Wheelhouse Weekly – May 12, 2015

Volume 20 . . . Number 19. . . May 12, 2015


In this issue:



Other News:

News for MM&P Members:


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


Atlantic Ports union halls will be closed on May 22 for National Maritime Day. All MM&P union halls, the MM&P Plan Office, the MM&P Federal Credit Union and MM&P headquarters will be closed on May 25 for Memorial Day.

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Members of the American Merchant Marine Veterans Association (AMMV) gathered at MITAGS last week for their annual convention. The group included mariners who had sailed in World War II, as well as in more recent conflicts. MM&P President Don Marcus welcomed the group to MITAGS, the union’s training facility. “Having had the honor of sailing with many World War II veterans who were still at sea in the mid-seventies,” he said, “it was a pleasure to be invited to speak at the convention.”

Marcus told the group he is proud to recognize the collective efforts of U.S. maritime labor unions to stem the decline in the number of U.S.-flag ships. “Today we carry less than 2 percent of our international maritime commerce aboard approximately 80 U.S.-flag merchant ships,” he said. “Add to that fewer than 100 oceangoing ships in the Jones Act commercial service and you have some 180 ships, at most, in the entire U.S. commercial merchant marine. Today, Military Sealift Command is the largest employer of U.S. mariners and even if you add the Civil Service-crewed U.S. naval auxiliary vessels and the contract mariner crewed vessels under charter to the U.S. military, you would be very hard pressed to come up with a total of more than 260 large ocean-going vessels in full operational service under the U.S. flag.”

“That is a sad state of affairs and it leads one to believe that if something is not done, eventually the U.S. merchant marine will be reduced to a small naval auxiliary force,” he said. “Thankfully, something is being done, and I am proud to say that it is the U.S. maritime unions collectively who are doing the most about it and who have been engaged in a relentless effort to keep the U.S. flag afloat. Whether we can bring this vessel to an even keel and do more than hang on, however, remains to be seen.”

Marcus added that although “the role of labor cannot be over emphasized in this effort… labor and management alike are on the same page… It is a great blessing that in almost all circumstances we can present a unified front with management in these efforts,” he said.

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Reflecting growing concerns in Congress over the drop in the number of U.S.-flag ships and the resulting fall in the number of U.S. merchant mariners, the House Committee on Armed Services is calling on the Maritime Administration, in conjunction with the Department of the Navy, “to provide a comprehensive report… on the status of the merchant mariner workforce and whether there are sufficient merchant mariners to meet the Navy’s surge fleet requirements.” The committee has requested the report by Sept. 30, 2015, and wants it to include an analysis of options for correcting the problem, taking into account “U.S. national security interests, U.S. commercial shipping interests, and budgetary implications.”

The committee added the merchant mariner workforce study provision to HR 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, which is tentatively scheduled for consideration by the House of Representatives during the week of May 18. Defense authorizations legislation that at this time does not include a similar mariner workforce study requirement is expected to be considered by the Senate Armed Services Committee prior to the Congressional Memorial Day recess.

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Reaffirming its position that “U.S. Merchant Marine credentialed officers remain vital to ensuring the economic and national security of the United States,” and noting that the state maritime academies each year turn-out two-thirds of the officers for service in the merchant marine, the House Committee on Armed Services has called for the recapitalization of the state maritime academies’ training fleets. The committee said in a statement that a multi-mission national security ship “would maximize mariner training opportunities for cadets and midshipmen while providing a flexible platform suitable and available for national security, emergency or humanitarian response.”

Most importantly, the Armed Services Committee encouraged the Department of Transportation “to continue budgeting for the design and construction of a National Security Multi-Mission Vessel in order to recapitalize the aging fleet of State Maritime Academy training vessels.” Significantly, the House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee approved $5 million for National Security Multi-Mission vessel design for state maritime academies. Securing these funds, which have been requested by President Obama in his FY’16 budget, was one of the top priorities presented to Congress by MM&P and other organizations that participated in the Maritime Industry Congressional Sail-In on March 24.

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Key members of the House Committee on Armed Services, led by Congressman Duncan Hunter, have successfully added a “Sense of the Congress provision” to the pending defense authorizations bill that states that “dedicated and enhanced support is necessary to stabilize and preserve the Maritime Security Program.” The provision notes that “the drop in the number of U.S.-flag vessels in the international trades is in part a result of reductions in government-impelled cargoes, both Department of Defense cargoes and food aid cargoes.” As a result, they call for greater government support for the Maritime Security Program to ensure that a sufficient number of militarily useful commercial vessels remain under the U.S. flag in the Maritime Security Program to meet the needs of the Department of Defense and to support American troops whenever and wherever necessary.

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The Senate has permanently tabled an attempt to override President Obama’s veto of a measure that would have overturned a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rule aimed at making it easier for workers to form labor unions. The legislation the president vetoed was backed by the Republican majority. It would have undone an NLRB rule that shortens to 11 daysfrom the current 38 daysthe amount of time the Board will have to run union elections.

Employers generally use the time leading up to an election to campaign, often using coercion and intimidation, against a union vote. Common strategies include organizing mandatory meetings in which workers are required to listen to anti-union propaganda (often presented by union-busting firms) and filing lawsuits to block or delay elections.

The president has said the legislation he vetoed would have reversed “common-sense, modest changes to streamline” the union voting process. “One of the freedoms of folks who live in the United States is if they choose to join a union, they should be able to do so,” he told reporters. “We shouldn’t be making it impossible for that to happen.” In March, Republican senators had tried to jettison the rule using the Congressional Review Act, which allows them to undo a regulation through “a motion of disapproval,” by a simple majority vote in both chambers.

Democrats argue that the GOP, in pushing to lengthen the lead-up time to union elections, is siding with special interests. “I am stunned that we have the Republican majority fighting to keep the system rigged against American workers,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a Senate floor speech. “My friends on the other side of the aisle have once again taken up the cause of special interests.” Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who says he is a member of three labor unions, added that the Board rule under attack by GOP legislators takes a “small but important step” toward strengthening “the voices of regular Americans in the workplace.”

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An article published recently in The San Francisco Chronicle highlighted the pioneering efforts of MM&P members Nancy Wagner and Lynn Korwatch. When Wagner and Korwatch started their careers, writes journalist Carl Nolte, women at sea were considered bad luck. The weight of tradition, superstition and men not wanting to take orders from a woman were but a few of the challenges they faced. Both were among the first women to hold a position of command aboard ship: Nancy Wagner was the first female pilot in the United States; Lynn Korwatch was the first woman to captain a U.S.-flag freighter.

Recalling the challenges they faced, two messages were clear: Never give up, and never pass on the big chance. Nancy Wagner, assigned to a freighter as a cadet at the age of 19, was told by the captain she was not welcome aboard. The trip involved one winter storm after another, even loss of some cargo over the side. Wagner was blamed. She went on to sail as a licensed deck officer out of East, Gulf and West coast ports. Lynn Korwatch recalled getting her big break in 1988: a chance to sail as captain, from Oakland to Hawaii, when she was eight months pregnant. “Never pass up an opportunity. Here was my chance to be captain,” she said. “I didn’t care how pregnant I was.”

Nancy Wagner retired in March from her job as a bar pilot. Lynn Korwatch is now executive director of the Marine Exchange of San Francisco Bay.

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The AFL-CIO held its thirty-fourth annual C.O.P.E. Dinner April 28 in Baltimore. MM&P President Don Marcus attended, along with Secretary-Treasurer Steve Werse and Chief of Staff Klaus Luhta. The dinner honored Maryland’s five-term Senator Barbara Mikulski, who has announced she will retire after her current term. Mikulski has a long record of advocating for jobs and has consistently been a strong supporter of the U.S. maritime industry.

In her remarks, Mikulski said she will not vote in favor of giving “Fast Track” authority to President Obama to push through the trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Fast Track authority would give Congress only the opportunity to vote the deal up or down: not to amend it in any way or to filibuster it. Details of the pact are being kept secret, and unions are among the many groups opposing it as yet another threat to American jobs. “I came in with the support of labor and I am going out with labor,” Mikulski said.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont announced last month that he will run for president. Sanders is technically an independent but he votes and caucuses with the Democrats. Among his legislative priorities: reducing income and wealth inequality in America; ending childhood poverty; and reducing the high cost of health care. A strong Sanders campaign would be a demonstration that falling wages and incomes and the decline in middle class living standards are motivating American voters to look beyond the two major parties. Sanders’ entry into the race is expected to pressure frontrunner Hillary Clinton to temper her business-friendly policies with commitments to labor and other components of the progressive base.

“Corporations can’t have it both ways,” Sanders says on his campaign website. “They can’t tell Americans how much they want us to buy their products but then run abroad to avoid taxes or hire cheap labor. American corporations should pay their fair share of taxes and create jobs herenot in China.”

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Congressmen Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) and Rob Wittman (R-Va.) have received the Maritime Leadership Award from the Shipbuilders Council of America (SCA), a national trade association representing the nation’s shipbuilding and repair industry. The award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, dedication and support to the shipbuilding and repair industry.

“From their critical role in supporting the U.S. shipbuilding and repair industry to ensuring our Navy fleet is equipped with the resources and programs necessary to maintain a skilled and experienced workforce, Congressman Courtney and Wittman have demonstrated that they are true champions of the maritime industry,” says SCA President Matthew Paxton. “Additionally, their outspoken leadership in support of the Jones Act ensures that it remains the strong backbone of America’s maritime industrial base, safeguarding thousands of family-wage jobs and protecting both our armed forces and our borders from threats domestic and abroad.”

As a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, Courtney has worked to bolster the nation’s naval defense by calling for increased submarine production, which has added hundreds of family wage-jobs to communities across the country. Through his role as co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus, the SCA says, he has led the fight to ensure America’s defense is supplied with the latest technology and resources to stay competitive and strong against current and potential threats.

“Without shipbuilders to maintain and modernize our military and commercial fleets, we would lose the longstanding superiority of our Navy, and international commerce would be threatened,” Courtney said in accepting the award. “As ranking member of the Seapower Subcommittee and co-chair of the Shipbuilding Caucus, I am proud to play a leading role in Congress to educate and advocate to members about the importance of maintaining our shipbuilding workforce for the future. I am grateful for this recognition, and look forward to continuing to advocate for the men and women of the maritime industry.”

As chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee and member of the Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee, Wittman is recognized as a leader in Congress on maritime issues and also as a champion for U.S. veterans and active service men and women. As co-chair of the Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus, he is also a dedicated advocate for a robust Navy and a strong domestic shipbuilding and repair industry.

“A vibrant U.S. shipbuilding and domestic maritime industry, underpinned by the Jones Act, is good for our economy and national security.,” Wittman said. “The efforts of the Shipbuilders Council of America have tremendous implications for the military, merchant marine, industrial base, and for our economy.” SCA members constitute the shipyard industrial base that builds, repairs, maintains and modernizes U.S. Navy ships and craft, U.S. Coast Guard vessels of all sizes, as well as vessels for other U.S. government agencies.

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The captain of the ferry that capsized a year ago with the loss of more than 300 passengers, has been jailed for life. Lee Joon-seok, 69, had originally been sentenced to serve 36 years for negligence and dereliction of duty. Prosecutors had charged him with murder and sought the death penalty. They appealed the 36-year sentence as being too lenient, and an appeals court in South Korea agreed, ruling instead that he should serve a life term. The court reduced the sentences of 14 other crew members to between 18 months and 12 years.

MM&P and Nautilus, the British, French and Dutch maritime officers’ union, have repeatedly called for leniency for the captain and crew, arguing that they are being scapegoated. “While this is a horrifying maritime disaster, a vigilante reaction does nothing more than mask the underlying deficiencies which led to the tragedy,” said MM&P President Don Marcus. “From what has come to light so far, this accident, like other industrial accidents, appears to be the consequence of mismanagement at many levels of the organization.”

In their own defense, the captain and crew of the SEWOL testified that they had not been adequately trained to handle emergencies. The ferry, which capsized after making a sudden sharp turn, was found to be structurally unstable and carrying an excessive load of cargo and passengers.

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In May, the monthly membership meeting at the MM&P New York/New Jersey Hall will take place on the third Wednesday of the month, May 20, instead of on the second Wednesday of the month. All members in the area are encouraged to attend the meeting. The hall is located at 35 Journal Square, Suite 912, Jersey City, NJ 07306-4103.

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The Offshore Familiarization Course will be held at the MM&P New York/New Jersey Hall on May 19 and 20. The class begins at 0900 hours on May 19. There is no sea-time requirement to take the course. All Offshore applicants, potential transferees from other membership groups and other interested Offshore members are encouraged to take the course as soon as possible. If you are interested in participating, please contact Ana Victorio in the MM&P New York/New Jersey, or 201-963-1900.

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MITAGS needs your current address! Have you moved recently? Did you remember to send MITAGS your new address for communications regarding courses? Please send your current contact information to or to the fax number below.

New dedicated fax line for Admissions only: 1-443-568-1928. For all other MITAGS business, please continue to use: 410-859-5181.

For class availability or information on MITAGS courses and programs, contact Kelly Michielli, Admissions Coordinator, toll-free at 866-656-5568 or by e-mail: . Why not try our on-line calendar to register for class:

Please note the special addition to our on-campus schedule of MSC classes marked with an asterisk (*), which are not normally scheduled to be held at MITAGS.

AB – 8/17/15, 10/12/15

AIS-1 – Automatic Identifications Systems Orientation: 6/19/15, 7/13/15

ARPA-OIC – Automated Radar Plotting Aids: 8/4/15, 9/22/15

AZIPOD 2-Day – 10/1/15

BRM-35 – Bridge Resource Management: 5/18/15, 8/3/15, 10/19/15

BRMP –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 6/17/15, 7/16/15, 11/9/15

BRMP-EMR –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots with Emergency Shiphandling: 9/28/15

BT – Basic Safety Training: 6/8/15, 8/10/15, 10/5/15

BT-Revalidation – 8/4/15, 11/3/15

CHS-OIC – Cargo Handling Basic: 10/26/15

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

ADVNAV-CMM – Advanced Navigation (=ECDIS & VPEN):

ADVSTB-CMM – Advanced Stability: 6/15/15, 7/27/15, 9/28/15

ADVWX-CMM – Advanced Meteorology: 6/1/15, 8/3/15, 10/19/15

CHS-CMM – Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 10/5/15

ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display Information System: 6/8/15, 8/17/15, 9/21/15, 10/5/15, 11/2/15, 12/7/15

LMS – Leadership and Managerial Skills (Management Level – Formerly MCL-CMM): 6/22/15, 7/13/15, 8/10/15, 8/31/15,9/28/15, 10/26/15, 11/16/15, 11/30/15

MPP-CMM – Marine Propulsion Plants: 11/16/15

SHMGT-CMM- Ship Management (2 weeks): 9/14/15

SHS-ADV-I-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 6/1/15, 7/13/15, 8/10/15, 8/24/15, 10/5/15, 11/9/15, 11/30/15

SHS-ADV-II-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 6/8/15, 7/20/15, 8/17/15, 8/31/15, 10/12/15, 11/16/15, 12/7/15

VPEN-CMM – Voyage Planning & Electronic Navigation: Contact Admissions

WKP-CMM – Advanced Watchkeeping: 11/9/15

CNAV-OIC – Celestial Navigation: 11/9/15

CONT PLNG – Contingency Planning Workshop: Contact Admissions

CRISIS-COMMS – Crisis Communications: 7/9/15

DDE – Great Lakes: 5/27/15

DPA – Contact Admissions

ECDIS-OIC – Contact Admissions

ECDIS-Pilots – 6/15/15, 7/14/15, 11/12/15

ERM – Engine Resource Management: 6/15/15, 7/20/15, 8/24/15, 9/21/15, 10/19/15, 11/9/15, 12/14/15

FF-BADV – Fire Fighting Combined Basic & Advanced: 8/10/15, 10/5/15

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep, & Medications: 7/6/15, 9/15/15, 11/11/15

GL Pilot – Great Lakes Pilotage Familiarization: Contact Admissions

GMDSS – Global Maritime Distress and Safety System: 8/24/15

HAZ – Hazardous Materials (5 day): 6/22/15, 8/31/15, 11/16/15

LAP- 9/14/15

LAP-Great Lakes – License Advancement Program – Great Lakes: Contact Admissions

LAP-ORG3rd – License Advancement Program for Original 3rd Mate, Oceans, Any Gross
Ton License: 6/1/15, 8/3/15, 11/30/15

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 6/17/15, 7/16/15, 9/16/15, 11/10/15

LNG-TPIC – 12/7/15

LTS –Leadership and Teamworking Skills (Formerly MCL-OIC): 9/21/15

MEECE – Management of Electrical and Electronic Control: 6/8/15, 7/6/15, 8/17/15, 9/14/15, 10/12/15, 11/2/15, 12/7/15

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge: 6/15/15, 8/24/15, 12/7/15

MED-PIC-REF– Medical Person in Charge Refresher: 7/27/15, 9/28/15

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 6/15/15, 8/24/15, 10/12/15, 12/7/15

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing: 6/20/15, 7/25/15, 8/28/15, 11/5/15, 12/12/15

MSA –Maritime Security Awareness: Contact Admissions

[MSC – Military Sealift Command Courses]

MSC-CBRD-1 – Military Sealift Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense Orientation (Basic): 6/5/15, 8/19/15, 10/29/15

MSC-DC – Military Sealift Command Damage Control (4 Evenings): 6/2/15, 8/17/15, 10/27/15

*MSC-ENVPRO – 6/6/15, 8/16/15, 10/31/15

*MSC-FF-HELO – 6/9/15, 8/3/15, 11/2/15

MSC-SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualification: 5/26/15, 8/8/15, 10/19/15

*MSC-Security Watch Basic – 5/30/15, 8/6/15, 10/17/15

*MSC-Security Watch Advanced –6/1/15, 8/12/15, 10/23/15

*MSC-Ship’s Reaction Force – 6/2/15, 8/13/15, 10/24/15

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 8/3/15, 9/21/15

ROR-1N – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 5/13/15, 6/3/15, 6/10/15, 6/17/15, 7/8/15, 7/22/15, 8/5/15, 8/19/15, 9/2/15, 9/16/15, 9/30/15, 10/14/15, 10/28/15, 11/3/15, 11/11/15, 11/18/15, 12/2/15, 12/10/15

ROU-OIC – Radar Observer Program – Unlimited: 6/1/15, 7/27/15

SAR-OIC – Search & Rescue – 10/19/15

SHS-BAS-OIC – Basic Shiphandling: 6/22/15, 11/2/15

SHS-EMR5 – Emergency Shiphandling-5 Day: 7/27/15, 9/28/15

SMS – Contact Admissions

STB-OIC – Ship Construction and Basic Stability: 8/3/15

TCNAV/CO – Terrestrial Navigation and Compasses: 7/6/15

TPIC – Tankerman Person in Charge: 8/3/15

TRAC-TUG-2: Contact Admissions

TTT – Contact Admissions

VPDSD – Vessel Personnel with Designated Security Duties: 5/21/15

VSO – Vessel Security Officer: 5/18/15, 7/22/15, 9/9/15, 10/7/15, 10/17/15

WKP-OIC – Watchkeeping (Operational Level): 9/28/15

WX-OIC –Meteorology (Operational Level): 9/14/15

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Please also see our schedule and enroll online at For registration contact our registrar, Jennifer Pitzen: 206.838.1126 or

May 2015

18-22 Leadership and Managerial Skills
26th Radar Renewal
27-29 Bridge Resource Management and Emergency Shiphandling for Pilots

June 2015

1-3 Security – Vessel, Company, and Facility
1-5 Medical Care Provider
1-12 Medical Person-In-Charge
8-12 Leadership and Managerial Skills
15-19 ECDIS
15-19 Tankerman Person-In-Charge
22-26 Leadership and Managerial Skills
22-26 Basic Meteorology
29-3 Leadership and Managerial Skills

July 2015

6-24 Terrestrial and Coastal Navigation
13-17 Leadership and Managerial Skills
13-24 GMDSS
20-23 ARPA
27-31 Radar Observer Unlimited

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The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly is the official electronic newsletter of the International Organization of Masters, Mates, & Pilots, ILA, AFL-CIO, 700 Maritime Blvd. Suite B, Linthicum Heights, MD 21090-1953. Phone: 410-850-8700; Fax: 410-850-0973. All rights reserved. The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly © 2015. Articles can be reprinted without prior permission if credit is given to The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly. For new subscriptions or address changes, send an e-mail to Back issues of The Weekly are posted on