Wheelhouse Weekly – October 17, 2002

October 17th 2002


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

Volume 6 . . . . . Number 42 . . . . . October 17, 2002






The Honorable Norman Mineta, US Secretary of Transportation, will serve as General Chairman of the 2002 United Seamen’s Service Admiral of the Ocean Sea (AOTOS) Award dinner on November 8 honoring MM&P International President Capt. Timothy Brown and Thomas Crowley Jr.

Secretary Mineta will also be presenter of the AOTOS to Crowley. John Bowers, President of the International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL-CIO, will present the award to Capt. Brown.

During this 33rd annual AOTOS gala being held in New York City, USS will also present the Honored Seafarer awards for heroism. In addition, a special AOTOS will be given to Talmage Simpkins, USS President, for two decades of serve to the organization. C. Peter Lambos, a prominent maritime attorney, also will receive special recognition.

For more info, contact the USS at 212-269-0711 or AOTOS Coordinator Barbara Yeninas at 973-226-6260.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Pent-up demand caused by the Pacific Maritime Association’s nearly two-week lockout of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union is producing infrastructure meltdown on West Coast docks; but instead of trying to resolve the problems it caused, the Pacific Maritime Association is blaming the union.

Trains that carry containers to their inland destinations were moved away from the West Coast during the lockout because there was no work for them, and they haven’t returned in any significant numbers. Shortages of chassis are making it difficult if not impossible for trucks to move containers out.

ILWU members are unloading the containers from the ships, but because of these train and truck problems they cannot be moved out of the ports. The resulting backup of containers is aggravating the congestion and making the docks even more dangerous than usual.

While PMA officials stand on the docks with clipboards in-hand in an attempt to document alleged slowdowns by ILWU workers, the chaos at the ports continues. “PMA is more focused on using Taft-Hartley to harass us than solving the logistical disaster they created,” said ILWU International President James Spinosa.

“The congestion on the docks is reducing productivity as well as safety. But these employers are only concerned with numbers of containers moved and not the human toll of their production,” Spinosa said.

The congestion has already led to accidents, and major ports are experiencing acute shortages of equipment and manpower. At the biggest terminal in the world, the new Maersk facility in the Port of Los Angeles, congestion resulted in two accidents on October 11. An outside trucker hit an ILWU-driven truck and when the union Business Agent came to the scene to investigate, his truck was hit by another outside trucker. Some terminals are so congested they have stopped receiving incoming trucks.

In Seattle, the rail yard has limited the number of containers loaded onto trains to 100 per day for the entire port. In Oakland the rail yard is limiting each terminal to only 30 containers per day when each ship has hundreds scheduled for trains.

Terminals up and down the West Coast are experiencing shortages of chassis, making it impossible for trucks to pick up their loads. Some terminals have stopped receiving new containers because they are too congested.

In Portland, truckers are being hit with additional demurrage fees for keeping their containers stored on the docks beyond their free pickup date, even though the PMA’s lockout kept them from retrieving their loads on time.

Equipment shortages and malfunctions are slowing work as well. In Portland, a lack of enough trucks, top loaders and radios is causing workers to stand by for hours, reducing productivity. In Los Angeles/Long Beach, scales, cameras and computers are breaking down, causing further delays.

PMA’s lockout created a backlog of ships to the point where every terminal needs a full complement of workers on every shift. So the employers are ordering more workers than there are available and then they claim the union is withholding labor. But the union has been asking PMA to hire more people for years.

PMA has delayed those requests because the more union workers there are, the stronger the union is. This policy is now coming back to haunt the employers, but instead of resolving the matter, they blame the union.

The backlogs and snafus continue to escalate, extending all estimates of how long the port congestion will last. “PMA is saying that we are causing slowdowns because productivity is down by 20 to 25 percent,” Spinosa said. “I think we must be doing pretty good if that’s all we’re down given the disaster the employers’ lockout created.”

For the latest info, go to the ILWU website at:


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The latest issue of The Transportation Worker, an on-line activist newsletter from the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, takes President Bush to task for his Administration’s anti-union decision to seek a Taft-Hartley injunction that gutted the rights of International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) members in their bargaining struggle.

The newsletter reports that:

“Over 10,000 longshore workers saw their collective bargaining rights dramatically undercut as they struggle to fight off efforts to farm out their jobs overseas, increase their health care costs, and water down safety rules.

“It’s yet another reminder to American workers that big corporations have too much access and too much influence in the Bush White House. These multi-billion dollar corporate interests plotted for months to stonewall negotiations with the ILWU, create a phony economic crisis by locking out the workers and then count on a bail-out from their allies in the White House.”

To receive a free on-line copy of the newsletter, go to:

To send a letter to your elected officials in Washington in support of the ILWU, go to the TTD website at: and click on the “Tell It To Washington” button.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



In testimony last week before the Merchant Marine Panel (House Armed Services Committee), General John Handy, USAF, Commander-in-Chief of the US Transportation Command called for the reauthorization of the Maritime Security Program (MSP) beyond its current expiration of September 30, 2005. He also urged Congress to expand the number of ships in the program from the current 47 vessels.

He said:

“As a nation, we cannot fight the fight without the partnership of the commercial maritime industry. We rely on the commercial maritime industry to provide the primary source of manpower to crew our organic vessels.

“Our nation’s organic sealift capability, in the form of highly capable prepositioned, fast sealift ships (FSS), large medium speed roll on and roll off ships (LMSR), and Ready Reserve Force (RRF) ships which provide emergency and surge response capabilities to globally deploy our combat and support forces, would literally be useless without the support of the commercial maritime industry.”

Calling MSP reauthorization “the linchpin in our wartime US commercial sealift capability, through its integral support of the Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement (VISA),”

General Handy made the point that:

“MSP supports not only our commercial wartime sealift, but is absolutely essential to providing the labor pool of US merchant mariners for our organic fleet. This is a huge aspect of MSP.

“Given that the events of 9/11 have forever changed how we view the world, the absolute, unequivocal necessity for US mariners, ready and able to crew a guaranteed fleet of US-flagged vessels in times of crisis, mandates MSP reauthorization.

“Our latest assessment indicates a requirement range of 50-60 dry cargo ships in MSP. This scenario-driven assessment is based upon wartime requirements resident in the Mobility Requirements Study, a two-year old study that predates the War On Terrorism.

“From a war-fighting perspective, it is in USTRANSCOM’s interest to maintain a mix of dry cargo ships that optimize support for meeting the most demanding requirements of the two Major Theater War (MTW) scenario.”

The General told the House panel that, “We need MSP reauthorization soonest. Guaranteed access to US Flag shipping, the viability of the US merchant mariner pool, and the associated security requirements mandate MSP reauthorization. MSP reauthorization now is a national security imperative of the highest magnitude.”

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The humanitarian vessel M/V CARIBBEAN MERCY, a converted 50-year old Norwegian ferry operated by Mercy Ships, is docked in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, near the National Aquarium, until October 22.

For the past eight years, she has been providing medical and relief services to various poor nations throughout the world. The CARIBBEAN MERCY sails for Wilmington, NC, on October 22.

The ship just returned to the US after working for three months in Honduras. On her return trip, she made courtesy stops in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

The crew hosted a Mariner’s Reception on board Thursday October 17. It was an evening of sharing the Mercy Ships’ mission with the local maritime community. The aid organization also operates two larger hospital ships: the ANASTASSIS and the AFRICA MERCY.

The ship is also open for public tours on Friday: 1300­1700; Saturday: 1300­2000; and Sunday: 1300-1700. Mariners may stop by anytime to ask for more info or check out the vessel’s website at:

MM&P has determined that volunteer service aboard Mercy Ships or other humanitarian aid vessels does not conflict with rules on prohibited service and does not endanger Plans benefit status.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Class Openings

Advanced Fire Fighting, BST, Computer, and GMDSS classes have plenty of seats remaining between now and the end of the year.

Two seats remain in the MSC Communications course November 4.

Confined Space Entry class has spots available for week of October 28.

Basic Shiphandling class beginning December 2 still has open slots.


DOT Training for D&A

A one-day course, acceptable to the USCG, that substantially complies with 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.

The 3-day course originally scheduled for December 18-20 has been cancelled and replaced with one-day sessions.

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).

Seats should be arranged through the respective halls. Recognizing the demand, MITAGS will endeavor to schedule additional classes.


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.


Damage Control (DC)

The inaugural DC class at MITAGS has been scheduled for November 14-15. A limited number of seats remain. Contact admissions for details or quotas.


You can now check schedule and register on-line or contact Admissions at or 443-989-3226.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Class Openings through November:

  • 10/21-25: MAXIMO, BAFF
  • 10/28-11/1: ARPA
  • 10/28-11/8: GMDSS
  • 11/4-6: BRM
  • 11/4-8: BST
  • 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




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



Pursuant to a Resolution adopted at the MM&P’s 79th Convention, the web-based bulletin board established by the MM&P for communication among its members is going to be discontinued. The bulletin board was set up following passage of a Resolution calling for its establishment during the MM&P’s 78th Convention in 2000.

Since its establishment, fewer than one percent of MM&P members have registered to use the system and even fewer registered members have actually posted messages.

Members are advised that the bulletin board will go off-line about October 31, 2002 which is 90 days from the date of publication of the July-August edition of The Master, Mate & Pilot which was printed July 31.

Note: Shut-down of the bulletin board should not be confused with operation of the Members’-only web site accessed from the MM&P’s main web page. That site continues to get excellent traffic and improvements continue to be made.

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



MM&P-contracted AHL Shipping maintains a “job line” that provides info on available rotary jobs. Information is posted at the beginning of each month for the current month. It is only updated during the month if an error occurred in the original month’s posting. All jobs continue to be posted and shipped out of the Union Halls, the line is for info purposes only. The job line may be reached by calling 504-522-3300 and requesting the Job Line at extension 10.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The USCG has issued a Safety Alert reporting that a high percentage of antennas attached to Satellite 406 Category I EPIRBs, product number 2754, manufactured by ACR Electronics, have failed.

On several occasions the antenna’s outer rubber coating was discovered ripped or torn. Closer inspection often revealed extensive internal corrosion. Other antennas showed no perforations on the outer rubber coating but displayed bulges on the antennae near its base. Upon closer inspection when the bulging area was sliced open, total wastage of the antennae interior was revealed.

It is reported that evidence of a corrosion failure may be discovered when the antenna is unscrewed from the EPIRB body assembly. Rusty liquid dripping from the antenna or moisture present inside the threaded section are tell-tale signs of failing equipment.

The company will replace damaged antennas at no cost.

If similar problems are encountered with your vessel’s 2754 EPIRB antenna, contact ACR Electronics Customer Service Representatives at 800-432-0227, ext. 110 to receive a replacement antenna.

The USCG strongly recommends that vessel operators carefully examine their EPIRB antennas, particularly those manufactured by ACR Electronics.

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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