Wheelhouse Weekly – November 26, 2013

November 26th 2013


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

Volume 17 . . . Number 48 . . . Nov. 26, 2013


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


All MM&P union halls, the MM&P Plan Office, the MM&P Federal Credit Union and MM&P headquarters will be closed on Nov. 28 and 29 for Thanksgiving.


The officers and crew of two MM&P-crewed vessels, MAERSK UTAH and Crowley tug GUARD, were honored for acts of heroism at the Admiral of the Ocean Sea Awards (AOTOS) in New York City on Nov. 15. The event is sponsored by the United Seamen’s Service.

The officers and crew of MAERSK UTAH were awarded the AOTOS Mariners’ Plaque for their bravery in the Aug. 9 rescue of 83 Syrian refugees off the coast of Sicily. The search-and-rescue operation lasted through the night. Aboard the vessel at the time were MM&P members Master Robert H. Sienel, Chief Mate Joe Single, Second Mate Bryan Phillips and Third Mate Thomas Komenda. “It was a long night but the reward at the end was very satisfying,” said Sienel, who accepted the award on behalf of the officers and crew.

Crewmembers aboard Crowley tug GUARD received an award for heroism for rescuing a man they spotted drifting in the water about one and one-half miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge on Oct. 31 of last year. Aboard the tug at the time were Captain Perry Overton, Chief Mate Ryan Stirewalt, Training Captain James Christian, Chief Engineer Keith Madding and AB/Deckhand Chris Cooke. Madding accepted the award on behalf of the officers and crew of tug GUARD.


To increase awareness of the importance of our industry to America’s defense sealift readiness, on Nov. 20 the Congressional Maritime Caucus held a briefing on the Maritime Security Program (MSP) for more than 60 Congressional staffers. Speakers at the briefing were MM&P Secretary-Treasurer Captain Steve Werse, former MAERSK ALABAMA Captain Richard Phillips, former Commander-Military Sealift Command Adm. Rob Reilly and Seafarers International Union Executive Vice President Augie Tellez. Each described in detail why the Maritime Security Program and its maritime security fleet of 60 U.S.-flag militarily useful commercial vessels and their U.S.-citizen crews are a critical component of America’s sealift capability. Thanks to MSP, the Department of Defense (DOD) knows that it will have the commercial sealift capability and global logistics networks it needs to support American troops and protect America’s interests around the world.

Werse warned that unless Congress addresses MSP funding cuts now mandated by sequestration, U.S.-flag ships will be forced out of the program. This would weaken America’s commercial sealift capability, send American maritime jobs overseas and increase costs to taxpayers because the federal government would be forced to step in to acquire and maintain the commercial sealift needed to support American troops. He emphasized that through MSP, at a total cost of $186 million annually, DOD has access to 60 U.S.-flag vessels, their crews and the carriers’ worldwide intermodal logistical networks.

“Our U.S.-flag carriers and our U.S. merchant mariners have been the crucial logistical supply chain moving over 26 million tons of military cargo to our armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Werse told Hill staffers. “What’s more, since 2009 MSP carriers have delivered 90 percent of the cargo needed to support U.S. military operations and rebuilding programs in both countries. By fully funding MSP and maintaining its fleet of 60 U.S.-flag militarily useful commercial vessels, Congress could prevent our country from experiencing diminished commercial sealift capability. Failure to approve the program’s full authorized funding of $ 186 million would result in a loss of vessels critical to supporting and supplying America’s troops abroad.”               

If cuts are made to the program and this public-private partnership is weakened or eliminated, it would cost the federal government and the American taxpayer an estimated $65 billion to replicate what DOD gets today at a fraction of the cost. The speakers urged Congress to take action to ensure that full funding for MSP is available in this fiscal year.

The Congressional Maritime Caucus is co-chaired by Republican Michael Grimm of New York and Democrat Cedric Richmond of Louisiana. Members of the bipartisan caucus work to educate their colleagues on the importance of the U.S. maritime industry to our nation’s economic and military security. MM&P and MIRAID work closely with Grimm and Richmond, their staffs and the caucus on issues important to our industry and to American maritime jobs.

“Educational outreach efforts by the Congressional Maritime Caucus complement and supplement the grassroots efforts undertaken by MM&P, the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA), the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and our carriers,” said MM&P International President Don Marcus. “The Maritime Advisory Committees which meet in Congressional districts throughout the country are the basis of our grassroots efforts, which have already proven enormously successful. We look forward to continuing these efforts in conjunction with the important work being carried out by the Congressional Maritime Caucus.”


National and local officials, including U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, took a ride on a Blue and Gold ferry last week with Captain Max Browatzki, a member of MM&P’s United Inland Group. Foxx was in the area to inspect work on the Bay Bridge and the Caldecott Tunnel, a highway project in East Bay. He was joined by Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore and Nina Rannels, the executive director of WETA, the regional public agency that operates the Bay Area ferry system. 

Local officials have requested that the government grant WETA $3 million from the Federal Transportation Authority’s Ferry Boat Discretionary Fund. The money would be used to enhance local ferry service. Grants from the discretionary fund are highly competitive: only $30 million is available under the program nationwide. The $3 million grant is considered critical to Alameda’s shoreline housing and economic development projects.

Local officials led by Rep. Barbara Lee, who represents Alameda Point, have been working hard to secure the funds. MM&P has also advocated strongly for the project. In a letter to Acting U.S. Maritime Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen, MM&P Regional Representative Ray Shipway said the grant, which would fund the Central Basin Operations & Maintenance Facility in Alameda, would create new job opportunities for captains and engineers working on WETA commuter ferries. The project includes: 11 berths for overnighting and repairing ferries, an operations center and a large-capacity fuel storage tank, a critical emergency response asset. Shipway pointed out that the Central Basin Facility is “shovel ready.” Construction could be completed by 2015 if the federal grant is approved.


The Senate Commerce Committee met Nov. 21 to begin consideration of the nomination of Acting Maritime Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen to be Maritime Administrator.  Jaenichen, who served for 30 years in the Navy as a submarine officer, joined the Maritime Administration in July 2012 as deputy and became acting administrator following the resignation of Administrator David Matsuda in June 2013.  In his statement to the committee, Jaenichen said our country needs “a strategy that will result in a significantly higher portion of U.S. overseas trade being carried on U.S.-flag vessels.  This increased trade for U.S.-flag vessels would provide greater demand for additional ships and more U.S. mariners to crew them.” 

Jaenichen also said defense of the Jones Act “is critical” and that “policies must be supported that will protect U.S. mariner jobs.”  He said “programs and policies such as… the Maritime Security Program, cargo preference [and] the Jones Act…  are all key to ensuring that the pool of mariners is ready and available when needed to support military sealift requirements.” There is no word yet on whether the Commerce Committee and the Senate will act on this nomination before the end of the year. 


Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), who has taken a strong leadership role in defense of the Jones Act, cargo preference statutes and the Maritime Security Program, has been endorsed for reelection by MM&P, the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association (MEBA) and a number of other labor unions. Schatz, who serves on the Senate Commerce Committee, was hosted by the industry last week at an event at MEBA headquarters.

“We are pleased to give Senator Schatz our endorsement and do so based on his strong commitment to preserving American maritime jobs and to strengthening America’s maritime industry,” said MM&P President Don Marcus. “In the short time he has served in the Senate, he has worked tirelessly to ensure that our nation has the U.S.-flag commercial sealift capability needed to support American troops overseas and to protect America’s interests abroad. We look forward to working with Senator Schatz in the years ahead.”


Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) spoke before the Propeller Club of D.C. during a recent luncheon in Washington. He expressed continued support for critical maritime programs such as cargo preference and the Maritime Security Program. Vitter assured members of the Propeller Club that he and others were working to ensure that funds in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund will be used for their intended purpose rather than being redirected to other programs.


The captain and crew of the Greenpeace ship ARCTIC SUNRISE have been released from prison following a ruling by a court in Russia granting them bail. Speaking from St. Petersburg, the American captain of the ship, Peter Willcox, a former MM&P member, recounted details of his arrest and captivity to The New York Times. “The way we were arrested was quite scary,” he said in a telephone interview. The dozen commandos who “rappelled onto the ship” on Sept. 19 from a helicopter “wore balaclavas and uniforms with no insignia of any kind,” he said. “They made the crew kneel on deck… They had machine guns out.” He said the ship was in international waters when it was boarded. Willcox was also captain of the RAINBOW WARRIOR when it was attacked by French agents in a New Zealand harbor in 1985. One crew member was killed in that attack.

Russia detained the crew of the ARCTIC SUNRISE on charges of piracy, later reduced to “hooliganism,” after two environmental activists tried to climb the side of an oil platform owned by the Russian energy company Gazprom. Russian authorities later claimed that illegal drugs had been found aboard the ship, an allegation that a spokesperson for Greenpeace called “a smear” … and “a fabrication, pure and simple.” Greenpeace said the accusations regarding drugs were “designed to deflect attention from the growing global outrage over the continued imprisonment of the detainees.”

Members of the international maritime community had spoken out strongly in the crew’s defense. “The crime of piracy is one that involves illegal acts of violence or detention, or raids committed for private gain,” said Mark Dickinson, general secretary of the maritime labor union Nautilus, in a letter to authorities in Russia. Nautilus represents licensed ship officers in Britain, the Netherlands and Switzerland, including the captain of the ARCTIC SUNRISE. “We consider that exposing professional mariners and environmental protestors to such a charge is a serious misuse of a term that is widely accepted as a definition for armed robbery on the high seas.”

Nautilus and MM&P had called for the immediate release of the crew and for any charges against them to be withdrawn. MM&P wrote to Russia’s Ambassador to the United States to protest, in the strongest possible terms, the detention of the crew. The union pointed out that the crewmembers of the ARCTIC SUNRISE were involved in a peaceful, non-violent protest.

Greenpeace International had dispatched the ARCTIC SUNRISE to the Pechora Sea to draw the world’s attention to the environmental risks caused by the exploitation of natural resources in the Arctic. The captain and crew are now charged with “hooliganism,” which carries a maximum sentence of seven years. A trial date has been set for February.


The government of Spain has appealed the verdict announced earlier this month in the PRESTIGE oil spill case. The court acquitted the captain of the Prestige and other defendants of the central charge of environmental crime in what is considered Spain’s worst environmental disaster, an oil spill that blackened hundreds of miles of coastline in 2002. A spokesman for Spain’s ministry of the environment said that it is not appealing the court’s finding that the defendants are innocent of committing a crime, but rather the finding that they are not responsible for clean-up costs. The ministry is also challenging the acquittal of the American Bureau of Shipping, which had found the PRESTIGE seaworthy before the spill.


The schedule for MM&P Atlantic Ports holiday parties is as follows: Norfolk, Dec. 5; San Juan, Dec. 6; Charleston, Dec. 17; Boston, Dec. 19; New York/New Jersey, Dec. 20. All Atlantic Ports parties begin at noon. Most Atlantic Ports parties will begin with a brief membership meeting. The Norfolk party, which is a joint party with members of the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA), also begins at noon but will not be preceded by a membership meeting.

The schedule of holiday parties for Gulf Ports is as follows: Houston, Dec. 19; Jacksonville, Dec. 13; Miami-Port Everglades, Dec. 16; New Orleans, Dec. 18.

The schedule of holiday parties for Pacific Ports is as follows: San Francisco/Oakland, Dec. 6; Los Angeles/Long Beach, Dec. 13 and Seattle, Dec. 18. The parties in Honolulu, Los Angeles/Long Beach and San Francisco/Oakland are joint parties with MEBA.


The National Labor College is closing. The college has been struggling with financial difficulties in recent years, including some $30 million in debt largely incurred during a multimillion-dollar campus-wide renovation and expansion effort begun in 2003. Last year, it announced plans to sell the school’s Silver Spring campus and continue as a primarily online educational institution. No date has been set for the closing.


The 2006 Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) entered into force on Aug. 20. It has been described as the fourth pillar of international shipping regulations along with SOLAS, MARPOL and STCW.  The International Labor Organization consolidated a number of previous conventions in MLC 2006. It establishes minimum standards on conditions of employment, accommodations, health and safety, medical care, crew welfare, recruitment, working conditions and social security protection. MLC will be strictly enforced during port state control inspections, including the potential for more detailed inspections and possible detention where hazardous conditions may exist if ships are not to be in compliance. Visit for more information or to register for the MLC course.


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:

AIS-1 – Automatic Identifications Systems Orientation:

ARPA – Automated Radar Plotting Aids: 1/21/14

AZIPOD 2-Day – 2/6/14

BRM – Bridge Resource Management: 12/16/13, 1/27/14, 3/24/14

BRMP –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 2/4/14, 3/3/14

BST – Basic Safety Training: 1/20/14, 2/10/14

CHS-BAS – Cargo Handling Basic: 4/14/14

CONSTB – Ship Construction and Basic Stability: 1/27/14

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

CMM-ADVNAV – Advanced Navigation (=ECDIS & VPEN): 12/2/13, 2/24/14

CMM-ADVSTB – Advanced Stability: 2/3/14

CMM-ADVWX – Advanced Meteorology: 3/10/14

CMM-CHS – Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 2/10/14

CMM-ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display Information System: 12/2/13, 12/16/13, 1/27/14, 2/24/14

CMM-LDRSHP – Management, Communication, & Leadership (Management Level): 3/17/14

CMM-MPP – Marine Propulsion Plants:  1/20/14

CMM-SHMGT – Ship Management (2 weeks): 1/6/14

CMM-SHS-ADV-I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 12/2/13, 1/6/14, 2/17/14, 3/10/14

CMM-SHS-ADV-I I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 12/9/13, 1/13/14, 2/24/14, 3/17/14

CMM-VPEN – Voyage Planning & Electronic Navigation: 12/9/13, 3/3/14

CMM-WKP – Advanced Watchkeeping: 12/16/13, 1/27/14

CNAV – Celestial Navigation: 4/28/14

CONT PLNG – Contingency Planning Workshop:

DDE – Great Lakes: 1/27/14

ECDIS-Pilots – 3/5/14

ENVIRO-Regs Permit – Environmental Regulations Permit:

FF-BADV – Fire Fighting Combined Basic & Advanced: 1/20/14, 2/10/14

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep & Medications:  1/8/14, 2/3/14

GL Pilot – Great Lakes Pilotage Familiarization: 1/24/14

GMDSS – Global Maritime Distress and Safety System: 3/17/14

HAZ – Hazardous Materials (5 day): 12/2/13, 1/13/14

LAP-Great Lakes – License Advancement Program – Great Lakes:  1/27/14

LAP-ORG3rd – License Advancement Program for Original 3rd Mate, Oceans, Any Gross Ton License: 12/2/13

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 1/22/14, 3/5/14

MCL – Management, Communications and Leadership

MCL OICNW –Management, Communications, and Leadership OICNW level: 9/5/14, 10/7/14

MEDIA-RSP – Media Response Workshop:  2/7/14

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge: 12/2/13, 1/6/14, 2/17/14, 3/17/14

MED-PIC -R– Medical Person in Charge Refresher: 1/27/14

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 12/2/13, 1/6/14, 2/17/14, 3/17/14

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing: 12/7/13, 1/11/14, 1/25/14, 3/22/14

MSC-CBRD-1 – Military Sealift Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense Orientation (Basic): 3/14/14

MSC-DC – Military Sealift Command Damage Control (4 Evenings): 3/10/14

MSC -SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualification:  3/10/14



MSC-Ship’s Reaction Force –

ROP-5 – Radar Observer Program – Unlimited: 1/13/14, 2/3/14

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 1/20/14

ROR-1N – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 12/4/13, 12/11/13, 1/8/14, 1/22/14, 2/5/14, 2/19/14, 3/6/14, 3/20/14

SAR – Search & Rescue

SEC-MSA –Maritime Security Awareness: 12/10/13 PM

SEC-VPDSD – Vessel Personnel with Designated Security Duties: 12/11/13

SEC-VSO – Vessel Security Officer: 12/12/13, 2/4/14

SHS-BAS – Basic Shiphandling:  2/10/14

SHS-EMR5 – Emergency Shiphandling-5 Day: 1/20/14, 3/3/14

SHS-ESH-BRMP3 – Emergency Shiphandling and Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 3/5/14

TCNAV/CO – Terrestrial Navigation and Compasses: 1/6/14

TPIC – Tankerman Person in Charge:  2/24/14

TTT – Train the Trainer: 4/7/14

WKP-BAS – Basic Watchkeeping: 3/3/14

WX-BAS – Basic Meteorology: 2/24/13

…And 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, and schedule revisions.


Please also see our schedule online at For registration, call our registrar, Jennifer Pitzen, at (206) 838-1126.

December 2013

2-6          Tankerman Person-in-Charge
2-6          Medical Care Provider
2-13       Medical Person-in-Charge
2-13       GMDSS
9-13       ECDIS
11th       Med DOT

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. Suite B, Linthicum Heights, MD 21090-1953. Phone: 410-850-8700; Fax: 410-850-0973; Email: For further info or to subscribe contact Lisa Rosenthal at The Wheelhouse Weekly is sent via Email to MM&P-contracted vessels at sea and is posted on our web page.

© 2013, International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots. All the material contained in this publication is protected by copyright. For permission to reprint text from the Weekly, contact the MM&P Communications Department: For changes of address, contact Lisa Rosenthal at