Wheelhouse Weekly – March 24, 2000

March 24th 2000


Bridging the Information Gap With E-News You Can Use

VOLUME 4. . . . . NUMBER 12 . . . . March 24, 2000



On March 13, MM&P filed a Motion and a Brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to appear as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in support of the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association’s Petition to vacate (overturn) a decision by the US Maritime Administration (MARAD) allowing reflagging of eight Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) vessels managed by PRONAV Ship Management. These are the only LNG vessels under US-flag.

MM&P took this step in solidarity with MEBA and because of the detriment to the entire US maritime industry such a decision creates. Although the vessels have predominantly sailed in the foreign-to-foreign trade, most recently US port calls have been added due to the growing strength of the LNG market. Terminal personnel in Lake Charles, LA, where the MEBA-crewed LNG AQUARIUS recently called, report that plans are being discussed to add up to three new LNG berths there to handle the increased traffic that is expected.

Last year, PRONAV, who manages the LNG ships, abruptly pulled out of negotiations with MEBA before agreeing with the American Maritime Officers (AMO) and the Seafarers International Union (SIU) on a foreign-flag contract through 2004. The vessel owners filed applications with MARAD to reflag the eight vessels to the Marshall Islands, a flag-of-convenience registry. MM&P strongly opposed this application in comments submitted to MARAD.

In its Brief, MM&P presented four principal arguments for vacating and remanding the decision by MARAD to allow the 8 LNG vessels to be reflagged from the US to Marshall Islands flag.

Among them MM&P asserted that the delegation of authority from Congress to MARAD does not contain specific restrictions on MARAD’s discretion, and that MARAD was required to judge any reflagging application by the standard of whether or not the reflagging did anything to promote the US Merchant Marine.

Unless a reflagging application promotes the US Merchant Marine, it is MM&P’s position that any such application is required to be rejected by MARAD.

Generally MM&P argued that the record made by MARAD was inadequate and that the case should be returned to MARAD so that an adequate record could be provided for review. Oral argument before the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is scheduled for May 17, 2000, at the US Courthouse at 333 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


Preventing maritime accidents, lowering their human and financial costs when they occur, and reducing risks are the subjects of a national conference and exposition organized by Professional Mariner magazine scheduled for Nov.14-15, 2000 at MITAGS.

The Professional Mariner’s Maritime Casualty Conference & Expo will be produced in association with MITAGS and in cooperation with the American Society of Naval Engineers, USCG, and the Society of Naval Architects & Marine Engineers. It will be held at the MITAGS Training and Conference Center. Lodging discounts are available for MM&P members.

“Despite ever improving technology, maritime casualties cost ship owners, insurance companies and the public billions of dollars in losses and hundreds of lives are lost annually,” said Twain Braden, Maritime Casualty Editor at Professional Mariner magazine and Program Director of the conference.

“Accidents are increasingly complicated,” said Braden. “It used to be simpler to understand them. Now we’re recognizing that dozens of factors might lead up to an accident; and we’re trying to understand the interaction between people, equipment, management and legislation that result in accidents.”

Participants will include fleet managers, captains, naval engineers, pilots, port officials, environmental officials, licensed mariners, safety personnel, government officials (city, state, federal), manufacturers, the USCG and marine educators. All major organizations with responsibility in the maritime casualty and safety area are expected to attend.

The format will focus on case studies of specific accidents and will make use of the excellent conference and computer and simulation facilities at MITAGS including sessions covering:

  • analysis and evaluation of selected maritime casualties
  • how training can prevent marine casualties
  • the role of personnel management
  • maritime casualtieswho shoulders the liability
  • the latest developments in safety and prevention technology
  • damage control: what to do in the aftermath of an accident
  • response plans: how to make sure they are effective
  • rights and responsibilities in working with marine salvors

Integral to the event will be an exposition of the latest in technology and services necessary to help prevent casualties, or to help minimize the costs once a casualty occurs.

For further info, contact the Maritime Casualty Conference & Expo at PO Box 418, Rockport, ME, 04856; fax: 207-236-0369, phone: 207-236-6196, or Email:

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


Continuing on track with its $1 billion program to increase Panama Canal safety, reliability, and competitiveness, a new Communication, Traffic Management and Navigation System [CTAN] recently became fully operational.

CTAN is based on Global Positioning System [GPS] technology, and is part of the Enhanced Vessel Traffic Management System [EVTMS] that has placed the Panama Canal at the forefront of maritime traffic management.

While the traffic and information navigation system is similar to those used in other countries, it has been custom designed for the Panama Canal. To use the system, Panama Canal Pilots board vessels with briefcases equipped with a laptop computer and other electronic equipment and use the system to track the vessel’s location and transmit information via radio to a central computer at the Maritime Traffic Control Center.

At the center, all vessel data including that of Canal launches and towboats, is integrated. This info is bounced back to the vessel, allowing the pilot to see on the computer monitor a real-time position map showing all transiting vessels and Canal support equipment.

Pilots can also check vessel speed and position in relation to banks, other floating equipment, and the locks. This gives pilots and traffic controllers the ability to calculate vessel meeting times and points along the waterway.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


The Associated Press reports that an appeals court has rejected a challenge by Exxon Corp. on the $5 billion civil verdict resulting from 1989’s massive oil spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the verdict should not be thrown out because of irregularities during jury deliberations.

The appeal of the punitive damages verdict was one of several filed by Exxon and co-defendant Joseph Hazelwood, who was in charge of the tanker EXXON VALDEZ when it drove onto a charted reef in Prince William Sound in March 1989 and spilled 11 million gallons of Alaska crude oil. The spill, the nation’s worst ever, polluted more than 1,000 miles of shoreline, killed tens of thousands of birds and marine mammals, and disrupted fishing. Today, March 24, marks the 11th anniversary of the disaster.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


The AFL-CIO newsletter Work In Progress reports that the 600 pilots at Louisiana-based Petroleum Helicopter Inc., the nation’s largest oil-field helicopter services company, have a voice at work after voting for the Office and Professional Employees International Union March 13. The election was the third since September 1997 for the bargaining unit. The National Mediation Board ruled that the workers previous attempts to choose a union were marred by employer interference.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


The SS UNITED STATES Foundation based in Washington, DC, is working to save one of the most famous ships in US maritime history. Some possibilities include finding a new mission for the ship such as a hotel or convention center, a traveling National Monument as a Ship of State, an active cruise ship or a mercy ship sailing on worldwide humanitarian missions.

The foundation has also been taking another tack to preserve the ship by having it declared a National Landmark. The vessel is already on the National Register of Historic Places, but that won’t save it from the scrappers. The ship needs to be designated as a National Landmark which is the only designation that would protect the ship from being scrapped.

The foundation is publicizing the plight of the ship in order to muster support in its behalf. The Foundation is encouraging people to write their Congressmen and Senators and contact media outlets to further spread the word on the vessel.

For more info check the Foundation’s website at: or write SS UNITED STATES Foundation, PO Box 853, Washington, DC 20044. Info about the ship can is also available at:

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


Casting a spotlight on the growing problem of cargo theft where an estimated $10 to $12 billion worth of goods is stolen each year, Oscar statuettes that were to be handed out at the Academy Awards ceremonies on March 26 vanished from a loading dock used by Roadway Express. An academy spokesman said the 54 statuettes disappeared from Bell, a Los Angeles community about 15 miles from Beverly Hills. The uninscribed Oscars, which have an actual value of about $400 apiece, had been shipped from Chicago where they were manufactured.

Earlier this week, after an all-out Oscar hunt which lasted for several days, the LAPD recovered the statuettes after they were found next to a dumpster at an industrial park. Police arrested a Roadway employee and charged him with the theft.

There were some indications that the statuettes had been sitting on a loading dock for a couple days. One security expert said that “Cargo at rest is cargo at risk. Any delay in taking delivery increases the risk of theft,” adding that about 80% to 85% of all cargo theft are inside jobs of some kind or other.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


MITAGS has the following course openings:

  • March 27-April 7: GMDSS
  • March 27-April 28: LAP
  • April 3-7: MED1ST
  • April 10-21: GMDSS
  • April 15: 1 Day Renewal
  • April 17-21: Fast Rescue Boat
  • June 5-9: MED-PIC

Please note that MITAGS will not run the following courses on the scheduled dates listed below:

  • May 22-26: SHS-INT
  • June 5-9: SHS-ADV

These courses will instead run later in the year.

Contact Mary Matlock at MITAGS admissions at: Email: or phone: 443-989-3226. Information and applications are also available on the MITAGS web site at

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly

The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly is being produced under MM&P election guidelines which have been previously published and may be found in their entirety on the MM&P website. The 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 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 under “News” at:

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