Wheelhouse Weekly – March 26, 2007

March 26th 2007


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

Volume 11 . . . . . Number 12. . . .March 26, 2007




T-AGS Oceanographic Survey Ships Info

Required Coursework

Security Clearances

MSC Physicals

MM&P Health & Benefit Plan News

Notice to Members who are taking Vioxx

NMHC Mail-Order Prescriptions Website Updated & Improved

WWII USCG Veterans Outreach

Company Gives Bucks Back for buying Safe Shoes

Website Offers Union-Made Goods and Services

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


The lack of federal provisions to preempt local access card schemes means that ports and terminals can continue to impose their own separate access control rules on mariners and other port workers, even as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) begins rolling out the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC).

“The TWIC may be at the top of the stack, but there’s a chance it won’t be the only card” in your wallet, writes R.G. Edmondson in an article published in the March 12 issue of “The Journal of Commerce.”

The state of Florida is moving forward with its own port access card, which will be required in addition to the TWIC. A spokesman for the Florida ports said the state developed the plan as a unified standard in view of the fact that individual Florida ports were already launching their own systems. The state reports it has no plans to give up its card, which it says is more stringent than the TWIC.
A spokesman for the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor is quoted in the “Journal of Commerce” as saying the commission will require that its own access card be used even after the advent of the TWIC. Some stevedores and terminal operators interviewed for the article said they were also considering issuing their own cards.

“Whatever ports want to do for access is up to them,” a spokesman for the government, who asked not to be identified, told MM&P’s communications director in a recent telephone interview. He said that “even if Congress had originally intended there be only one card,” at this point only further congressional action could preempt local schemes.

“The present regulations not only do not address the issue of federal preemption of the TWIC over additional local requirements, they state that local systems are permitted,” says MM&P International President Tim Brown. “This is an intolerable position for workers such as mariners who travel between ports with different requirements. It makes the entire TWIC program worthless for mariners and almost assures that ships will be turned into prisons.”

In its formal comments on the TWIC program, MM&P has repeatedly expressed its grave concerns over the risk of proliferation of local requirements for terminal security and access control. “Mariners are constantly in transit… Allowing different facilities to develop unique access control systems would make access more difficult and run counter to the goal of the program, which is to create a universally accepted identity document.” MM&P and other maritime unions have continually warned that allowing each terminal to have its own unique access control system would make the TWIC program a “massive failure.”


Representatives of MM&P participated March 12-15 in Seattle in a series of meetings, held under the auspices of the Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee (MERPAC), that touched on a range of issues of importance to MM&P members. MERPAC advises the Secretary of Homeland Security on training, qualifications, licensing and certification of maritime personnel.

Topics addressed by the MERPAC working groups included: merchant mariner credentialing; a comprehensive review of STCW; merchant mariner medical waiver evaluation guidelines; minimum standards of competence for tanker safety; and access to shore leave. MM&P members at the meeting included Pacific Ports Vice President Don Marcus, Danny Ellis, and headquarters staffers Richard Plant and Mike Rodriguez.

MERPAC Chair Andy McGovern, a Sandy Hook pilot, is an MM&P member.

During the almost week-long session, MERPAC completed numerous tasks related to pending regulations and formulated a series of recommendations that will be sent to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and DHS.

Among the recommendations that were formulated by the full committee based on input from the working groups:

— that USCG do a better job in ensuring terminals adhere to the intent of the ISPS in facilitating shore leave, crew change-out, visits to ships, provisioning and maintenance;
— that USCG not pursue a proposal for legislative change that would give it discretion to issue licenses and credentials for periods of less than five years;
— that, in addition to a proposal to extend the validity of credentials for a year, DHS also pursue a similar proposal regarding the TWIC since the Merchant Mariner’s Credential would still be invalid if the TWIC had expired;
— that USCG make adjustments to, among other things, the lookback period and list of drugs covered in the medical NVIC.

The most recent draft of the medical NVIC “is far more palatable to the industry than the initial draft,” commented one participant in the meeting.

A complete report on the results of the Seattle MERPAC meeting will be available in coming weeks at

MERPAC will probably hold another meeting over the summer to complete its recommendations regarding the comprehensive review of the STCW Code. Its final meeting on the USCG’s Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Consolidation of Merchant Mariner Qualification Credentials will be held as a public teleconference.



The Senate Commerce Committee is considering legislation that would create a Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee. Under the terms of the proposal, the committee would be comprised of twelve members, none of whom could be federal employees. Ten of the members would be health care professionals “with particular expertise, knowledge, or experience regarding the medical examinations of merchant mariners or occupational medicine.” Two would be “professional mariners with knowledge and experience in mariner occupational requirements.”

Under the proposed legislation, the Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee would provide advice on matters relating to medical certification determinations for the issuance of merchant mariner credentials; medical standards and guidelines for the physical qualifications of operators of commercial vessels; and medical examiner education and medical research. The Commerce Committee has not yet announced a date for formal consideration of this proposal.


The Senate Committee on Commerce is also considering proposed legislation relating to the extension of licenses and merchant mariner’s documents. As proposed, the legislation provides, among other things, that a license or merchant mariner’s document is valid for not more than five years and may be renewed for periods of not more than five years. MM&P has told the Committee that we oppose this proposed change that would give the Coast Guard the unrestricted discretion to issue licenses and merchant mariner’s documents for periods of less than five years. We urged the Committee to instead maintain existing law that states that licenses and documents are issued for periods of five years.

The legislation also directs that the Coast Guard shall maintain records, including electronic records, on the issuance, denial, suspension, and revocation of each license, certificate of registry, merchant mariner’s document, and endorsement on such license, certificate, or document. Access to such records would be governed by the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974. The Commerce Committee has not yet announced a date for formal consideration of this proposal.


The Maritime Security Act authorizes $156 million in fiscal year 2008 to fund and support the continued operation of the 60-ship maritime security fleet. The Bush Administration, in its fiscal year 2008 budget submission to Congress, has again requested less than the authorized amount, asking instead that Congress appropriate $154.4 million for MSP.

In the House of Representatives, Congressmen Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Armed Services Committee, have spearheaded a letter to the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee in support of MSP funding. They are joined in this maritime-industry-supported letter effort by Democrats: Jim Oberstar (Minn.), chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; Elijah Cummings (Md.), chairman of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee; Gene Taylor (Miss.), chairman of the Seapower Subcommittee; Neil Abercrombie (Hawaii); Brian Baird (Wash.); Norm Dicks (Wash.); Brad Ellsworth (Ind.); Phil Hare (Ill.); William Jefferson (La.); Charlie Melancon (La.); Michael Michaud (Maine); Brad Miller (N.C.); John Sarbanes (Md.); and Adam Smith (Wash.); and Republicans Steve LaTourette (Ohio), ranking member, Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee; Todd Akin (Mo.); Richard Baker (La.); Walter Jones (N.C.); Frank LoBiondo (N.J.); Dave Reichert (Wash.) and Chris Smith (N.J.).

The letter states that “the continued funding and implementation of the MSP ensures that America will in fact be able to support our troops overseas by guaranteeing that American-flag vessels and American crews — and not foreign-flag vessels and foreign crews — will continue to be available to transport the supplies and equipment our troops need.”


The Senate has passed a bill aimed at strengthening security at U.S. ports by banning ocean containers from entering the country unless they are scanned and sealed at the port of embarkation. An amendment to the America’s Security Act of 2007 directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to come up with a plan, with yearly benchmarks, to implement the scanning initiative.

The cargo scan provision is one of various security measures recommended by the 9/11 Commission to protect the nation’s ports from terrorism. The bill, which passed the Senate 60-38, would also authorize new surface transportation and rail security assessment grant programs and set timelines for programs underway at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Differences between the House and Senate bills will be reconciled in joint committee. President Bush has threatened to veto the legislation, which includes a Senate provision giving TSA airport screeners collective bargaining rights.


Maritime workers will have to pay between $105 and $137 to obtain a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC), according to a notice published in the Federal Register by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Mariners have until Sept. 25, 2008, to obtain a TWIC. Until then, they can gain access to secure areas of ports, facilities and vessels by showing a valid Merchant Mariner’s Document (MMD) or a merchant mariner’s license with a photo ID.

The final rule on TWIC, which was issued by DHS last January, requires applicants to pay fees that cover enrollment, FBI background checks and security threat assessments. Most applicants will pay $137.25, the standard TWIC fee. Those who completed a prior comparable threat assessment will pay $105.25.

TSA has not yet decided how much to charge for card replacements. In retrospect, the agency thinks the $36 replacement fee stipulated in the final rule is too low to cover its costs, so it has proposed a $60 fee instead. The agency is still reviewing public comments on the higher fee.

MM&P and other maritime unions have advocated for members’ rights at every stage of the TWIC rulemaking process. The union recently participated in a National Maritime Security Advisory Committee working group regarding the equipment that will be used to “read” the TWIC card. Labor believes the TWIC cards should be readable internationally to ensure access to shore leave in foreign ports.


Over the past week, another six representatives have lent their names to the list of supporters of HR 23, the “Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act of 2007,” introduced by Congressman Bob Filner (D-Calif.), chairman of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. HR 23 now has 57 cosponsors. The new cosponsors are representatives Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), John Larson (D-Conn.), Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), Mike D. Rogers (R-Ala.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Heath Shuler (D-N.C.). HR 23 is pending action by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the House Committee on Ways and Means.

The legislation would provide a $1,000 monthly benefit to eligible World War II merchant mariners or their surviving spouses. According to Congressman Filner, HR 23 is intended to “correct an injustice that has been inflicted upon a group of World War II veterans, the World War II United States merchant mariners.”

For updates on the status of HR 23, please go to the U.S. Congress website:


The Pentagon has announced it will shift another 35,000 employees into the controversial National Security Personnel System (NSPS) by the end of April. Maritime labor is closely monitoring the situation because the Department of Defense (DOD) has sought to extend NSPS to a group of employees that would include civilian mariners. MM&P members and other civilian mariners are excluded from the human resource and appeals provisions of NSPS, but not from the labor relations provisions.

The latest round of transfers to NSPS will include more than 26,000 Army employees, 7,500 in the Navy and more than 1,000 in the Air Force. This installment will bring the total number of employees working under the system to more than 113,000. The Pentagon has held off on shifting unionized workers into NSPS until an appeals court issues a ruling in a case challenging the labor relations portions of the system. The unions have argued that the system eliminates collective bargaining rights.


As part of its search for new ways to lessen the impact on the environment of container shipping, MM&P-contracted APL has announced its vessels will burn only low-sulfur fuel while berthed in the Port of Seattle. A spokesman for the company said the decision, which will involve all vessels in its Pacific South 1 Service, was aimed at improving coastal air quality. The low-sulfur fuel will be carried in the auxiliary engines that provide power to the ships in port. In announcing the switch, John Bowe, president of APL Americas, said the use of low-sulfur fuel could cut diesel particulate matter emissions by 75 percent. “There is no regulatory requirement for low-sulfur fuel in Seattle,” Bowe said, “but we’ve got a responsibility to soften our impact on the communities we serve.” The switch is only the most recent innovation to be announced as part of the company’s ongoing ecology program. In December, APL said it would convert 23 vessels in its California services to low-sulfur fuel. It is also using biodiesel in some of its container-handling equipment and partnering with the Environmental Protection Agency to test new, more environmentally friendly fuel emulsification technology.


The American Merchant Marine Veterans of World War II (AMMV) will hold their annual convention at MITAGS May 15-17. A cruise on the SS JOHN W.
BROWN is scheduled for the weekend following the convention. Please join us in saluting the veterans of the greatest generation. For more information, visit


The Coast Guard is soliciting applications for seven positions on the Towing Safety Advisory Committee (TSAC). Applications must be received on or before March 30. TSAC advises the Secretary of Homeland Security on matters relating to shallow-draft inland and coastal waterway navigation and towing safety. The Coast Guard uses the advice in formulating the U.S. position at meetings of the International Maritime Organization. TSAC meets at least once a year in Washington, D.C., or at another location selected by the Coast Guard. The solicitation seeks applications for: one representative of maritime labor; three representatives of the barge and towing industry; one from port districts, authorities or terminal operators; and two from shippers. To be eligible, applicants should have expertise, knowledge and experience in towing operations, marine transportation or business operations associated with shallow-draft inland and coastal waterway navigation and towing safety. The application form is available at or by calling 202-372-1401. You can also e-mail Gerald Miante at to request an electronic copy.


Starting this month, CIVMARS and contract mariners employed in the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility and in the vicinity of the Korean peninsula will be vaccinated against anthrax. The vaccine will also be mandatory for uniformed personnel working in mission-essential services in CENTCOM’s area of jurisdiction, which includes the Middle East, East Africa and Central Asia. The vaccination is administered in a six-part series. Navy medical personnel will administer the vaccinations on board Military Sealift Command (MSC) ships, in MSC work spaces or at military medical facilities. A website established by the Navy to illustrate the program warns that anthrax spores are tasteless, odorless and invisible, and that inhalational anthrax can be fatal within a day or two of the appearance of symptoms. Mariners who are required to take the vaccine will be notified by their chain of command. Individuals who have already received one dose, but would not otherwise be required to take the vaccine, can complete the series if they wish and receive any boosters. For more information, contact Mike Rodriguez at MM&P Headquarters: 410-850-8700 ext. 23 or


CLASS OPENINGS: Between now and the end of May 2007, seats are available in the following courses:

AIS – Automatic Identification System: 3/23
ARPA – Automatic Radar Plotting Aids: 4/3

BRM Bridge Resource Management: 4/23, 5/28
BRMP – Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 5/2
BST – Basic Safety Training: 4/9

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]
CMM-ADVWX – Advanced Meteorology: 4/2
CMM-CHS I – Advanced Cargo Handling (week 1): 4/23
CMM-CHS II – Advanced Cargo Handling (week 2): 4/16
CMM-ECDIS � Electronic Chart and Display Information System: 4/30, 5/28
CMM-MPP � Marine Propulsion Plants: 5/21
CMM-SHMGT-I – Ship Management II (week 1): 4/30
Available on a “Stand-By Basis Only”: CMM-SHS-ADV-I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 4/9
Available on a “Stand-By Basis Only”: CMM-SHS-ADV-II – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 4/16
CMM-WKP � Advanced Watchkeeping: 5/14

CONT-PLNG � Contingency Planning: 5/18
CSE-AASE – Confined Space Entry: 4/25

FF-BADV – Combined Basic and Advanced Fire Fighting: 4/9

HAZ-Hazardous Materials (5-day): 4/16

LAP � License Advancement Program: 5/28
MEDIA-RSP – Media Response: 3/22, 5/17

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Trans Drug & Alcohol Testing: 4/21, 5/19
MED-PIC � Medical Person-In-Charge: 5/14
MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 4/16, 5/14

[MSC – Military Sealift Command]
MSC-CBRD-1 (Chemical Biological Radiological Defense Orientation): 3/30, 5/24
MSC-DC (Damage Control): 3/22, 4/23, 5/22
Available on a Stand-By Basis Only: MSC-SMA � Small Arms: 5/21
MSC-SMA-R – Small Arms Re-Qualification (2-day): 5/25 (must have proof of passing all 3 weapons within 2 years)

ROP-5 – Radar Observer Original and Renewal (5-day): 3/26, 5/14
ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 4/2, 4/30

SEC-OFF-VCF – Security Officer, Vessel, Company & Facility: 5/14
SHS-BAS – Basic Shiphandling: 4/23, 5/28
SHS-EMR- Emergency Shiphandling: 4/2, 4/30
SHS-EMR- BRMP-3- Emergency Shiphandling & Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 3/20

Check the MITAGS website at for course descriptions associated with the course title abbreviations, and schedule revisions. For class availability or info on MITAGS courses and programs, contact admissions toll-free at 866-656-5568 or Email:


Winter – Spring 2007

Due to the high demand for this program, PMI has now scheduled another that is already close to full enrollment for its 2007-start date. See the PMI Web site at for more info on this new development.


SCHEDULE OF COURSES – (Course schedule also posted online at

April 2007
2-6 WX BAS
2-6 TPIC
9-11 SEC VCF
9-13 FF BADV
9-13 SHS BAS
9-13 ARPA
9-13 ECDIS
9-20 GMDSS
16-27 WKP BAS
23-25 BRM
24-27 LFBT
30-4 AB
30-4 FF ADV
30-4 SHS BAS

May 2007
7-11 SHS BAS
7-18 GMDSS
7-18 CNAV
14-18 ARPA
14-18 SHS EMR-5
14-25 GMDSS
16-18 FF ADV
21-25 BST
21-25 ENAV
21-25 CHS BAS

June 2007
11-12         SHS ASSESS
11-15         ECDIS
11-13         SEC VCF
18-22         ARPA
18-22         SHS BAS
25-29         FF BADV
25-29         ROP

July 2007
9th      FL
9-13    ARPA
9-13    BST
10-13  LFBT
16-20 AB
16-20 MED PRO
16-20 ENAV
23-27  SHS BAS
23-3    CNAV
30-3   ARPA
30-3   MED PRO
30-10 MED PIC      

August 2007
6-7      SAR
6-10    BST
7-10    LFBT
8-10    EP
14-17  LFBT
13-17  AB
13-17  CONSTB
13-17  SHS EM5
13-17  ECDIS
13-17  TPIC
20-24 AB
20-31 SHS ADV
20-24 CHS BAS
27-31  BAFF
27-31  ENAV
27-31  MED PRO
27-8    GMDSS         
27-29  CSO/SSO

September 2007
4-7      LFBT
4-8      WX BAS
4-8      TCNAV
10-14  BST
10-14  AB
10-14  MED PRO
10-14  TCNAV
10-14  SHS BAS
17-21  MED PRO
17-21  ARPA
17-21  SHS BAS
17-21  TCNAV
17-28  GMDSS
19-21  AFF
24-5    WKP
24-28 ROP
26-28 AFF

For registration call Jennifer Fowler 888-893-7829


High-quality clothing embroidered with the NEW PMI logo! We can ship these items also! Acceptable forms of payment are check, credit card, money order and exact cash. Call Laura Bendixen at 888-893-7829 for prices and to order. If we don’t have your size, we’ll be glad to special order for you at no extra cost.



D O W N A S D A Q S & P 500
12,481.01 2,448.93 1,436.11
Fund Name & Trading Symbol
 Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VFINX)
 Vanguard Extended Market Index Fund (VEXMX)
 Vanguard International Growth Fund (VWIGX)
 Vanguard Morgan Growth Fund (VMRGX)
 Vanguard Windsor II Fund (VWNFX)
 Vanguard GNMA Fund (VFIIX)
 Vanguard High Yield Corporate Fund (VWEHX)
 Vanguard Total Bond Index (VBMFX)
 Chase Growth Fund (CHASX)
 Fidelity Asset Manager (FASMX)
 Fidelity Growth and Income (FGRIX)
 Fidelity Magellan Fund (FMAGX)
 Fidelity Small Company Instl (FMACX)
 Fidelity Value Fund (FDVLX)
 Spartan US Equity Index Fund (FUSEX)
 Domini Social Equity Fund (DSEFX)


~ Reminders ~




All MM&P members are reminded that to sail aboard the T-AGS ships that MM&P-contracted Horizon Lines will be operating, you must have the required training certification and your certificates must be current in accordance with Military Sealift Command requirements. Members are also required to have had a MSC pre-employment physical and to possess Ship Security Clearance (see below).

The MSC Contract calls for all training certificates required for manning of these vessels to be no older than 5 years and that all STCW-95 courses be renewed every 5 years, or annually, as applicable.

Five-year renewable courses include, but are not limited to:

  • Advanced Fire Fighting
  • Basic Safety Training, and
  • Damage Control

Small Arms certificates must be less than 1 year old and MUST NOT expire during your tour of duty.

Members interested in applying for one of the positions onboard the T-AGS vessels are advised to make sure your certificates are up to date. If not, contact Mary Matlock or Diane Ford at MITAGS Admissions, email:, and schedule to take the course(s) needed.

Those MM&P members interested in obtaining more information and facts about the T-AGS Oceanographic Vessels are asked to email the Director of Special Projects requesting the “facts sheet”. It will be provided by return email in an Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

Members interested in employment on the T-AGS ships are asked to provide a 1-2 page resume. Please list the desired position you are seeking along with the certificates of training you possess and their dates. Upon receipt it will be forwarded to Horizon Lines and a confirmation sent back to the member. Vessel turnover commenced Oct.17, 2004. Positions for all ratings remain open.

The point of contact for sending a resume for employment on the Horizon Lines T-AGS Oceanographic Vessels is Richard Plant, MM&P’s Director of Special Projects. Send resumes in an email or as a Word file attachment to him at:, by fax to 410-850-0973 or by mail to:

Richard Plant, Director of Special Projects

700 Maritime Blvd.
Linthicum Heights, MD 21090


Members who want to sail for Horizon Lines on the T-AGS Oceanographic Survey vessels the company is set to begin operating for MSC must have Ship Security Clearance before going aboard.

Special software must be downloaded from the US Government’s Defense Security Service to complete the Security Clearance application. You must have an Internet connection and a Windows-based computer to retrieve the application and run the program.

Go to to download the software titled “EPSQ SUBJECT2_2”.

After the software is installed and the program is launched, select “Create” from the menu bar at the top of the screen. You will be required to enter your Social Security Number and a case-sensitive password. A window titled “Type of Form” will appear.

All Deck Officers should select the first button titled “Request for Security Clearance (SF86)” and then click “OK” to go to the next screen, “Type of Investigation”.

From the “Type of Investigation” screen:

  • Masters and Radio Officers should select the first button, “Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI)”.
  • All other Deck Officers (C/M, 2/M, 3/M) should click on the second button, “National Agency Check (NAC or NACLC)”.

After selecting the appropriate investigation type, click on “OK” to begin filling in the forms.


Horizon Lines requests all mariners seeking employment aboard the T-AGS Oceanographic vessels to take their MSC Physical at specially-designated facilities only after being advised to do so by the Company. This is to assure that all requirements of the MSC Physical are properly met.



Is it time to replace that car you’re driving? Vehicle loan rates are looking great at MM&P FCU.

Drive away in a new or used vehicle for a standard loan rate of:

4.75 percent for terms up to 24 months.
Standard loan rates for longer-term loans are:

5.00 percent for 25-48 months;
5.75 percent for 49-60 months ($20,000 minimum); and
6.25 percent for terms extending from 61-72 months ($25,000 minimum).
You can lower your loan rate even more — by 0.75 percent — by becoming a Preferred Borrower.

Are you paying a higher rate on your current vehicle loan at another institution? Consider refinancing your outside loan at the MM&P FCU and taking advantage of our lower loan rates.

MM&P FCU will finance up to 100 percent of your new vehicle loan, and up to 90 percent of NADA Book Value on a used vehicle. Maximum vehicle loan amount is $30,000.

MM&P FCU members can reduce the interest rate they pay on any new loan even further by becoming a preferred borrower. What is a preferred borrower? That’s a member who deposits at least 10 percent of the original loan amount into their MM&P FCU savings account and keeps those funds on deposit until the loan is paid in full. By doing this you save twice – first, your deposit works for you by earning our regular dividend savings rate, and second, you save money by reducing the interest rate on your loan by 0.75 percent.

Contact the MM&P FCU for full details on all loan programs by email to or call 1-800-382-7777 toll-free.




On Sept.30, Merck & Co. voluntarily withdrew Vioxx, a popular anti-inflammatory medication, from the market. As a result, individuals who are currently taking the drug have been asked to contact their health care professionals to discuss discontinuing use of Vioxx and possible alternative treatments.

MM&P Plans Administrator Valerie Verrecchio reports that, “We have gotten a number of calls from members who want to know what to do with their remaining supply of Vioxx and whether the Plan or NMHC will refund their co-pay for the unused portion.

“Unfortunately, neither NMHC nor the Plan was aware of the Merck decision prior to the public announcement on Sept.30. As of that date, all deliveries of Vioxx to our members was suspended in accordance with Merck’s announcement. Orders that had already been processed and were in transit could not be stopped.

“In regard to refunds, Merck has set up a website at where members can obtain information on how to recover refunds from Merck for the unused portion of medication. Members can also call following toll free number for information: 1-888-368-4699.

“We are sorry for any inc onvenience this may have caused to members currently taking this medication, however, the matter is out of the control of the Plans.”


MM&P Plans Administrator Valerie Verrecchio reports, “Good news! NMHC mail has finally gotten their website upgraded and functioning properly. I went in and tested it myself and found it to be quite user friendly.”

To use NMHC’s upgraded service, go to the NMHC Mail website at and click on “MEMBER LOGIN” at the bottom of the screen.

First-time and Registered users may bypass the welcome screen and go directly to the log-in page at

  • First-time users should then click on the link marked “NEW USER: REGISTER HERE”.
    This will take you to a page titled “MEMBER REGISTRATION” where you will need to enter demographic information and submit it by clicking on the
  • “CREATE ACCOUNT” button.

After creating your account, NMHC will email you a password to gain entry into your records. With your first sign-in, the NMHC system will prompt you to change the NMHC password to one of your own choosing.

Once you are registered at NMHC, you can check the status of open orders by logging-in to the system through the “MEMBER LOGIN” page and going into the “MAIL ORDER” menu. You can look up all prescriptions and get the price our members will pay for any medication. You can also view an order history of all of your medication transactions (both retail and mail) for the last 24 months, locate 24-hour pharmacies in your zip code region as well as access other helpful member education information.

“We hope this welcome improvement will assist our members. Although you cannot order refills on line if you don’t provide a credit or debit card number, you can phone in your refill. Once you register on the website, you will still have access to all of the other information including checking the status of your order once it is phoned in,” said Ms. Verrecchio.


The U.S. Coast Guard has announced an initiative to identify and collect the oral histories of its World War II veterans. Coast Guard WWII veterans, including SPARS and merchant mariners, are encouraged to record their histories online with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project at

Those veterans needing assistance in recording their stories can receive help from their local Coast Guard Auxiliary public affairs contact by leaving a message at 1-877-875-6296, a toll-free call.



LMS Ship Management, the company that manages vessels for Central Gulf, Sulphur Carriers and Waterman Steamship, wants to remind MM&P members that they offer their crewmembers a $75 reimbursement on the cost of purchasing certain slip-resistant shoes and boots for use aboard ship.

This offer has been in place for some time and LMS reports that “we have been pleased with the participation to date, but feel a reminder may be in order.” Their goal is for every crewmember to wear slip resistant footwear during working hours aboard their vessels.

The $75 reimbursement is available to each crewmember who provides LMS with an original receipt for the purchase of slip resistant footwear. In order for the crewmember to obtain the reimbursement, they must wear the shoes while on duty. Upon presentation of the receipt, the crewmember will be reimbursed on their pay voucher. The receipt will be retained by the Master and will remain aboard the vessel.

Vessels in the LMS footwear reimbursement program are:

  • Green Cove
  • Green Dale
  • Green Lake
  • Green Point
  • Atlantic Forest
  • Sulphur Enterprise
  • Energy Enterprise
  • SGT Matej C. Kocak
  • MAJ Stephen W. Pless, and
  • PFC Eugene A. Obregon

LMS notes that in order to receive reimbursement, crewmembers must purchase one of the following recommended brands:

  • WORX by Red Wing Slip Resistant Footwear
  • Caterpillar (must have steel toe & slip resistant sole)
  • Wolverine (must have steel toe and slip resistant sole)
  • Dunham Sierra Work Boot EH
  • Steel Toe Voyager
  • Georgia Boot 6- or 8-inch Safety Toe Boot
  • Dr. Marten’s (must have steel toe & slip resistant sole)


Of the boots listed above, Red Wing, Caterpillar and Wolverine boots are produced by US union labor.

Redwing’s Union-made products are: Red Wing shoes and boots, Red Wing motorcycle boots and Craftsman (Sears).

Wolverine World Wide manufactures boots under the Caterpillar brand using US union labor. (Other union made safety-shoe brands by Wolverine are the company’s Hy-Test, Durashock and Bates Military labels. The company’s Wolverine brand combat boots are also produced using US union labor.)

Most Dr. Marten’s shoes and boots are produced in the UK.

To find US, union-made products, visit the AFL-CIO Union Label Service and Trades website at and click on “Union Made Product Search”. To shop for union-made products online, go to



The Union Label recently went digital with a new website offering shoppers an array of union-made gifts, from clothing and chocolates to computers, games and greeting cards.

The website,, launches on the eve of the fall and winter holidays, when shoppers will spend an estimated $1 trillion on gifts, food, drinks and other seasonal items, explained Matt Bates, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO Union Label & Service Trades Department. The all-union shopping site, however, will be a year-round operation because that is what consumers demand, he added.

“Shoppers spent $56 billion in Internet sales last year, and on-line spending is doubling every two to three years. Everyday we receive Email and calls from people who want to support good jobs by buying union-made goods and services. The website will reach millions of people, 24 hours a day, with a quick convenient way to shop union,” Bates said.

“The public is ready for this. People have seen millions of good jobs disappear and they are looking for ways to take a stand and make a difference,” he added.

The AFL-CIO will target the peak of the holiday shopping season by promoting “Buy Union Week” Nov. 26 through Dec. 5. The newly-launched, all-union shopping site will be a cornerstone of that campaign. MM&P has a link to the Shop Union Site on this website under “Links and Other Sources”.

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 and is posted on our web page.

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