Wheelhouse Weekly – November 07, 2002

November 7th 2002


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

Volume 6 . . . . . Number 45. . . . . November 7, 2002






The US Navy has disclosed that at least two MM&P-crewed Military Sealift Command LMSR cargo vessels have departed US ports in recent days. The USNS BOB HOPE and USNS FISHER have both sailed for unknown destinations as part of the repositioning of forces and equipment in support of the “war on terror”.

Both ships have seven decks capable of carrying tanks, helicopters and other heavy armor. Over 900 feet long and 100 feet wide each vessel has a capacity of 380,000 square feet ­ equivalent of eight soccer fields.

According to the MSC, the ships are capable of carrying 58 Abrams battle tanks, 48 armored track vehicles, 900 other trucks as well as support materials like bridge sections. The deployment of the BOB HOPE and FISHER comes as the aircraft carrier USS CONSTELLATION and its Battle Group set sail from San Diego last weekend.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



It is anticipated that merchant marine personnel will be one of the key assets needed to conduct an operation in the Middle East. The Maritime Administration and the Military Sealift Command are currently focusing on deployment needs.

Further info is available by contacting Assistant to the President Mike Rodriguez at MM&P HQ at phone: 410-850-8700 ext. 23; Email: Info is also available on the Wheelhouse Weekly page of the MM&P website under “Reminders“.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



With maritime security remaining a vital issue in the US and soon to be revisited at the International Maritime Organization’s December meeting, mariners should be aware that security info is available via the Internet.

The latest Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) available in Adobe Acrobat PDF format is circular 9-02 “Guidelines for Port Security Committees, and Port Security Plans For US Ports” and, more importantly, 10-02 “Security Guidelines For Vessels”. The latest hard copy issued, but not yet available on the Internet, is titled “Recommended Security Guidelines for Waterfront Facilities.

The 9-02 and 10-02 NVICs can be downloaded via accessing: and selecting “2000s” on the left and then clicking on the PDF icon on the right next to the 9-02 and 10-02 subject title. Read these NVICs carefully. This information is being supplied to the world at the IMO meeting in December.

Most of the responsibilities listed under 10-02 will most likely be assigned as collateral duties to a deck officer. With the existing workload licensed deck officers currently have, additional duties will make the LDOs job much more difficult and time-consuming.

Richard Plant, Director of Special Projects, has requested that the USCG IMO Delegation call for all port state authorities to review their certification of inspection (COI) manning requirements. In doing so, they should consider the present and future workloads that these regulations will impose on the crew.

Due consideration should also be given to whether additional unlicensed crew or LDOs are needed aboard foreign and domestic vessels to successfully complete the many tasks mandated under these new security proposals.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Despite tens of millions of dollars already spent, a panel of National Security experts released a report last week concluding that US seaports are still vulnerable to a major terrorist attack. Over 200 million containers move through top American seaports annually and only a small number of ships and containers are actually inspected.

Some progress has been made. Over 750 importers and transportation providers have signed up for the US Customs Trade Partnership against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and over half of this country’s 20 largest ports have signed up for US Custom’s Container Security Initiative (CSI).

The C-TPAT initiative has resulted in thousands of foreign companies making their supply chain more secure from the point of manufacture and loading of the container to its final US destination. Businesses that have signed up and become C-TPAT compliant will be given “fast-lane,” processing by Customs.

The CSI initiative engages the cooperation of foreign customs and foreign ports working with US Customs to profile containers and identify high risk cargo before loading, by looking at factors including shipper, country of origination, route, contents, etc. This way if a C-TPAT compliant container enters a port, it will be able to move through quicker because all it’s info is already known.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The US Coast Guard has established a temporary moving security zone of 500 yards surrounding tank ships while within the waters of Puget Sound, WA. All vessels within 500 yards of a tank ship shall operate at minimum speed and shall proceed as directed by the Official Patrol.

No vessel is allowed within 100 yards of a tank ship unless authorized. Vessels requesting to pass within 100 yards of a tank ship shall contact the Official Patrol or tankship master on VHF-FM channel 16 or 13.

The Official Patrol will consist of a USCG patrol, or a General Authority Washington Peace Officer, Limited Authority Washington Peace Officer, Specially Commissioned Washington Peace Officer, or the tank ship master.

This security zone became effective on October 15 and will remain at least until April 15, 2003 unless cancelled sooner by the Captain of the Port. There is a civil penalty of not more than $27,500 for each violation.

If such a violation is willful, violators are subject to a criminal penalty of not more that $250,000 and/or six years imprisonment. This criminal penalty is classified as a class “D” felony under federal law.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The ICC International Maritime Bureau reports that a significant increase in the number of piracy attacks on the world’s oceans has occurred in 2002. In the first nine months of this year, 271 incidents occurred as opposed to 253 for the corresponding period last year.

Many of these are violent attacks where crewmembers are abducted or injured and cargo worth millions of dollars is stolen. The report lists piracy prone areas in SE Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, Africa, Red Sea, South and Central America and the Caribbean waters. So far this year, Indonesia has the highest number of attacks with 72.

The report also draws attention to new initiatives designed to combat piracy. It highlights a unique preventive system called “Secure-Ship” which is a 9,000-volt, non-lethal, electrifying fence surrounding the ship that has been specially adapted for maritime use.

The fence uses a 9,000-volt pulse to deter boarding attempts. If the fence is tampered with, an alarm is triggered, activating floodlights and a siren.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly





The Board of Trustees, based on recommendations by the Cost Containment Committee, adopted changes to the Health & Benefit Plan. The following changes will become effective January 1, 2003:

Annual Deductible

The current annual deductible of $150/$300 will be raised to $250/$500.

Out-of-Pocket Maximum

The current out of pocket maximum of $2000 will be raised to $3000.

Dental Reimbursement Levels

  • The Plan payment to in-network dental providers will go from 90% to 80%.
  • The Plan payment for out-of-network providers will go from 80% of UCR to 70% of UCR.

Prescription Drug Program

Mail order drugs will be subject to a 20% co-pay for all single source brand name and generic drugs with a maximum out of pocket, per prescription, of $75.

For brand name drugs where the generic equivalent is available, the member will be responsible for paying the total cost of the difference between the brand name and the generic drug. The Plan will then pay 80% of the cost of the generic and the member will be responsible for the 20% up to a per prescription maximum of $75.

The Plan has also removed the mandatory mail order provision. This means that any prescription, regardless of the number of refills, can be obtained at a retail level but will be limited to a 30-day supply. However, obtaining maintenance medications through the mail order program may still be less expensive to you.

A synopsis of these changes and additional changes effective April 1, 2003 will appear in the next MM&P Master, Mate & Pilot newspaper. The Plan Office will also be mailing a summary of all changes, with examples, to Health & Benefit Plan participants by mid-November.



Don’t forget to notify the Plan office whenever you move or have a change of address. There are a number of important mailings scheduled for the next few months and we would like to keep all members well informed. You can fax your address changes to the Plan Office at 410-850-8655 or you can email them to the Plan Office at



The brochures from Delta Dental have been slightly delayed so that benefit changes, approved at the October 1-2 meetings, and effective January 1, 2003 could be included in the brochure.

If you or your dentist have any questions, you can contact Delta Dental at 1-800-932-0783 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

Plan members are identified by social security number and the Group Plan number for MM&P which is 7117.

Billing for both in and out of network claims should be submitted on standard dental billing forms and sent directly to Delta at

Delta Dental of Pennsylvania One Delta Drive Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

You can locate participating providers on-line at Masters, Mates and Pilots members have access to providers in all of the Delta networks. You can call Delta at 1-800-932-0783.

More detailed information may be found below in the “Reminders” section.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



At the recent SOCP meeting held at the Maine Maritime Academy, MM&P’s Capt. Charles Pillsbury led a panel on the SOCP Mariner Administrative Card (MAC card). Supporting the discussion were demonstrations by Northrop Grumman IT and Special Security, Inc. It is envisioned that a MAC card will facilitate mariner identification and prevention of fraudulent training record issues.

Another highlight of the meeting was the workshop led by Capt. Ernie Fink, USCG, National Maritime Center, on the topic of re-engineering the Marine Licensing and Documentation process. The workshop was designed to identify common issues and concerns experienced by mariners at Regional Examine Centers and to develop resolutions for an improved process.

The meeting also included the latest info on the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping’s Working Group of the National Mariner Recruitment and Retention Conference; Ship Inspections; Maritime Workstations and Paperless Systems; Maritime Security; Cargo Container Security Solutions; Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s Training Ship Virtual Cruise and the latest on ballast water technology testing.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Class Openings

Plenty of seats remain in Advanced Fire Fighting, BST, Computer, and GMDSS classes between now and the end of the year.

New 2-day Damage Control Class on November 14-15 is wide open.

Basic Shiphandling class beginning December 2 still has 3 open slots.


DOT Training for D&A

The 1-day course satisfying the new DOT requirements for Breath Alcohol Technician (BAT) and Screening Test Technician (STT) will be presented at MITAGS:

  • November 9
  • December 14, 17, 18, 19, and 20

Contact admissions for seat availability.

One-day classes at the Halls are also scheduled for:

  • Boston (November 18)
  • Jacksonville (November 20)
  • New Orleans (November 22); and
  • New York (December 3-4).

To maximize resources, MITAGS is focusing on providing the 1-day training east of the Mississippi and PMI is developing a schedule with coverage in the West. Seats should be arranged through the respective halls.


Seasonal Reminders

Students planning to attend MITAGS around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays need to book airline tickets as soon as possible. Reduced availability and higher prices are already evident. Also, with the temperature now starting to drop, Small Arms attendees need to remember that a day-and-a-half will be spent on an outdoor range.


Schedules, Course Info & Registration

You can now check schedules, review detailed course descriptions and register on-line or contact Admissions at or 443-989-3226.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Class Openings through November:

  • 11/11-15: ARPA
  • 11/15-22: Med 1/MPIC
  • 11/18-19: MAXIMO
  • 11/18-22: RADAR

For the latest up-to-date info on class schedules, visit the PMI website at


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



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MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly

~ Reminders ~




MM&P International President Capt. Tim Brown and Executive Asst. Mike Rodriguez recently attended a meeting with the US Coast Guard, the Maritime Administration and the Military Sealift Command focusing on the assets needed to conduct an operation in the Middle East.

Deployment and time frames are still being discussed. Below is what the Union knows as of this time.

It is anticipated that merchant marine personnel will be key to this operation. MM&P, MEBA and AMO have a cooperative agreement so that if any of the unions’ contracted vessels need personnel and the contracted union cannot supply licensed marine officers, one of the other unions will staff these billets.

Within the next few days, MM&P will be sending a letter to all MM&P applicants, to retirees who retired within the last 3 years, and retirees that retired within the last 4-7 years. The purpose of the letter will be to ascertain your current address, the validity of your license, whether or not you have STCW-95, and other personnel data.

There are plans underway to provide a fast track STCW-95 course for those needing it as well as providing assistance in revalidating your license if it has expired.

In the case of retirees, you will be able to return to covered employment without the fear of exceeding the earnings limitation for health care. However, no additional pension credits will be provided for any service that you may render to your country during this emergency employment.

Since Desert Shield/Desert Storm, American Merchant Mariners have been provided with re-employment rights. These rights will insure that your present employer will give your current employment position back when you return from service with the MM&P in this type of deployment.

More details will be forthcoming in future issues of the Wheelhouse Weekly as they become known.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly




This is a reminder that effective October 1, 2002, the MM&P Plan’s contract with Prudential Dental expired. Prudential was purchased by Aetna/US HealthCare in 2001 and could no longer offer the Plan the same type of fee-for-service arrangement as before.

In order to continue to offer Plan Participants an in-network dental benefit option, the Plan reviewed proposals from organizations that provide network dental services. After review, the Trustees approved a contract with Delta Dental, the largest provider of dental services in the US.

The Delta Dental Claims Processing Center in Mechanicsburg, PA, will handle claims administration for all MM&P eligible participants and dependents. This includes claims submitted by out of network dentists as well as those who are Delta Dental providers.

Plan participants who choose to go to a contracted provider will pay 10 percent of the contracted amount and the Plan will pay 90 percent. Participants will have access to all Delta providers in the Delta Premier Network option that includes over 133,000 dentists nationwide.



~ Where Does My Dentist Submit My Claims?

Effective October 1, 2002, all dental claims with dates of service on or after October 1, 2002, from both in and out-of-network providers, should be sent directly to: Delta Dental, One Delta Drive, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055-6999. Participants will receive a claim form in the mailing sent out by the Plan Office on August 11. Your dentist can copy this form and use it to submit all dental claims incurred on or after October 1, 2002.

~ How Do I Find A Delta Dentist?

You can locate participating dentists in your area in two ways. You can call 1-800-932-0783 from 8 AM to 8 PM Eastern Time, Monday-Friday, or you can sign on to the Delta website at Once you have signed on to the website, key on the bar marked “Pennsylvania”. (MM&P Plan members are enrolled in the Delta Premier Option through Delta Dental of Penn.) Next enter the search criteria to find participating Delta dentists in your area or enter your own dentist’s name to find out if he/she participates with the Premier network.



Delta Dental will coordinate with the Plan Office to transition all billing for “work in process”. This means that all root canals, orthodontia work and other staged procedures that are not completed under the old arrangement will be carried over and the remaining balance billing, for work performed on or after October 1, 2002 will be processed by Delta Dental.

It is important to remember that all work that has been pre-determined by Prudential/Aetna must be completed and billed with a billing date on or prior to September 30, 2002, in order to assure that your co-pay will remain the same as quoted in the initial pre-determination.

Any work started under the old Plan but billed for date of service on or after October 1, 2002 will be reimbursed according to whether the dentist is participating in the Delta Dental network. If your dentist is not a participating dentist, the balance billing will be paid at the out-of-network rate of 80 percent of the Plan’s UCR schedules.



All questions about any dental claims incurred on or after October 1, 2002, including claims submitted by out-of-network providers, should be directed to Delta Dental at 1-800-932-0783. You have been provided with a Delta claim form to forward to your dentist, however, your dentist may submit any standard dental billing form as long as the bill is sent directly to Delta at the above listed address.



Participants will be receiving a brochure in early October that will include a perforated generic identification card. This card lists the telephone number and the billing address for Delta. You are not required to carry an identification card because your social security number and birth date will identify you as an eligible participant in the Delta Dental Network.

It is important to remember that MM&P claims will be processed by Delta Dental of Pennsylvania. You or your dentist can access your eligibility by calling either the Plan Office or Delta Dental at 1-800-932-0783.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly




MM&P’s General Executive Board met on October 3-4. One item of particular note is that the Offshore Advisory Committee established quotas for admittance to the Offshore Membership Group.

Effective October 4, 2002, no member of any membership group, including the Offshore Unlicensed Membership Group, may transfer into the Offshore Licensed Membership Group without having been a member of the organization for at least as long as the length of time that the lowest applicant admitted into membership has in the organization.

Please see your local Offshore Vice President for additional information.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



MM&P has established a Fund to receive donations on behalf of Gisele Schmidt, the daughter of Brother Gary Schmidt. Gisele, who is 21, was rendered paralyzed as the result of a tragic auto accident in March.

Please Note: The fund is open only through December 31, 2002.

Contributions may be made payable to the:

Gisele Schmidt Fund c/o MM&P 700 Maritime Blvd. Linthicum Heights, MD 21090


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



A memorial fund has been established in the memory of recently deceased MM&P member Jerry Backman. Jerry shipped out of San Francisco and was 49-years old at the time of his tragic death as the result of an auto accident last month.

He will be affectionately remembered as a loyal union brother, outstanding licensed deck officer and a fine person. Jerry leaves a widow, a 22-year old daughter and a 15-year old son.

Donations on behalf of Jerry will be used to assist with the education of his children. The Backman family is privately managing the fund. They are most appreciative of all the messages expressing sympathy and the positive stories from his shipmates and friends.

Contributions can be sent to:

The Jerry B. Backman Memorial Fund c/o Bank of the West 2900 Railroad Avenue Pittsburg, CA 94565    

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Members are reminded that the Masters, Mates & Pilots Federal Credit Union is offering vehicle loans as low as 5.25 percent. Rates range from 5.25 to 6.99 percent for terms of 24 to 60 months. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a new, used or a refinanced vehicle.

These rates are also in effect for new or used recreational vehicles, motorcycles or boats. Limited funds available at this rate, certain terms and conditions apply.

MM&P Federal Credit Union membership is open to all MM&P members, to all MM&P, MITAGS, MIRAID and Plans staff, and to their immediate families.

Rates and terms of offer are subject to change. Call Kathy Klisavage, Credit Union Manager, toll free 1-800-382-7777 or Email for all the details.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly

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, broadcast worldwide via FEC marine telex andis posted on our web page.

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