Wheelhouse Weekly – May 15th, 2018

Volume 23… Number 20… May 15, 2018


Panama Canal Safety Stand-Off:

In This Issue:

Job Opportunities:

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Tensions remain high on the Panama Canal, where tugboat captains continue their protest of dangerous conditions caused by arbitrary manning cuts and an equipment shortage.

The captains are members of the MM&P Panama Canal affiliate Union de Capitanes y Oficiales de Cubierta (UCOC), which represents about 200 tug captains and associated vessel personnel.

They have been protesting dangerous working conditions for months and now face disciplinary action by the Panama Canal Authority (PCA).

As evidence of the safety problems on the canal, they cite the fact that a deckhand died in a November 2017 line-handling accident and, in a separate incident, U.S. Coast Guard cutter TAMPA was involved in a collision.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which investigated the collision, found the primary cause was crew fatigue.

“The master had been working in the wheelhouse alone for a period of time that exceeded eight continuous hours,” the NTSB said.

“It was his seventh consecutive day of similar shift work followed by the overtime he was working while awaiting his relief.”

Last week it was revealed that a second deckhand had been seriously injured in a line-handling incident on April 27.
He is reportedly awaiting rotator cuff surgery.

“He is incapacitated and no specific date of return to work has been set,” a UCOC spokesperson says.
Panama Canal Authority managers have been cutting corners to reduce costs.

When the Neopanamax locks were designed and built, the Panama Canal Authority proceeded with little to no input from the towboat captains.

Most recently, they unilaterally moved to reduce the number of deckhands handling lines aboard tugboats in the locks from three to two.

“The Panama Canal Authority spent billions to expand the canal but has failed to hire the necessary number of people and buy the equipment they need to run it properly,” says MM&P President Don Marcus.

“If you don’t have enough hands on deck, you are putting lives at risk.”

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A new podcast documents working conditions on the Panama Canal through interviews with two tugboat captains, Ivan De La Guardia and Manuel Ceballos, both members of the MM&P affiliate UCOC.

De La Guardia has been a towboat captain on the canal for 25 years, Ceballos for seven.

Ships transited the old locks with assistance from motorized trains known as “mules.”

“But today, tugboats do everything,” Ceballos says.

“In the locks now, we have a primary role in the transits because we actually are doing the towing, the braking and the positioning of the Neopanamax ships,” he says.

“So we have a lot on our shoulders.”

De La Guardia says 12-13 hour days are typical for a towboat captain employed by the Canal Authority.

“It’s very intense work,” he says, “you are non-stop at the controls for five-six hours, working with the pilot and with the bow and stern tug to control the movement of the ship without touching the walls” of the canal.

The two said they believe the decision to eliminate the “mules” was made by the Panama Canal Authority to save money, in particular because each mule required an operator and a maintenance team.

The amount of work has doubled with the elimination of the mules and the opening, two years ago, of the new locks, yet the Canal Authority has not increased the size of the tug fleet and is arbitrarily cutting personnel, including both deckhands and captains.

The podcast was produced by Klaus Luhta, professional mariner and MM&P Vice President Gulf Ports and Government Affairs.

To listen to the podcast, click on the link below or go to and look under “Latest News.”

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The International Maritime Organization (IMO) this week began discussions of its two-year review of the framework intended to regulate the operation of autonomous ships.

Groups representing professional mariners—including the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the International Federation of Shipmasters’ Associations (ISMA)—have warned of the risk of confusion caused by the lack of an agreed definition of what constitutes an autonomous ship.

MM&P Vice President George A. Quick, who chairs the ITF Seafarers Section Committee (SSC) Autonomous Working Group, is among the speakers at the IMO meetings.

The working group predicts that the first phase will be development of “semi-autonomous systems to support and supplement ship board functions in conjunction with onboard human supervision and intervention.”

“Having fully autonomous unmanned ships as the primary goal at this time is an unrealistic distraction from what could be a productive advancement in working conditions, safety and efficiency through technology,” Quick says.

“There will be a natural progression to higher levels of semi-autonomous systems where their use is proven safe and economically justified,” he says.

“The progression will be user experienced and demand driven, rather than technology driven by suppliers.”

The Nautilus Federation, a maritime labor coalition that includes MM&P, warns that neglecting the human factor could pose significant threats to safety and the environment.

It is urging delegates to take note of the findings of its survey of almost 1,000 maritime professionals belonging to more than 20 seafaring unions, including MM&P.

The Nautilus study revealed that 84 percent of maritime professionals consider automation to be a threat to seafaring jobs and 85 percent believe unmanned, remotely controlled ships pose a threat to safety at sea.

But more than 60 percent of respondents said they felt that automation, provided it is introduced gradually and in conjunction with onboard human supervision, has the potential to help reduce fatigue caused by excessive workloads, for example by cutting paperwork and assisting with predictive and preventive maintenance.

Representatives of maritime labor are also calling for a focus on enhanced redundancy and reliability, cyber-security and the legal implications of jurisdiction and responsibility for remotely controlled operations.

“It is absolutely vital that people are not forgotten in the scramble to bring smart ships onto the seas,” says Nautilus General Secretary Mark Dickinson.

“There is no knee-jerk opposition to technology, but rather a genuine desire to see it used in a way that improves the safety and efficiency of the shipping industry and the working lives of all within it.”

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced legislation last week that he said would boost wages by strengthening labor unions.

Although the U.S. unemployment rate was 3.9 percent in April, the lowest in 17 years, the drop in unemployment has not led to higher wages, a fact that has economists puzzled.

Sanders introduced the bill, The Workplace Democracy Act, on May 11.

Under the terms of Sanders’ bill, employees could join in union by simple majority vote rather than being required to hold an election.

This would limit opportunities for employers to interfere in the process with threats of retaliation, mandatory anti-union meetings and so forth.

A 2017 study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) showed that 54 percent of workers are threatened with loss of their job if they vote to unionize.

Besides making it easier for workers to join in union, Sanders’s bill would protect people who work as temporary or contract workers, in what is known as “the gig economy.”

“It’s not a question of just jobs—it’s a question of what those jobs pay,” Sanders told reporter Danielle Paquette of The Washington Post.

“Many of the occupations that are growing in this country do not pay workers a living wage.”

According to EPI, an employee working under a union contract earns 13.2 percent more on average than someone with similar education, experience and responsibilities in a non-union job.

There is virtually no chance that Sanders’s bill will be enacted by the current Congress or signed into law by President Trump.

Sanders said that he is hoping at least to shift the conversation from the low unemployment rate to stagnant wages.

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There are several openings in the Hapag Lloyd fleet for permanent chief mates. If you are interested, please apply online.

The link for the application is posted at: and is listed as “Chief Mate Hapag Lloyd.”

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Members of the International Ship Masters Association Lodge #3 will be joined this Friday by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Coast Guard, the Chicago Police Marine Unit, the Chicago Fire Department Marine Unit, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the greater Chicago Recreational Boating Community to celebrate National Maritime Day on Friday, May 18, at 1100 at at Navy Pier.

A wreath in honor of seafarers will be blessed and laid upon the waters adjacent to Navy Pier from aboard the Shoreline Sightseeing vessel MV CAP STREETER.

Following the wreath-laying, all attending vessels will pass by the MV CAP STREETER to participate in the Blessing of the Fleet.

The public is invited to view this colorful and free ceremony commencing at 1100 at Navy Pier’s new Wave Wall on the South Dock.

The honorary wreath-laying and playing of “Taps” can be seen and heard from Navy Pier on the dock or on the water.

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All MM&P union halls, the MM&P Plan Office, the MM&P Federal Credit Union and MM&P headquarters will be closed on Monday, May 28, for Memorial Day.

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The contributions of American merchant mariners will be celebrated during the month of May at Maritime Day ceremonies around the country.

In San Pedro, Calif., the American Merchant Marine Veterans Memorial Committee will begin the day with a service at the American Merchant Marine Veterans Memorial (Harbor Ave. and 6th Street, San Pedro) followed by a luncheon at the Ports O’Call Restaurant (Berth 76).

There is free parking at the restaurant, which is located at 1200 Nagoya Way, San Pedro, with free transportation provided by the San Pedro Trolley between Ports O’Call and the Memorial from 1000 to 1300.

The Memorial is maintained by the committee and supported by your donations and by advertisements in the National Maritime Day program book.

Your support is extremely important. The deadline for placing an ad is May 7. Reservations are required for the luncheon.

You can reserve a seat or a table for lunch, book advertising space and donate, at:

If you have any questions, please contact Jerry Aspland: or by phone or fax to: 714-968-4409.

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MITAGS-PMI is interested in receiving photo submissions from MM&P members for use on the official MITAGS-PMI social media platform.

The goal is to document members’ voyages. As suggestions, photos can be of events and sights onboard, crewmembers at work or scenic locations.

If you are interested in sharing photos, please send them with caption information to or

Be sure to tell us whether you would like to be credited for the photo.

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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 Amanda Meadows, Admissions Coordinator, toll-free at 866-656-5568 or by e-mail:

Why not try our on-line calendar to register for class:

For Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) processing, MMC problem resolution advice, STCW compliance and VA GI-Bill questions, contact MITAGS-PMI Student/Instructional Services Manager Jennifer Pitzen at 206-739-0720 (direct line); (888) 893-7829 (toll free); or by e-mail:

Please include your Mariner Reference Number, date of birth and the last four digits of your social security number in all emails.

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 – 8/27/18, 10/15/18

AIS-1 – Automatic Identifications Systems Orientation: 5/23/18, 8/29/18

ARPA-OIC – Automated Radar Plotting Aids: 9/25/18

AZIPOD 2-Day – 5/21/18, 10/15/18

BRM-35 – Bridge Resource Management: 6/18/18, 9/24/18, 10/29/18

BRMP –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 5/21/18, 7/16/18, 12/19/18

BRMP-EMR –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots with Emergency Shiphandling: **Now included in BRMP-Refresher**

BRMP-Refresher – 5/23/18, 7/18/18, 9/11/18

BT – Basic Safety Training: 8/13/18, 10/22/18

BT-Revalidation (2-day) (Must have 1 year of sea service in last 5 years) – 6/18/18, 7/31/18, 8/27/18, 9/26/18, 10/31/18, 12/18/18

BT-Refresher (3-day) – 7/30/18, 9/26/18, 12/17/18

CHS-OIC – Cargo Handling Basic: Contact Admissions

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

ADVSTB-CMM – Advanced Stability: 6/11/18, 7/30/18, 9/24/18, 12/10/18

ADVWX-CMM – Advanced Meteorology: 6/4/18, 8/6/18, 9/17/18, 12/3/18

CHS-CMM – Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 10/1/18

CM-OPS 1 – Chief Mate Operations – Week 1: 6/4/18, 8/6/18, 10/1/18

CM-OPS 2 Maersk – Chief Mate Operations II Maersk Specific: 6/11/18, 8/13/18, 10/8/18

ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display Information Systems: 6/25/18, 8/13/18, 11/12/18

LMS – Leadership and Managerial Skills (Management Level – Formerly MCL-CMM): 6/18/18, 8/20/18, 11/26/18

MPP-CMM – Marine Propulsion Plants: 10/15/18

SEC-APPS – Practical Defense Tactics: 10/1/18

SHMGT-CMM- Ship Management (2 weeks): 10/29/18

SHS-ADV-I-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 6/4/18, 6/18/18, 7/16/18, 7/30/18, 8/13/18, 9/10/18, 10/1/18, 11/5/18, 11/26/18

SHS-ADV-II-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 6/11/18, 6/25/18, 7/23/18, 8/6/18, 8/20/18, 9/17/18, 10/8/18, 11/12/18, 12/3/18

**SHS-ADV-I & II now approved to include SAR-CMM assessments at MITAGS effective immediately**

VPEN-CMM – Voyage Planning & Electronic Navigation: 10/22/18

WKP-CMM – Advanced Watchkeeping: 9/10/18

CNAV-OIC – Celestial Navigation: Contact Admissions

CONT PLNG – Contingency Planning Workshop: Not currently scheduled

CRISIS-COMMS – Crisis Communications: Not currently scheduled

CRSMGT – Crisis Management and Human Behavior – Not currently scheduled

CDMGT – Crowd Management – Not currently scheduled

CSE – Confined Space Entry: 7/23/18

CSE-AWR – Confined Space Entry Awareness: 5/24/18, 7/26/18

DDE – Great Lakes: 6/4/18

DPA – Contact Admissions

ECDIS for Pilots – 5/24/18, 8/27/18, 12/17/18

ERM – Engine Resource Management: 11/26/18

FF-BADV – Fire Fighting Combined Basic & Advanced: 8/13/18, 10/22/18

FF-ADV-Rev (1-day) (Must have 1 year of sea service in last 5 years) – Advanced Fire Fighting Revalidation: 6/20/18, 8/2/18, 8/29/18, 9/25/18, 10/30/18

FF-ADV-REF (2-day) – Advanced Fire Fighting Refresher: 7/28/18, 9/29/18, 12/15/18

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep, & Medications: 9/11/18

GL-Pilot – Great Lakes Pilotage Familiarization: Contact Admissions

GMDSS – Global Maritime Distress and Safety System: Contact Admissions

HAZ – Hazardous Materials (5 day): 5/21/18, 8/20/18, 12/10/18

IEN – Integrated Electronic Navigation – Not currently scheduled

LAP – 7/9/18, 9/17/18

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

LAP-ORG3rd – License Advancement Program for Original 3rd Mate, Oceans, Any Gross
Ton License: Contact Admissions

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 9/12/18

LNG-TPIC – 12/3/18

LTS –Leadership and Teamworking Skills (Formerly MCL-OIC): 5/21/18

MEECE – Management of Electrical and Electronic Control Equipment (Assessments not included): 7/16/18, 12/3/18

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge: 7/9/18, 10/8/18, 11/26/18

MED-PIC-REF– Medical Person in Charge Refresher: 6/25/18, 8/20/18, 9/17/18

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 10/8/18, 11/26/18

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testinng: 6/21/18, 7/14/18, 8/30/18, 9/24/18, 10/13/18, 10/29/18, 12/1/18, 12/21/18

MSA –Maritime Security Awareness: Not currently scheduled

[MSC – Military Sealift Command Courses]

MSC-CBRD-1 – Military Sealift Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense Orientation (Basic): 5/24/18, 6/8/18, 8/8/18, 9/12/18, 11/14/18

MSC-DC – Military Sealift Command Damage Control: 5/22/18, 6/6/18, 8/6/18, 9/13/18, 11/12/18

*MSC-ENVPRO – 6/3/18, 8/5/18, 11/4/18

*MSC-FF-HELO – 6/4/18, 8/13/18, 10/31/18

MSC-SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualifications: 6/11/18, 7/16/18, 8/12/18, 9/17/18, 11/5/18

*MSC-Security Watch Basic – 6/9/18, 8/9/18, 9/15/18, 11/2/18

*MSC-Security Watch Advanced – 6/10/18, 7/15/18, 8/10/18, 9/16/18, 11/3/18

*MSC-Ship’s Reaction Force – 6/15/18, 7/20/18, 8/17/18, 9/21/18, 11/9/18

NSAP-MMP – Navigational Skills Assessment Program-MM&P – 6/25/18, 6/27/18, 7/31/18, 8/2/18, 8/28/18, 8/30/18, 11/12/18, 11/14/18, 12/17/18, 12/19/18

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 9/24/18

ROR-1N – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 6/6/18, 6/20/18, 7/11/18, 7/25/18, 8/8/18, 8/22/18, 10/3/18, 10/17/18, 10/31/18, 11/7/18, 11/14/18, 11/28/18, 12/5/18, 12/12/18, 12/19/18

ROU-OIC – Radar Observer Program – Unlimited: 9/17/18

SAR – Search & Rescue – (Now with OIC and CMM assessments): 12/17/18

SHS-BAS-OIC – Basic Shiphandling: 8/27/18, 10/22/18

SHS-EMR5 – Emergency Shiphandling-5 Day – 5/21/18, 7/23/18, 9/24/18, 10/29/18, 12/10/18

SMS – Not currently scheduled

STB-OIC – Ship Construction and Basic Stability: Contact Admissions

TCNAV/CO – Terrestrial Navigation and Compasses: Contact Admissions

TPIC – Tankerman Person in Charge: 7/9/18

TRAC-TUG-2: Contact Admissions

TTT – Not currently scheduled

VPDSD – Vessel Personnel with Designated Security Duties: Contact Admissions

VSO – Vessel Security Officer: Contact Admissions

WKP-OIC – Watchkeeping (Operational Level): Contact Admissions

WX-OIC –Meteorology (Operational Level): Contact Admissions

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Spring 2018

For registration, please contact our registrar, Mary McGhee, at 206.838.1126 or You can also view our schedule and enroll online at

May 2018
21-23 Search and Rescue
21-25 ECDIS
23-25 24-Hour Hazwoper
25th Vessel Personnel w/ Designated Security Duties (VPDSD)
29-31 Security Officer – Vessel, Company, and Facility
29-1 Advanced Firefighting

June 2018
2-4 Basic Training Revalidation (no class on Sunday)
4th Radar Renewal
4th Leadership & Teamworking Skills
4-8 Medical Care Provider
4-15 Medical Person-In-Charge
5-8 ARPA
11-14 Advanced Firefighting
11-22 GMDSS
11-22 Watchkeeping (Operational Level)
18-22 Engine Resource Management
22-23 Basic Training Revalidation
22-24 Basic Training Refresher
25th Advanced Firefighting Revalidation
25-29 Meteorology (Operational Level)
25-29 Leadership & Managerial Skills
26th Medical DOT

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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 © 2018. Articles can be reprinted without prior permission if credit is given to The MM&P WheelhouseWeekly. For subscriptions, address changes or messages to the editor or to MM&P headquarters, e-mail Back issues of The Weekly are posted on