a maintenance status and mariners ashore are subject to furlough. The furlough requirement would affect MM&P members who work for Military Sealift Command and are in training status, at the CSUs, on leave, on ship’s funded leave and assigned to a ship but berthing in a hotel. It would also affect our FEMG members employed by NOAA, Army Corps and CNO (Harbor Pilots/Chief Pilots).

“MM&P will negotiate over the application of furlough regulations to ensure fair and consistent application among the members that may be affected,” Ciszewski says.

Every affected DOD employee would be subject to up to 22 discontinuous workdays (176 hours) of furlough. The Department of Defense/Department of the Navy would implement the furlough from April 25 through the pay period ending Sept. 21. Any exceptions to the furlough would have to be endorsed by the Secretary of the Navy and approved.

The Navy has created a website that lists answers to “frequently asked questions” regarding the impact of the furloughs on its civilian employees. The site URL is


The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) has set April 9 as the date for a ratification vote on a new six-year master contract. The union has also settled local working conditions with employers in the Port of New York and New Jersey. “I am extremely pleased that the parties approved their tentative agreement for a successor master agreement,” said U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director George H. Cohen in an official statement. “The parties have successfully concluded lengthy, complex and understandably sometimes contentious negotiations concerning a multitude of economic and job-related issues. Mutual respect, good old fashioned ‘roll up your sleeves’ hard work and applying innovative problem solving skills ultimately prevailed.”


President Obama has announced that he will nominate Thomas Perez, the head of the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department, as the next secretary of labor. Perez would replace Hilda Solis. Labor leaders welcomed the news, calling Perez a champion for workers’ rights. “At a time when our politics tilts so heavily toward corporations and the very wealthy, our country needs leaders like Tom Perez to champion the cause of ordinary working people,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.


The environment is the biggest loser when ships on the Great Lakes are forced to “lightload” because of the dredging crisis: it takes 2,800 trucks to equal the amount of cargo that the largest “Lakers” can carry in just one trip if they can load to their designated draft, says the Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA) in its 2012 annual report.

The drought has pushed water levels on Lakes Michigan and Huron to record lows and the water level in the St. Mary’s River has also declined. At the end of 2012, ships were loading to less than 26 feet. “In 1997, the last period of high water, ships routinely locked through the Soo drafting 28 feet or more,” LCA says.

The organization intends to work harder than ever in Washington, D.C., to advocate for legislation mandating that the monies in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund be used for their intended purpose: operation and maintenance of our country’s navigation channels. “Waterborne commerce is the greenest form of transportation,” the LCA says. “It’s simple physics: since there’s less friction as an object moves through water, it just doesn’t take as much power.”


MM&P member and veteran ship pilot Captain Frank Knowles died March 14 after falling from the Jacob’s ladder of a bulk carrier off Panama City, Fla. He initially was able to cling to a life raft thrown by the pilot boat operator, but then lost his hold and drifted away. An emergency helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft from the U.S. Coast Guard were immediately deployed, but visibility was poor in the early morning darkness. His body was found two hours later by searchers aboard the bulk carrier’s fast rescue craft.

“We are deeply saddened today at the loss of one of our fellow harbor pilots and a dear friend,” said a spokesperson for the Florida Harbor Pilots Association in a statement. “Captain Frank Knowles has been a dedicated and brave harbor pilot since he was licensed in 1976. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Gail, and his family. Words cannot express the grief and sadness that every harbor pilot across the state feels today at this tragic loss.”


Although the Coast Guard has yet to issue final rules on implementation of the STCW95 Code and the 2010 Manila Amendments, deadlines for mariners sailing on foreign voyages (including to Canada and Mexico) are fast approaching. None of the listed requirements can be enforced by the Coast Guard until the final rules are in place, but they can be enforced by foreign port state control officials. If you sail on foreign voyages subject to the STCW Code, we encourage you to acquire the necessary training and endorsements before the various deadlines.

— Minimum Hours of Rest Requirements; Effective Now; See Policy Letter 12-05.

The 2010 Manila Amendments amended the definitions and amount of rest required by mariners with safety and emergency duties when serving aboard vessels subject to the STCW95 Code. The Code also requires additional recordkeeping for port state control. CVC Policy Letter 12-05 provides guidance on these new requirements and recommendations on recordkeeping formats. We encourage management level officers and shore-side personnel to review and implement the recommendations provided in this policy letter.

— Vessel Security Officer, Vessel Personnel with Security Related Duties and Security Awareness for all other mariners; Due Jan. 1, 2014; See Policy Letter 12-06.

Vessel security officers (VSO) and other mariners require specific security-related endorsements on their Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC). Additionally, crewmembers who have specific security duties and all other crewmembers must have security awareness endorsements. The three STCW95 endorsements are: VSO = Vessel Security Officer; VPSSD = Vessel Personnel with Specific Security Duties; SA = Security Awareness.

Because the endorsements are hierarchal, VSO covers VPSSD and SA and the VPSSD endorsement also covers the SA endorsement. Endorsements should be made on the MMC’s STCW page in the column “Capacity.” On the page with the STCW Regulations, your endorsement should read either: VSO = VI/5; VPSSD = VI/6; or SA = VI/6

— Vessels Equipped with Electronic Chart Display Information Systems (ECDIS); Due Jan. 1, 2014; See Policy Letter 12-07.

Deck officers sailing on vessels equipped with ECDIS will have to complete a Coast Guard approved ECDIS Course (generally 35 hours or five days). The policy letter “grandfathers” mariners who have successfully completed an approved Coast Guard ECDIS Course (see enclosure 1, section IV, paragraph 2 of policy letter 12-07). Mariners who successfully completed a MITAGS CMM-ECDIS course after April 1, 2001, have satisfied the new requirements.

— Management, Communication and Leadership Courses at the Management and Operational Levels; Due Jan. 1, 2017; See Policy Letter 12-07.

Mariners sailing as master, chief mate, chief engineer and first assistant engineer subject to the STCW Code have to complete a 35-hour leadership course. MITAGS has received approval for its course and has added it to the standard school schedule. Mariners sailing at the operational level (2M, 3M, 2AE, 3AE) have to complete a 1-day seminar on leadership. Again, MITAGS has approval from the Coast Guard to present a new seminar. Please note: To date, mariners who completed the MITAGS Horizon Lines MCL Course have not met the new requirements. MITAGS is currently seeking approval of this course.

— 5-Year Refresher Training (BST); Due Jan. 1, 2017; See Policy Letter 12-07.

Mariners will no longer be able to completely satisfy the basic safety refresher requirements with sea service alone. Every five years, certain elements of basic/advanced fire-fighting, personal survival craft and fast rescue boat must be refreshed with an approved Coast Guard course. MITAGS-PMI is working with the National Maritime Center to determine what will be required. More information should be available later this year.

— Other Endorsements; Due Jan. 1, 2017; See Policy Letter 12-07.

Mariners sailing as engineers at the operational or management levels will have to complete an approved Engine Room Resource Management (ERM) course. We are working on the details of this new requirement.

— Unlicensed deck personnel sailing as ABs will need a new “Able Seafarer-Deck” endorsement on the STCW page of their Merchant Mariner Credential. Unlicensed members of the engine department sailing as QMED will need an “Able Seafarer-Engine” endorsement.

The Coast Guard is also amending the endorsement language on the MMC to better align with the new STCW requirements. New language will be placed on the STCW page of the credentials for the Tankerman PIC, Tankerman-Barge, Tankerman-Engineer and Tankerman PIC-Liquefied Natural Gas endorsements. Again, we recommend getting your updated STCW endorsement language before Jan. 1, 2017.

For more information: Policy letters 12-05, 12-06, and 12-07 are posted on the USCG National Maritime Center website. For credentialing and endorsement questions, please e-mail: If you have questions on specific MITAGS or PMI certificates or courses, please e-mail MITAGS-PMI Student Services Coordinators Vic Tufts ( or Jennifer Pitzen (


From now until May 31, MM&P members and their families can save an additional 1% on the already low cost of our auto and personal loans. For the next 72 days, in fact, we’re reducing all our rates by 1%. Until May 31, the starting rate on our already low-priced auto loan will be reduced to an incredible 1.50% (according to, the average 4-year auto loan rate was 2.65 on March 18). This means that for clients who qualify for the starting rate, the MM&P Federal Credit Union can save members and their families more than $483 on a $20,000 auto loan!

The rates on our personal loans, which now start at 5.00%, will also be reduced by another 1% across the board until the end of May, which means that qualified borrowers can get a loan rate as low as 4%! Act now to take advantage of this great offer.

It’s easy to save money and time with MM&P Federal Credit Union: download a loan application at ; send an e-mail to or call us toll free at 800-382-7777 (we’re open Monday-Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Friday from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.)

And remember: if you’re sick and tired of bank fees, the credit union offers free checking accounts; surcharge-free ATMs through the 30,000 terminal CO-OP ATM Network; and free electronic bill pay. Contact us today to take advantage of our convenient, low-cost services and great new rates!


Did you know that the Washington State Ferry system is the third largest ferry system in the world? Did you know that the ferry system is the most popular tourist attraction in the state of Washington? In a video posted to the MM&P YouTube channel, union members who work for the ferry system tell their stories and passengers talk about why the ferry system is important to them and to the state as a whole. To view the video, go to


The Offshore Familiarization Course will be offered at the Los Angeles Hall on April 10-11 and Oct. 9-10. For more information or to sign up, please contact the Los Angeles Hall: 310-834-7201.


Passengers traveling aboard the CARNIVAL DREAM were flown home from the Caribbean island of St. Maarten March 15 after mechanical problems put an untimely end to their cruise. The incident took place just as the company was reporting problems aboard two other ships, the CARNIVAL LEGEND and the CARNIVAL ELATION.

Carnival has been in the news almost daily since the CARNIVAL TRIUMPH reported an engine room fire while cruising in the Gulf of Mexico in February. Many of the 3,000-plus passengers on that cruise said they had been forced to sleep on deck because of the lack of air conditioning and problems with sanitation facilities. A number of lawsuits have been filed against Carnival alleging unhealthy conditions aboard the crippled ship.

In last week’s incidents, the company said that the CARNIVAL LEGEND was unable to sail at optimal speed off the coast of Honduras because of a malfunction related to one of the ship’s Azipod units. Passengers aboard the CARNIVAL DREAM had to be flown home because of a generator problem. The company said that problems aboard the ELATION, which had to be towed to New Orleans on March 9, were also linked to an Azipod unit.


Pirates have freed the chemical tanker ROYAL GRACE more than a year after it was seized off the coast of Oman. The UAE-owned ship and its 20 crewmembers were seized on March 2, 2012. Almost a year later, on March 8, the ship was spotted on the high seas by the EU NAVFOR flagship MENDEZ NUNEZ about 20 nm off the coast of Somalia. The warship received a message from the master of ROYAL GRACE confirming the ship was now free. There was no word on whether a ransom had been paid. Thirteen seafarers are still being held in Somalia, including crewmembers of the MV LEOPARD and the ASPHALT VENTURE. Only two vessels remain in pirate hands: the Malaysian ship ALBEDO and a fishing boat.


Maersk Lines has set up a series of ship handing courses for masters and chief mates who want to command the CV6500 class of containerships that are tentatively scheduled to be transferred into the Maersk U.S.-flag fleet. The five-day course will provide familiarization with the handling characteristics of the new class of vessel and will also fulfill the company’s emergency ship handling course requirements. Please call or e-mail MITAGS admissions to enroll. Note that the courses are open to any eligible MM&P member, but permanent masters and chief mates sailing for Maersk will be given preference. The schedule is as follows: April 22-26 (5 attendees); May 6-10 (5 attendees); May 20-24 (5 attendees); June 3-7 (5 attendees); June 10-14 (5 attendees).


Between now and the end of June, the following courses are scheduled at MITAGS. (Please keep in mind, however, that the schedule may be subject to change.)

For class availability or information on courses and programs, contact MITAGS Admissions Coordinator Kelly Michielli toll free at 866-656-5568 or e-mail her at

Or, try our on-line calendar to register for class:

ARPA – Automated Radar Plotting Aids: 3/26/2013, 4/2/2013

AZIPOD (2-DAY) for Pilots: 3/20/2013

BRM – Bridge Resource Management: 3/18/13, 5/12/13

BRMP – Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 5/23/13

BST – Basic Safety Training: 4/8/13, 6/24/13

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

CMM-ADVWX – Advanced Meteorology: 4/1/13, 6/17/13

CMM-ADVNAV – Advanced Navigation (=ECDIS & VPEN): 3/18/13, 6/3/13

CMM-ADVSTB – Advanced Stability: 4/28/13

CMM-CHS – Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 5/6/13

CMM-MPP – Marine Propulsion Plants: 5/20/13

CMM-SHMGT – Ship Management (2 weeks): 4/15/13

CMM-SHS-ADV-I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 4/1/13, 4/15/13, 5/6/13, 6/24/13

CMM-SHS-ADV-I I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 4/8/13, 4/22/13, 5/13/13, 6/17/13

CMM-WKP – Advanced Watchkeeping: 4/8/13, 6/24/13

CONT PLNG – Contingency Planning: 5/9/13

ENVIRO-Regs Permit – Environmental Regulations Permit: 5/23/13

ECDIS-ENAV for Pilots (2 day): 6/13/13

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep and Medications: 5/23/13

FF-BADV – Combined Basic and Advanced Fire Fighting: 4/8/13, 6/24/13

FL – Flashing Light: 4/1/13, 4/10/13

HAZ – Hazardous Materials (5 day): 6/24/13

LAP – License Advancement Program for C/Mate & Master: 4/1/13

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 5/23/13

MCL – Management, Communications and Leadership, 3/25/13

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge: 4/22/13, 6/10/13

MED-PIC -R– Medical Person in Charge Refresher: 5/13/13

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 4/22/13, 6/10/13

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing: 3/23/13, 4/13/13, 4/27/13, 6/15/13, 6/29/13

MSC -SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualification: 6/3/13

MSC-DC – Military Sealift Command Damage Control (4 Evenings): 6/3/13

MSC-CBRD-1 – Military Sealift Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense Orientation (Basic): 6/7/13

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 3/20/2013, 4/3/13, 4/10/134/17/13, 5/1/13, 5/15/13, 5/22/13, 6/5/13, 6/19/13, 6/26/13

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 3/25/13, 4/1/13

ROP-5 – Radar Observer Original and Renewal: 4/8/13

SHS-BAS – Basic Shiphandling: 3/25/13, 4/29/13, 6/24/13 SEC-VSO – Vessel Security Officer: 5/6/13

SHS-ESH-BRMP3 – Emergency Shiphandling and Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 5/20/13

… Remember: If you can’t make the class, make the call. Be courteous, don’t be a “no show.”

Check the MITAGS website at for course descriptions associated with the course title abbreviations.


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

March 2013

20thFatigue, Sleep, and Medications

April 2013

3-5Vessel Security Officer
8thRadar Renewal
22-26Train the Trainer
29thMed DOT
29-3Medical Care Provider
29-10Medical Person-In-Charge

May 2013

6-7ECDIS for Pilots
6-10Basic Meteorology
13thRadar Renewal
14thRFPNW Assessments
21-23Bridge Resource Management for Pilots
29-30ECDIS for Pilots
29-31Vessel Security Officer

June 2013

3-21Terrestrial and Coastal Navigation
10thRadar Renewal
11-13Bridge Resource Management for Pilots (3-day)
14thFatigue, Sleep, and Medications for Pilots
24-28Radar Observer Unlimited
24-28Medical Care Provider
27-28Bridge Resource Management for Pilots (2-day)