Wheelhouse Weekly – May 28, 2013


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

Volume 17 . . . Number 22. . . May 28, 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.


Supporters of the American Merchant Marine called for a renewed focus on the country’s merchant fleet during the National Maritime Day Ceremony in Washington, D.C. “On Maritime Day, we should not only remember the past, but consider what we can do to reinvigorate the U.S.-flag fleet and rebuild U.S. shipbuilding capacity,” said Congressman John Garamendi (D-Calif.), a speaker at the ceremony, which was held at Maritime Administration (MARAD) headquarters inside the Department of Transportation Building. “When less than one and a half percent of the 78 percent of U.S. exports carried by ship travel on U.S.-flag vessels, we have a problem,” he said.

Garamendi criticized the Obama administration’s proposal to change the PL 480 Food for Peace Program into a voucher program. “The Jones Act is under attack. Cargo preference is being whittled away. Government agencies treat cargo preference as a hindrance. [The Administration proposal to end Food for Peace] will kill American jobs on land and on sea and further reduce the number of ships in the U.S.-flag fleet,” he said.

SUNY Maritime College President Rear Adm. Wendi Carpenter was the official National Maritime Day honoree. She received the Merchant Marine Medal for Outstanding Achievement for her support of relief efforts following Hurricane Sandy. In the aftermath of the storm, Carpenter arranged for 600 relief workers to be boarded and fed on the TS EMPIRE STATE.

“I’m honored to be here to recognize the sacrifices of hundreds of thousands of mariners, many of whom have given their lives over the years,” Carpenter said. “Especially during national disasters such as Sandy, a strong merchant marine is essential to our country,” she said, adding, “I personally believe that maritime is generally under-appreciated by policy-makers and historians.”

Carpenter is the first woman to head one of America’s maritime colleges. She was introduced by Deputy Maritime Administrator Chip Jaenichen, who will soon take over the leadership of MARAD on an acting basis.

MM&P was represented at the ceremony by International President Don Marcus, International Secretary-Treasurer Steve Werse, Atlantic Ports Vice President Don Josberger and MIRAID President C. James Patti.


During an oversight hearing on the state of the U.S.-flag merchant marine, a number of members of Congress strongly criticized the administration’s proposal to end the PL 480 Food for Peace Program and replace it with a program that gives away cash instead of U.S.-produced food commodities. Under existing law, at least 50 percent of the U.S. food aid sent overseas under the PL 480 Program is transported by U.S.-flag vessels.  The hearing was held by the House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee.

Subcommittee Chair Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) set the tone, leading off the hearing by telling the administration witnesses: “Since 1954, the Food for Peace program has provided agricultural commodities grown by U.S. farmers and transported by U.S. mariners on U.S.-flagged vessels to those threatened by starvation throughout the world. The President’s restructuring of Food for Peace will eliminate a vital program for our farmers, put U.S. mariners out of work, and undermine our national security by cutting the domestic sealift capacity on which our military depends. I hope my colleagues will join me in rejecting this misguided proposal.”

Hunter was joined in opposition to the proposal by the Subcommittee’s Ranking Democrat Congressman John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings and Congresswoman Janice Hahn (D-Calif.). MM&P, MIRAID and others in our industry are fighting the administration’s proposal under the auspices of the USA Maritime Coalition ( Hunter, Garamendi, Cummings and Hahn all voiced support for maintaining the program in its current form and doing more to improve and enhance the programs that support U.S.-flag shipping.

“I hope to see a renewed commitment to programs like Title XI that help to grow jobs, expand our economy, and maintain critical shipyard industrial capacity,” Hunter said. “I also hope the new leadership at MARAD and DOT will work closely with industry to reduce Jones Act waivers. Finally, I hope they will stand up when other federal agencies seek to flaunt our cargo preference laws and use the authority Congress gave them to stop them in their tracks.”

The subcommittee heard testimony from: Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association President Mike Jewell; Seafarers International Union Executive Vice President Augustin Tellez; DOT Deputy Secretary John Porcari; Gen. William M. Fraser, Commander, U.S. Transportation Command; NASSCO CEO Fred Harris; and Kirby Corporation Chairman and CEO Joseph Pyne.


A coalition of maritime and transportation labor organizations, including MM&P and the International Longshoremen’s Association, have called on Congress to reject the administration’s proposal to replace the PL 480 Food for Peace Program with a cash-give-away program. Under the Food for Peace Program, U.S. agricultural commodities are given to those in need around the world to address hunger, and a portion of the cargoes are shipped on U.S.-flag vessels. Under the administration’s proposal, American dollars instead of American agricultural commodities would be given away, and U.S.-flag vessels would no longer be involved in the program.

The labor organizations warned that the administration’s proposal and the resulting loss of cargo for U.S.-flag vessels “will diminish our nation’s sealift capability and result in the loss of American jobs.” To read the labor unions’ statement in its entirety, go to and click on “Breaking News.”


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should quickly move forward with a final ruling on regulations to implement the international Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW), say the nation’s maritime unions and U.S.-flag shipping companies. The risks of inaction include disruption of the operation of U.S.-flag ships and their possible detention by Port State Control officials in foreign ports for non-compliance with international standards.

In a May 15 letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, MM&P and the rest of the group said the rulemaking, which has been under review at a DHS departmental level “for a considerable length of time,” has the strong support of the entire American merchant marine, including labor, management and major training facilities.

“The rulemaking would adjust U.S. regulations to coincide with the latest STCW amendments,” the group told Napolitano. “Please note that the amendments strengthen the convention. While the initial convention could be described as bringing nations with low standards up to the level of developed nations, the current amendments are described as bringing the world’s standards to a higher level. As a leading maritime nation, the U.S. must be a party to this increase in professionalism.”

The latest amendments improve measures to prevent fraud and contain new certification requirements for able seafarers, new requirements for training in electronic charts and systems, new requirements for security training and new training guidance for personnel serving in polar waters. The requirements mean adjustments must be made in some training curricula and that U.S. seafarers will have to take new courses.

Since all course curricula must be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard under the rules currently being reviewed by DHS, the industry cannot move forward unless the agency acts. “It is essential that these rules be published and implemented,” the signatories to the letter state. “These new training standards will increase the competency and efficiency of the workforce and result in fewer costly maritime casualties that often damage the environment.” 

The rules will align U.S. standards with the STCW convention that has been signed by 135 nations, including the United States. All signatory nations are bound to apply the provisions of the convention to all ships in international trade under their flag and to all ships entering their ports. Many of the new requirements come into force as early as next January. The group said it “respectfully requests that [Napolitano] direct her office to expedite the clearance of the rulemaking.”


A Senate committee last Wednesday approved President Obama’s five nominees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in a party-line vote. This development shifts the confirmation battle to the full Senate. The status of the NLRB has hovered in a gray area since the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in January that Obama had erred by appointing three board members while the Senate was on break in January of last year.

The Constitution allows recess appointments but does not specify how many days the Senate must be on break before they can be made. Republicans argue that they specifically held pro forma sessions to prevent President Obama from making any recess appointments.

Although the NLRB has not had five confirmed members since 2003, the board is allowed to issue decisions with a quorum of three. The NLRB has said it intends to petition the Supreme Court to review the D.C. Circuit Court ruling. If the Supreme Court rejects the case, the decision would stand, creating a situation in which hundreds of NLRB decisions taken over the course of the past year would be nullified.

Last month, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved a bill to prohibit the NLRB from taking any actions that require a panel quorum until the Supreme Court issues a decision on the recess appointments.


Labor unions in Colombia are engaged in an often violent uphill struggle as they seek to win better working conditions and higher pay for their members. According to Colombia’s umbrella labor organization, CUT, in 2012, 431 labor union leaders were threatened, 90 were kidnapped and 20 were killed.

Colombia has one of the worst anti-union violence records in the world. Since 1986, over 2,900 labor union officials have been killed. Murder investigations by police frequently fail to uncover the guilty party. 

The U.S government and labor groups have been attempting to win more substantial protections for union leaders. In 2011, as part of the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, the government of Colombia committed to increased efforts to protect journalists, human rights workers and labor union members and officials. But in 2012, the year that the Free Trade Agreement took effect, a spike in violence against unionists occurred. “It’s a mistake to think this is a problem of the past,” says Luciano Sanin, director of Colombia’s National Labor Academy. “In this country, unions are still not accorded a role in the democratic process.”


There will be a memorial service for Capt. Dave Goff on June 2 aboard the Liberty Ship SS JOHN BROWN. Dave was an active volunteer member of the crew of the SS JOHN BROWN for many years. The ceremony is scheduled for 1000 on Sunday, June 2.  Everyone who knew Dave is encouraged to attend..


Union members can get a $100 rebate when they purchase a new vehicle with the help of Union Plus. They can also take advantage of special deals on auto insurance and repair services, many of them offered by unionized companies and service providers. Union plus auto buying services include:          up-front pricing from local dealers in three minutes online; a $100 rebate on purchases of new union-made cars; a $200 rebate for purchases of new union-made, EPA-certified green cars; used car buying services through Hertz and Enterprise.

Insurance policies offered through Union Plus Auto include: competitive group auto insurance rates (save an average of $559 on car insurance); driver education grants (up to $250 for a driver training course); deferred premiums (up to two months) during prolonged strikes or lockouts; plus 15 percent discounts on specialty insurance coverage for motorcycles, mobile homes, boats and ATVs; 5-10 percent savings on car service, including maintenance, parts and preventive maintenance.

And don’t forget the Union Plus Goodyear discount difference: save 10 percent off all Goodyear tires or 5 percent off sale tires at company-owned Goodyear, Just Tires or Allied Tires & Service stores. Many Goodyear tires are made by members of the United Steelworkers of America and the United Food and Commercial Workers.

For more information on discounted products and services for union members, go to


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: 8/13/13, 9/24/13

AZIPOD (2-DAY) for Pilots: 7/22/13

BRM – Bridge Resource Management: 8/28/13

BRMP – Bridge Resource Management for Pilots:  5/23/13, 8/19/13, 9/23/13

BST – Basic Safety Training: 6/24/13, 8/12/13

CONSTB – Ship Construction and Basic Stability: 7/29/13

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

CMM-ADVWX – Advanced Meteorology: 6/17/13, 9/23/13

CMM-ADVNAV – Advanced Navigation (=ECDIS & VPEN): 6/3/13, 9/16/13

CMM-ADVSTB – Advanced Stability: 8/5/13

CMM-CHS – Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 8/12/13

CMM-ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display Information System: 7/29/13

CMM-MPP – Marine Propulsion Plants: 8/26/13

CMM-SHMGT – Ship Management (2 weeks): 7/22/13

CMM-SHS-ADV-I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 6/24/13, 7/29/13, 9/9/13, 9/23/13

CMM-SHS-ADV-I I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 6/17/13, 8/5/13, 9/16/13

CMM-WKP – Advanced Watchkeeping: 6/24/13

ENVIRO-Regs Permit – Environmental Regulations Permit: 3/5/2013, 5/23/13

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

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep and Medications:  8/26/13

FF-BADV – Combined Basic and Advanced Fire Fighting: 6/24/13, 7/22/13, 8/12/13

GMDSS – Global Maritime Distress and Safety System: 7/8/13, 8/19/13

HAZ – Hazardous Materials (5 day): 6/24/13, 9/16/13

LAP – License Advancement Program for C/Mate & Master: 9/23/13

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 7/24/13, 9/25/13

MCL – Management, Communications and Leadership: 8/19/13

MCL OICNW –Management, Communications, and Leadership OICNW level: 9/3/13

MLC – Maritime Labor Convention: 7/22/13

MEDIA-RSP – Media Response Workshop:  7/26/13

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge: 6/10/13, 7/8/13, 9/9/13

MED-PIC -R– Medical Person in Charge Refresher: 7/29/13

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 6/10/13, 7/8/13, 9/9/13

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing: 6/15/13, 6/29/13, 7/13/13, 7/28/13, 8/17/13, 9/14/13

MSC -SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualification: 6/3/13, 8/19/13

MSC-DC – Military Sealift Command Damage Control (4 Evenings): 6/3/13, 8/19/13

MSC-CBRD-1 – Military Sealift Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense Orientation (Basic): 6/7/13, 8/23/13

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 5/22/13, 6/5/13, 6/19/13, 6/26/13, 7/10/13, 7/24/13, 8/1/13, 8/14/13, 8/28/13, 9/11/13, 9/18/13

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 8/12/13, 9/23/13

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

SEC-VSO – Vessel Security Officer: 7/22/13, 9/4/13

SHS-BAS – Basic Shiphandling: 6/24/13, 8/12/13

SHS-EMR5 – Emergency Shiphandling: 8/19/13

SHS-ESH-BRMP3 – Emergency Shiphandling and Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 5/20/13, 7/24/13

TCNAV/CO – Terrestrial Navigation and Compasses: 7/8/13

TPIC – Tankerman Person in Charge:  8/26/13

WX-BAS – Basic Meteorology: 7/29/13, 9/16/13

… 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.

May 2013

28-31     ARPA
29-31     Vessel Security Officer

June 2013

3-7          ECDIS
3-14       GMDSS
3-21       Terrestrial and Coastal Navigation
10th       Radar Renewal
10th       Med DOT
17-21     Tankerman PIC
24-28     Radar Observer Unlimited
24-28     Medical Care Provider

July 2013

8th         Radar Renewal
8th         Flashing Light Exam
9-12       ARPA
15-19     ECDIS
15-26     GMDSS
22-26     Bridge Resource Management w/ Simulation
29-2       Medical Care Provider

August 2013

5-16       Celestial Navigation
6-7          Successful Safety Management Systems Workshop
12th       Radar Renewal 
12th       Med DOT
12-23     GMDSS
19-23     Medical Care Provider
20th       RFPNW Assessments
26-30     ECDIS
26-30     Basic Cargo Handling and Stowage