Wheelhouse Weekly – November 21, 2002

November 21st 2002


– Bridging the Information Gap WithE-News You Can Use –

Volume6 . . . . . Number 47. . . . . November 21, 2002





The MM&P-crewed CSX Lines containership CSX DISCOVERY rescued fourpeople and a dog from the SUMMER HEAT, a 37-foot sailboat which had lostits mast and suffered engine failure in heavy seas about 60 miles northof the Bahamas this past Sunday.

The 700-foot CSX DISCOVERY was en route to Jacksonville from San Juanwhen she was contacted at 1330 hrs on Sunday by the USCG and requestedto divert from its course to go to the aid of the crippled craft.

The DISCOVERY located the sailboat at approximately 1615. With 20-footseas and 35-knot winds buffeting the area, the DISCOVERY’s crew knew theyhad little time to effect a rescue once the ship came alongside the sailboat.� The four rescued sailors were safely onboard by 1730. “They are in greatshape for what they have been through,”  said MM&P-member Capt.John Hess, the ship’s Master who supervised the recovery. MM&P membersC/M Robin Espinosa, 2/M Paul Goodhue, 3/M Kris Karandy and 3/M Paul McQuarriewere also instrumental in the rescue effort.

With the rescue completed, the DISCOVERY once again set her course forJacksonville. Upon their arrival on Monday morning, one of the rescuedsailors told a reporter that, The DISCOVERY’s crew was fantastic. Therescue was fantastic. Once onboard, they treated us like royalty.

The operation was coordinated by the USCG as part of the AMVER (AutomatedMutual-assistance VEssel Rescue) program which diverts the nearest participatingmerchant ship to assist a vessel in distress. Founded in the wake of theRMS TITANTIC disaster in 1912, today some 12,000 ships from 140 nationsparticipate in AMVER.

MM&PWheelhouse Weekly


Late last week, the Senate voted unanimously to pass legislation that wouldrequire a massive integration of federal, state, local and private lawenforcement in the nation’s seaports. The bill would also authorize moresecurity officers, more screening equipment, and the building of new securityinfrastructure at seaports.

Early Friday morning, the House of Representatives by voice vote passedthe bill. The measure is expected to be signed by the President withindays. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), the Chairman of the House Transportationand Infrastructure Committee, said he was pleased the new bill includedvirtually every measure that was in the House maritime security legislation(H.R. 3983).”This is one of the most important security bills Congresshas ever approved, Congressman Young said.

The Senate first passed the bill on Dec. 20, 2001, but a compromisewasn’t reached on the measure until Tuesday.
The bill requires the Secretary of Transportation to conduct an immediaterisk assessment for all vessels and facilities on or near the water. Itrequires the secretary to develop plans to deter incidents that might resultin significant loss of life, environmental damage, transportation disruptionor economic harm.

It also authorizes $90 million in research and development grants toencourage development equipment to inspect merchandise, detect nuclearmaterials, improve tags and seals on ships and mitigate the consequencesof terrorist attacks. Another $33 million is authorized to train and educatefederal, state and private personnel.

MM&PWheelhouse Weekly


Lindsay McLaughlin, legislative director for the International Longshoreand Warehouse Union, told the annual meeting of the National IndustrialTransportation League earlier this week that the recently announced technologyagreement between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association was a majorstep toward a contract settlement.

“My prediction is the two sides will come together and sign an agreementbefore the 80-day cooling-off period of the Taft-Hartley Act ends,” hetold the NIT League which represents many of the nation’s largest importersand exporters. The cooling-off period ends Dec. 27.

MM&PWheelhouse Weekly



The USCG and FCC are concerned that certain consumer electronics-gradeactive VHF/UHF marine television antennas are causing operational degradationin the performance of Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers.

This interference may be realized as a display of inaccurate positioninformation or a complete loss of GPS receiver acquisition and trackingability. The interference is not limited to the GPS equipment onboard thevessel with the installed active marine television antennae. There havebeen reports of interference occurring on other vessels and installationsoperating up to 2000 feet away from vessels using such antennas.

In one particular case, the interference caused the position of thevessel as displayed on the electronic chart to move erratically and dramaticallyoften across large expanses of land. As can be expected, various data displaysindicated erroneous information such as excessive speeds. In these instancesthe problem would occasionally correct itself while at other times requiredresetting the system. — To the vessel’s crew these annoyances were frustratingand caused concerns that perhaps less obvious inaccuracies were occurring.Ultimately this affected their confidence in the performance of the GPSand Electronic Chart Display and Information System.

If you are experiencing recurring outages or degradation of your GPSreceiver operation you should perform an on-off test of your TV antenna.If turning off the power to the antenna results in improvement in the GPSreceiver performance, the antenna may be the source of interference inthe GPS band. In that case, you should contact the manufacturer of theantenna and identify the symptoms.

If the test is not positive and the GPS interference persists, contactthe watchstander at the Coast Guard Navigation Information Service at phone:703-313-5900 or Email:

Antennae models identified during investigations of GPS interference.

  • TDP (Tandy Distribution Products) Electronics — MINI STATE ElectronicAmplified UHF/VHF TV Antenna: Models 5MS740, 5MS750, 5MS921.
  • Radio Shack Corporation: Long Range Amplified Omni
  • Directional TV Antenna: Model 15-1624
  • Shakespeare Corporation: SeaWatch Models 2030, 2050

Questions or comments related to this info may be addressed to Ken Olsenat phone: 202-267-1417 or Email:

MM&PWheelhouse Weekly



A flag-of-convenience tankship carrying more than 20 million gallons offuel oil broke in two off northwest Spain and sank Tuesday, threateningan environmental disaster. An environmentalist warned the wreckage of thesingle-hull Bahamas-flagged PRESTIGE would be like a time bomb some twomiles down on the ocean floor.

If the ship lost its entire cargo of fuel oil, the spill would be nearlytwice the size of the 1989 EXXON VALDEZ disaster in Alaska. Some 10.92million gallons of crude oil were lost from the VALDEZ.

A statement released by the International Maritime Organization saidin part, Despite the adverse conditions, no human life has been lost inthis incident and the search and rescue authorities of Spain deserve muchcredit for dealing with this matter promptly and effectively.

The American Bureau of Shipping, which has monitored and surveyed the81,000-ton PRESTIGE throughout its operational life, reported that the26-year-old tanker had its last full maintenance check six months ago andwas carrying no known seaworthiness defects. Reportedly, the ship underwentan intensive dry-docking which involved extensive steelwork repairs inMay 2001.

As the investigation continues there is no clear indication of whathad caused the loss. The tanker, which was once named GLADYS, was acquiredby the Greek group, Mare Shipping, seven years ago. The operating companyat the time of its final voyage was also Greek.

MM&PWheelhouse Weekly



All parties are at the Hall unless otherwise noted.

East Coast Schedule:

  • Boston Party: Wed., Dec.18, 12 noon at the K of C Hall, 50 W. SchoolhouseSt., Charlestown, MA.
  • Norfolk Party: Friday, Dec.13, 12 noon.
  • New York/New Jersey: Wed., Dec.11, 12:30 pm.

Gulf Coast Schedule:

  • New Orleans: Wed., Dec.11, 12:30 pm.
  • Jacksonville: Fri., Dec.13, 12:30 pm.
  • Houston: Wed., Dec.18, 12:30 pm.
  • Miami/Port Everglades: Fri., Dec.20, 11 am.

West Coast Schedule:

  • Los Angeles/Long Beach: Thur., Dec.12, 12:30 pm.
  • San Francisco: Fri., Dec.13, 12:30 PM. Call Hall for details: 415-777-5074.
  • Seattle: Tue., Dec.17, 12:30 PM.

MM&PWheelhouse Weekly



Class Openings

Between now and the end of the year, seats are available in following courses:12/2-13: GMDSS; 12/9-13: DCS, BST, ARPA; 12/16-20: FF-ADV, CMM-ECDIS. Youcan check schedules, review course descriptions, and register on-line atthe new website, orcontact Admissions at admissions@mitags.orgor 443-989-3226.

Course openings as of press time for Jan 2003. These are subject tochange. Always call admissions or check the MITAGS website for currentcourse availability:

  • 1/6-10: HAZ, ARPA, CMM-ADVWX
  • 1/6-17: MED-PIC
  • 1/6-2/7: LAP
  • 1/11: MED-DOT-DA 1-DAY
  • 1/13-17: BRM, CMM-VPEN
  • 1/20: ROR
  • 1/20-31: GMDSS
  • 1/21: PST
  • 1/22: PST-PSSR
  • 1/23: MED-ELAID
  • 1/27-31: CMM-ADVSTB

DECEMBER classes for CMM-SHS-ADV-1 and CMM-SHS-ADV11 are full. A standbylist is being maintained at admissions.

Special Note on LAP which runs 1/6/-2/7. Every person who takes LAPshould know: During the past year, the USCG has made several significantchanges to the license exam procedures in response to the requirementsof the STCW-95. Some of these changes could impact the decision on whichmaterial you need to study and are ultimately tested on in your upcominglicense raise of grade.

The decision on which modules you will be tested is solely that of theUSCG. MITAGS instructors will do all they can to assist you in the processof reviewing and learning the material. But, you must ask your licenseissuing USCG Regional Exam Center (REC) what specific areas you will beexpected to successfully complete (pass) during testing. It is imperativethat you know what those areas are before you come to MITAGS, not afteryou get here.

You are strongly encouraged to make an appointment with the licenseevaluator to take your application to the REC that will issue your licenseand ask the evaluator to determine the modules on which you are to be examinedfor the license you seek. You should than request that this informationbe transmitted to the REC in Baltimore. Please send a copy of your approvalletter to Mary Matlock in Admissions so MITAGS can plan the instructionschedule.

The RECs are currently busy with STCW-95 applications so plan on needingadditional time to get an appointment. Do not wait to the last minute.You may be disappointed. We look forward to seeing you. The MITAGS LAPteam.

DOT Training for D&A

This 1-day course is designed to provide individuals, designated as urinespecimen collectors for drug testing, instruction and proficiency in Deptof Transportation (DOT) collection procedures as described in 49 CFR 40.This course also provides instruction in breath testing for alcohol asrequired in 46 CFR 4. Course will be held at MITAGS Dec.14, 17, 18, 19,and 20. Contact admissions for seats. One-day classes are also being heldat Halls with New York scheduled for Dec.3-4. Attendance should be arrangedthrough the hall. To maximize resources, MITAGS has been focusing on providingthe 1-day training east of the Mississippi and PMI has a schedule withcoverage in the west.

Schedules, Course Info & Registration

You can now check schedules, review detailed course descriptions and registeron-lineor contact Admissions at admissions@mitags.orgor 443-989-3226.

MM&PWheelhouse Weekly



PMI will be providing DOT Training for D&A on the following dates andlocations: Dec.9: Houston; Dec.13: Seattle; Dec.16: San Fran; Dec.17: LosAngeles; Jan.13: Honolulu; Jan.17: Seattle.

PMI will be running the programs necessary to upgrade from Able Seamanto Mate in Jan. 2003. In order to attempt
to fill their first courses, they are offering a 40-percent discountto mariners wishing to start their training in
Jan. For the latest up-to-date info on class schedules, visit the PMIwebsite at

MM&PWheelhouse Weekly



 D O W
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+224.60 for the week
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 Vanguard 500 IndexFund (VFINX)  84.60
 Vanguard Extended MarketIndex Fund (VEXMX) 19.09
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 Vanguard GNMA Fund(VFIIX) 10.71
 Chase Growth Fund (CHASX) 13.38
 Fidelity Asset Manager(FASMX) 14.10
 Fidelity Growth andIncome (FGRIX)  31.22
Fidelity Magellan Fund (FAGX)  83.21
 Spartan US Equity IndexFund (FUSEX)   32.48


MM&PWheelhouse Weekly

~Reminders ~




MM&P International President Capt. Tim Brown and Executive Asst. MikeRodriguez recently attended a meeting with the US Coast Guard, the MaritimeAdministration and the Military Sealift Command focusing on the assetsneeded to conduct an operation in the Middle East.

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

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

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

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

In the case of retirees, you will be able to return to covered employmentwithout the fear of exceeding the earnings limitation for health care.However, no additional pension credits will be provided for any servicethat you may render to your country during this emergency employment.

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

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

MM&PWheelhouse Weekly




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

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

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

Plan participants who choose to go to a contracted provider will pay10 percent of the contracted amount and the Plan will pay 90 percent. Participantswill have access to all Delta providers in the Delta Premier Network optionthat 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 orafter October 1, 2002, from both in and out-of-network providers, shouldbe 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 PlanOffice on August 11. Your dentist can copy this form and use it to submitall 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 cancall 1-800-932-0783 from 8 AM to 8 PM Eastern Time, Monday-Friday, or youcan sign on to the Delta website at you have signed on to the website, key on the bar marked “Pennsylvania”.(MM&P Plan members are enrolled in the Delta Premier Option throughDelta Dental of Penn.) Next enter the search criteria to find participatingDelta dentists in your area or enter your own dentist’s name to find outif he/she participates with the Premier network.


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

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

Any work started under the old Plan but billed for date of service onor after October 1, 2002 will be reimbursed according to whether the dentistis participating in the Delta Dental network. If your dentist is not aparticipating dentist, the balance billing will be paid at the out-of-networkrate 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 directedto Delta Dental at 1-800-932-0783. You have been provided with a Deltaclaim form to forward to your dentist, however, your dentist may submitany standard dental billing form as long as the bill is sent directly toDelta at the above listed address.


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

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

MM&PWheelhouse Weekly




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

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

Please see your local Offshore Vice President for additional information.

MM&PWheelhouse Weekly



MM&P has established a Fund to receive donations on behalf of GiseleSchmidt, the daughter of Brother Gary Schmidt. Gisele, who is 21, was renderedparalyzed 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&PWheelhouse Weekly



A memorial fund has been established in the memory of recently deceasedMM&P member Jerry Backman. Jerry shipped out of San Francisco and was49-years old at the time of his tragic death as the result of an auto accidentlast month.

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

Donations on behalf of Jerry will be used to assist with the educationof his children. The Backman family is privately managing the fund. Theyare most appreciative of all the messages expressing sympathy and the positivestories 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&PWheelhouse Weekly



Members are reminded that the Masters, Mates & Pilots Federal CreditUnion is offering vehicle loans as low as 5.25 percent. Rates range from5.25 to 6.99 percent for terms of 24 to 60 months. It doesn’t matter ifit’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 termsand 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 immediatefamilies.

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

MM&PWheelhouse Weekly

The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly is the officialelectronic 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: further info or to subscribe contact John Peige at Wheelhouse Weekly is sent via Email to MM&P-contracted vesselsat sea, broadcast worldwide via FEC marine telex and is posted on our webpage.
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