Wheelhouse Weekly – October 01, 2013

October 1st 2013


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

Volume 17 . . . Number 40 . . . Oct. 1, 2013


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


After many weeks of discussion, MARAD has formally notified MM&P, the Maritime Security Program (MSP) agreement holders and the other affected maritime unions of the potential impact on MSP operating agreements of the appropriations uncertainty in fiscal year (FY) 2014.

MARAD has provided MM&P with a list of twenty MSP operating agreements that are potentially at risk and, therefore, may not be funded beyond the 60th day of FY 2014 (Dec. 1, 2013). That is, twenty ships are at risk of elimination. While a formal list of the specific ships has not been disclosed by MARAD to MM&P as of the date of this release, at least fourteen vessels currently crewed by MM&P are at risk. The information MM&P has received is as follows:

MSP Participant
Vessel TypeTotal Vessel(s)
American International Shipping, LLCRO/RO 1
APL Marine Services, Ltd.Containership 2
Argent Marine Operations, Inc. RO/RO 1
Fidelio Limited Partnership (3)RO/RO(1)Heavy Lift 4
Hapag-Lloyd USA, LLC Geared Containership 1
Maersk Line, Limited Containership 10
Waterman Steamship Corp. Geared Containership 1

This crisis has been caused by the inability of Congress to pass a budget.
In the absence of any specific MSP funding relief from Congress, there will be an additional round of MSP funding reductions under sequestration. The severity of the potential vessel reductions has been compounded by the fact that due to a $12 million surplus in funding carried over from FY 2012, the full funding necessary for FY 2013 was $174 million rather than the authorized $186 million. This resulted in the first round of sequestration cuts coming out of $174 million rather than $186 million and the potential second round of sequestration cuts further reducing the remainder.

MM&P is aggressively addressing this emergency by every means available. We urge you to assist in this effort by contacting your Congressional representatives at first opportunity. Information regarding your local contacts and a draft letter are both posted on the MM&P home page,

While these vessel reductions are not cast in stone, the situation is grave.

A united effort is being made within the industry to halt or reduce their impact. The long-term threat to our industry goes far beyond the potential loss of twenty ships which, in itself, would be a huge blow not only to our jobs but also to the viability of the U.S. merchant marine and, as a result, our national economic and military security.


Threatened cuts to the Maritime Security Program (MSP) would damage our national security by severely compromising America’s ability to respond in case of war or other national emergency. MM&P officials are working to educate members of Congress and the public through a variety of channels, including interviews in national and regional publications such as USA Today, NPR and, most recently, The Baltimore Sun.

The most recent article, by journalist Kevin Rector, appeared in the Sept.
27 issue of The Baltimore Sun. The piece takes its cue from the upcoming release of “Captain Phillips,” the Hollywood blockbuster that chronicles the story of the MAERSK ALABAMA and the dramatic rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips off the Horn of Africa in 2009. In describing how federal budget-cutting and partisan gridlock have threatened the survival of our industry, MM&P President Don Marcus told the Sun that “what the Somali pirates couldn’t take away, Congress could.”

MSP. “has seen its budget slashed in the past two years,” Rector writes.
“The program sustains a commercially viable, U.S.-flagged shipping fleet that is required to serve the government during war and other times of need.” In the article, he reports that civilian-owned ships delivered 95 percent of the nation’s war supplies to Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as “aid packages around the world: MAERSK ALABAMA was delivering food aid to Kenya when it was hijacked,” he notes.

Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski is cited by the Sun as one of the strongest voices in Congress in support of MSP. She has slammed the potential cuts as a threat to national security that will cost the government more in the end by forcing the Navy to replicate MSP sealift capability and intermodal logistics systems on its own. The Sun quotes a March 2013 letter from ranking Democrats on the Armed Services Committee, including Reps. Elijah Cummings and Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, which put the likely cost to the government of replicating just the vessel capacity provided by the MSP dry cargo vessels at $13 billion. “Sequestration is punishing a program that is saving the government money,” MM&P Secretary-Treasurer Steve Werse told the Sun.


Bridge resource management problems were central to the grounding of the COSTA CONCORDIA off Italy’s Giglio Island in Jaunary 2012, MM&P Secretary-Treasurer Steve Werse told journalist Erin Burnett in the Sept. 25 telecast of CNN’s “OutFront.” Burnett interviewed Werse, a long-time shipmaster with Central Gulf Waterman, as an expert on ship operations.

She focused the report on claims made by the team of lawyers defending COSTA CONCORDIA Captain Francesco Schettino that malfunctioning doors caused the ship to tip over. “The serious accident that took place was the result of poor management in the bridge resource mode,” Werse told Burnett. “The closing of the doors would have limited the egress of water into the hull.
It would have had no impact on the decision to bring the vessel closer to the shore.” Werse said investigators who have analyzed the ship’s voice data recorder have reported “confusion” on the bridge. Thirty-two people died in the accident.


The Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center (NMC) has issued a notice regarding the services it is authorized to provide in the context of the government shutdown that began on Oct. 1. Details appear below.

“NMC is authorized to maintain a very small cadre of personnel to support National Security emergent issues. The NMC will maintain the Customer Service Call Center–888-IASKNMC will be open and monitored from 0800 until
2000 Eastern Time Monday through Friday. REC and NMC phones will not be monitored.

We will attempt to keep the industry up to date on our status via the website. Regional Exam Centers (RECs) will be closed. Exam appointments will be cancelled and must be rescheduled after the shutdown is lifted. Online scheduling will be disabled.

Appointments to drop off applications will be cancelled and must be rescheduled after the shutdown is lifted. Online scheduling will be disabled. There will be no walk-ins. Applications will be processed when the shutdown is lifted.”

The agency said it would do whatever possible to minimize the impact and to recover as quickly as possible once the shutdown is lifted.


Fifteen people were arrested Sept. 24 during a rally outside Peabody Energy’s headquarters in St. Louis. Members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) and their allies are protesting the company’s continued refusal to pay for health care benefits previously promised to retired miners and their families. The march by several thousand people ended in a direct action technique–a sit-down”–that blocked streets in downtown St.
Louis. Members of at least 15 international unions took part in the rally and march, a spokesperson for the UMWA said.

Last year, Patriot Coal–which was spun off by Peabody in 2007 with nearly
$600 million in obligations for health care owed to employees, retirees and their families–declared bankruptcy. In May, a federal bankruptcy judge ruled Peabody-Patriot had the authority to walk away from its obligation to fund retiree health care. The decision could affect as many as 22,000 mine workers, retirees, dependents and widows. Among those arrested at the Sept.
24 protest were UMWA President Cecil Roberts and Dan Duncan, president of the northern Virginia Central Labor Council and executive secretary-treasurer of the Maritime Trades Department.


The Indian Ocean archipelago nation of Comoros admits it does not know the number of vessels that fly its flag or where they are, according to a spokesperson for the transport ministry interviewed by Al-Watan, one of the country’s newspapers. The problem is not new. In July 2011, Comoros Presidential Transport Adviser Ahmed Abdullah was quoted as saying that, “Tens or hundreds of Comoros flag [ships] drag about all over the world. In addition, they are not registered with us.We need to do some research about it.”

The flag has a reputation for substandard ships, writes Stephen Spark in the Aug. 29 edition of the maritime magazine Fairplay. “It is a prime example of the worst kind of flag of convenience (FOC) and of what the FOC system allows,” he quotes ITF official Sam Dawson as saying. “It is a byword for rustbuckets, crew abandonment and dodgy practices.”

There has been widespread expansion of the FOC registers in the past 30 years, as administrations pursue profit at the expense of shipping standards. The case of Comoros, in which an entire fleet of ships is actually missing from official record books, is an example of the numerous problems implicit in the FOC system. Wages and working conditions aboard FOC vessels have been a longstanding sore point, with sailors working in desperate conditions for little pay. FOC ships have long been linked to crime and high-profile oil spills: the Maltese-flagged MV ERIKA and the Bahamian-flagged MV PRESTIGE, to name only two.


The Offshore Familiarization Course will be held in Los Angeles at the MM&P LA/LB Hall on Nov. 13-14. If you are interested in participating in the course, please contact the Los Angeles/Long Beach Hall: 310-834-7201 or
310-834-6667 (fax). There is no sea-time requirement to take the course. All Offshore applicants, potential transferees from other membership groups and other interested Offshore members are encouraged to take the course as soon as possible.


Support local and international organizing efforts by buying union-made products. Give your pet quality food made by trusted unionized companies.
Here’s a brief list of pet products made by members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) and the United Food and Commercial Worker (UFCW): Alpo; Chew-eez; Fancy Feast; Milk Bones; Purina Animal Feed; Purina Beneful; Purina Cat Chow; Purina Dog Chow; Purina One; Purina Pro Plan; Purina Puppy Chow; 9 Lives; Anchor; Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.; Fresh Step; Friskies; Litter Green; Sanderson Farms; Science Diet; Skippy; Wayne Farms.


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:

AB – Able Seaman: 10/14/13

AIS-1 – Automatic Identification  Systems Orientation: 11/21/13

ARPA – Automated Radar Plotting Aids: 10/29/13

BRM – Bridge Resource Management: 12/16/13

BST – Basic Safety Training: 10/7/13

CHS-BAS – Cargo Handling Basic: 10/21/13

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

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

CMM-ADVSTB – Advanced Stability:  10/28/13

CMM-ADVWX – 11/18/13

CMM-CHS – Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 11/4/13

CMM-ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display Information System: 10/28/13, 12/16/13

CMM-MPP – Marine Propulsion Plants:  10/21/13

CMM-SHMGT – Ship Management (2 weeks): 10/7/13

CMM-SHS-ADV-I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 10/21/13, 11/4/13, 12/2/13

CMM-SHS-ADV-I I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 9/30/13, 10/28/13, 11/11/13, 12/9/13

CMM-VPEN – 12/9/13

CMM-WKP – Advanced Watchkeeping: 12/16/13

CNAV – 9/30/13, 11/4/13

CONT PLNG – 11/5/13

ECDIS-OICNW – 10/14/13

ENVIRO-Regs Permit – Environmental Regulations Permit: 11/4/13

EP – 10/30/13

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep and Medications:  1/8/14

FF-BADV – Combined Basic and Advanced Fire Fighting: 10/7/13

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

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

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

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 10/8/13

MCL OICNW -Management, Communications, and Leadership OICNW level: 9/5/14,

MEDIA-RSP – Media Response Workshop:  11/6/13

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge: 10/14/13, 12/2/13

MED-PIC -R- Medical Person in Charge Refresher: 11/11/13

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 10/14/13, 10/28/13, 12/2/13

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing: 10/12/13, 10/19/13, 12/7/13

MSC -SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualification:  11/11/13

MSC-CBRD-1 – Military Sealift Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense Orientation (Basic): 10/4/13

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 10/28/13

ROR-1N – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 10/2/13, 10/9/13, 10/16/13, 10/30/13, 11/13/13, 12/4/13, 12/11/13

ROP-5 – Radar Observer Original and Renewal: 10/21/13

SAR – 10/28/13

SEC-MSA – 10/17/13 PM, 11/12PM, 12/10/13 PM

SEC-VPDSD -10/18/13, 11/13/13, 12/11/13

SEC-VSO – Vessel Security Officer: 10/14/13, 11/6/13

SHS-BAS – Basic Shiphandling:  10/7/13, 11/18/13

SHS-EMR5 – Emergency Shiphandling: 10/14/13

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

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

TTT – Train the Trainer: 4/7/14

WKP-BAS – 11/4/13

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.

October 2013

7-11       Radar Observer Unlimited
7-18       GMDSS
14th       Radar Renewal
15-18     ARPA
21-25     Basic Construction and Stability
21-25     Medical Care Provider
21-1       Medical Person-in-Charge
23rd       RFPNW Assessments
28-1       Emergency Procedures/Search and Rescue
28-1       ECDIS

November 2013

4th         Med DOT
11th       Radar Renewal
11-22     GMDSS
18-20     Vessel Security Officer
18-22     ECDIS

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