Wheelhouse Weekly – October 17th, 2017

October 18th 2017

Volume 22… Number 42… Oct. 17, 2017


In This Issue:


News for MM&P Federal Employees Membership Group Members:

Coast Guard News:


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MM&P has joined other unions and the U.S. Navy League in the fight to set the record straight on the misinformation about the Jones Act that continues to circulate widely in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

“Most of us have been outraged–but not surprised–by the tidal wave of lies about the Jones Act that have circulated in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria,” MM&P President Don Marcus wrote in a message that was sent last week to every member of the union and posted on

In his message, the MM&P President counters the falsehoods circulating in the press and reveals “the broader agenda” of those who are taking advantage of the suffering of the people of Puerto Rico to attack the U.S.-flag fleet, the American Merchant Marine and American labor unions.

To view the message, go to

The AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department and the AFL-CIO as a whole spoke out strongly last week in support of the Jones Act and the American jobs it supports.

“On behalf of the AFL-CIO, I am writing to set the record straight,” AFL-CIO Government Affairs Director William Samuel wrote in a letter that was sent to every member of Congress.

“Since 1789, the federal government has regulated coastal trade and, like many other maritime nations, has enacted laws to maintain a domestic maritime industry to ensure that we would not be dependent on foreign nations in times of war or natural disasters…”

“Since the Jones Act ensures that our labor laws protect maritime employees, repealing the Act would pave the way for foreign companies to replace domestic crews with lower paid workers lacking basic labor protections.”

“The Jones Act has in no way impeded Puerto Rico’s recovery,” he continued.

“Fully loaded Jones Act ships began arriving as soon as the main port in Puerto Rico re-opened. News footage of containers piling up at the Port of San Juan offered visual proof that life-saving supplies were arriving hourly on Jones Act ships, as well as on foreign ships not covered by the Jones Act. These supplies were not getting to interior sections of Puerto Rico because of transportation bottlenecks and a shortage of truck drivers, not because of a lack of ships.”

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More than 8,500 emails have been sent to Congress in response to a grassroots campaign organized in defense of the Jones Act by the U.S. Navy League.

Please go to the link below to send your member of Congress a message of support for the law that keeps the U.S. maritime industry afloat:

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Captains Michael McGee and Michael Phillips of the Houston Pilots were honored by representatives of the American maritime industry on Oct. 13 with the Admiral of the Oceans Seas (AOTOS) award for courage in the line of duty.

The two received the Mariners’ Rosette in the presence of several hundred representatives of the U.S.-flag shipping industry, the government and the military.

The award is the most recent in a string of accolades for MM&P members McGee and Phillips, who for hours last Sept. 6 fought a fire that had broken out aboard the crude oil tanker AFRAMAX RIVER.

The two are credited with saving property and lives by helping to extinguish the fire before it spread to other vessels and installations along the Houston Ship Channel.

Also receiving awards at the event were Andre Grikitis of Intermarine LLC, Thomas Merrell of American Overseas Marine and Jim Miller of Philly Shipyard ASA.

Speakers at the ceremony included Maritime Administrator Rear Adm. Mark H. Buzby and Gen. Darren W. McDew, commander, U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM).

“It is so important that we take the time to recognize performance that is clearly above and beyond the line of duty,” Buzby said in presenting the award to the Houston pilots.

McDew described himself to the audience as “a 35-year airman and also one of the maritime industry’s biggest fans,” adding, “I’ve stood with you and I believe in you and our nation needs you defending and protecting this great America.”

In his role as head of the agency that serves as the single manager for global air, land and sea transportation for the Department of Defense, McDew seized the opportunity to express his grave concerns about the diminishing size of the U.S.-flag fleet and the shrinking number of highly trained professional mariners.

“If we had to go to war today, we would be about 1,700 mariners short of sustaining an extended mobilization,” he said.

He vowed to energetically carry the campaign to expand the U.S.-flag fleet to legislators and key decision-makers in Washington, D.C.

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A journalist trying to wade through the flood of anti-Jones Act rhetoric circulating in the wake of the Gulf Coast and Caribbean hurricanes spent time at MITAGS last week—getting “educated” on the topic by MM&P members and officials.

The Jones Act requires that cargo moving between U.S. ports be carried on ships that are U.S.-built, U.S.-owned and U.S. crewed.

Bloomberg journalist Daniel Flatley interviewed MM&P members on the topic in the MITAGS ship simulators and in the lunchroom.

A week earlier, he had sat in on a Congressional hearing on the subject, where he heard Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) defend the role of the Jones Act in America’s defense, security and economy.

“There are those forces who want to do away with the Jones Act for whatever reason,” he quoted Cummings as saying.

“Basically what it would do is put our shipbuilders out of business and our workers out of work. Why in the world would anybody want to do that?”

“The Jones Act is pretty much the only reason I have a job,” MM&P Offshore member Brett Cowan told Flatley in an informal interview at MITAGS.

Changing the Jones Act, he said, “would put a lot of us out of work.”

MIRAID President C. James Patti and MM&P Gulf Ports & Government Affairs Vice President Klaus Luhta spoke with Flatley about the 2012 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that warned in a study specific to Puerto Rico that changes to the Jones Act could undercut national defense.

In that study, the GAO also found that the U.S. domestic container shipping fleet “has a long history of providing regular, reliable service to Puerto Rico, and in the past few years [has] also offered significant rate reductions.”

Flatley noted in his Oct. 9 article, “Seafarers Fret Over New Assault on Jones Act in Wake of Storms,” that the law enjoys bipartisan support, uniting “an array of Democrats and Republicans, many of them with ports and shipyards in their districts.”

“The reality is that without the Jones Act there would not be an American maritime industry,” Bloomberg quoted a U.S.-flag shipping company executive as saying.

“That view dominated the lunchtime conversation in the Masters, Mates & Pilot’s training center cafeteria last week, where the diners showed an impressive command of the Jones Act’s details—and the arguments for its necessity,” Flatley concluded.

“We all keep pretty well versed on it,” he quoted MM&P member Steven Partridge as saying.

“It’s pretty important to us.”

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The EMERALD STAR, a bulker carrying a load of nickel ore, sank in bad weather in the early morning hours of Oct. 13 about 325 nm south of Ishigaki Island, Japan.

Good Samaritan vessels battling high winds and rough seas were able to rescue only 16 of 26 members of the crew.

After sending out a distress call, the 33,000 dwt bulker capsized and quickly sank, the Japanese coast guard reported.

The ship was reportedly on a round-trip voyage out of Lianyungang, China.

Nickel ore is categorized in the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code as a Group A bulk commodity, one of a limited number that can exhibit liquid-like behavior in a hold if the moisture content is too high.

“Cargo liquefaction” can lead to cargo shift and vessel stability issues, and in the worst case can cause a ship to capsize at a moment’s notice.

Nickel ore has been called the world’s most dangerous cargo, and shipments of nickel ore from Indonesia to China are considered particularly dangerous.

Nickel ore liquefaction was found by investigators to be the cause of at least four vessel casualties and the loss of 66 seafarers from October 2010 to December 2011.

The number of accidents blamed on nickel ore liquefaction fell in recent years in part due to an export ban on nickel ore and bauxite imposed by Indonesia itself in 2014 as a way to promote domestic smelting.

This year, however, Indonesia lifted the ban, prompting the cargo shippers’ association INTERCARGO to issue the following warning:

“We urge members to exercise extreme caution should Indonesian ore exports re-enter the market; as the ban has been in place for some time, it is most likely that many stockpiles will be subject to saturation and therefore the possibility of being offered cargoes with an unduly high moisture content may be anticipated. Furthermore, it is important to note that it has been reported that specified shippers will be permitted to export washed bauxite; this form of processing of cargo was associated with a number of problems in the past and any such cargoes should be carefully assessed prior to acceptance.”

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The U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet has dismissed the commanding officer and executive officer of the USS JOHN S. MCCAIN, the destroyer that was damaged in an Aug. 21 collision with a merchant vessel.

In a statement, the Navy said both had been relieved “due to a loss of confidence in their ability to command.”

The MCCAIN collided with the merchant vessel ALNIC MC in the early morning hours of Aug. 21, causing extensive damage to the destroyer’s port quarter, killing 10 sailors and injuring five more.

“While the investigation is ongoing, it is evident that the collision was preventable, the commanding officer exercised poor judgment and the executive officer exercised poor leadership of the ship’s training program,” the Seventh Fleet said in a statement.

The dismissals add to the list of Navy commanders who have been relieved of duty in the wake of the MCCAIN incident and the casualty involving her sister ship USS FITZGERALD two months earlier.

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The House of Representatives last Wednesday approved a bill that would make it easier for participants in the federal government’s 401(k)-type retirement program—known as the Thrift Savings Plan, or TSP–to manage their investments.

As government employees, Civil Service mariners represented by the MM&P Federal Employees Membership Group (FEMG) have the option of investing in the TSP.

The TSP Modernization Act (HR 3031), introduced by Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), would allow federal employees and retirees to make multiple age-based withdrawals from their TSP accounts while also remaining eligible for partial withdrawals after leaving government.

Additionally under the legislation, those who had already left government would be able to make multiple partial “post-separation” withdrawals.

Details of the legislation were reported in Government Executive in an article by Eric Yoder.

The bill also would allow those receiving monthly payments to change the amount of their annuity at any time, instead of only once per year. Participants could change the frequency of payments as well.

In a statement on the House floor, Cummings said it is important to provide new ways for federal employees and retirees to manage their TSP accounts, given the fact that the law governing the program has not been updated since its inception 30 years ago.

“This is a common sense, good government bill,” Cummings said.

“With greater flexibility, studies show that participants are more likely to keep their assets in their TSP accounts.”

TSP officials said in April that they had found employees and retirees have long wanted the added flexibility that would be offered under the bill.

Currently, federal employees and retirees who wish to make age-based withdrawals can only do so once while employed by the government, and then they cannot make a partial withdrawal after they leave their job.

Those who have already left government can make one partial post-separation withdrawal, but then must move to full withdrawal options.

A companion bill (S 873), introduced by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Tom Carper (D-Del.), was approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in July.

Today, the 5.1 million TSP account holders—all current and former federal and military personnel—can withdraw their money in one of three ways, or in combination: as an annuity, in a lump sum or in equal monthly payments.

Many TSP investors transfer their money out and close their accounts after leaving federal employment or the military, in large part because of the limited range of withdrawal options.

In asking Congress to expand those choices, the TSP governing board has argued that even though account holders cannot make additional investments after separation, by leaving their funds with the TSP they could continue to benefit from features including the program’s low investment fees.

Many thanks to MM&P member Jeffrey Allen Sousa for bringing the legislation described in this article to our attention.

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The Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee (MERPAC) and its working groups are scheduled to meet Oct. 26-7 at the U.S. Coast Guard National Maritime Center in Martinsburg, W. Va.

Although the meetings are open to the public, attendees must pre-register to be admitted.

Additional details about the location, point of contact, how to submit comments, and the agenda can be found in the Federal Register in notice document 82 FR 44433.

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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 Amanda Meadows, Admissions Coordinator, toll-free at 866-656-5568 or by e-mail:

Why not try our on-line calendar to register for class:

Please note the special addition to our on-campus schedule of MSC classes marked with an asterisk (*), which are not normally scheduled to be held at MITAGS.

AB – Contact Admissions

AIS-1 – Automatic Identifications Systems Orientation: Contact Admissions

ARPA-OIC – Automated Radar Plotting Aids: 1/16/18

AZIPOD 2-Day – Contact Admissions

BRM-35 – Bridge Resource Management: 11/13/17, 2/26/18

BRMP –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 11/14/17, 1/16/18, 2/22/18,3/29/18

BRMP-EMR –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots with Emergency Shiphandling: Contact Admissions

BRMP-Refresher – 3/26/18

BT – Basic Safety Training: 1/15/18, 4/9/18

BT-Revalidation (2-day) (Must have 1 year of seatime in last 5 years) –11/8/17, 12/12/17, 2/7/18, 3/6/18, 4/2/18, 4/30/18, 6/18/18

BT-Refresher (3-day) – 11/8/17, 12/11/17, 2/7/18, 3/5/18, 4/29/18

CHS-OIC – Cargo Handling Basic: 10/30/17

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

ADVSTB-CMM – Advanced Stability: 12/11/17, 1/29/18, 4/2/18, 6/11/18

ADVWX-CMM – Advanced Meteorology: 12/4/17, 1/22/18, 3/12/18, 6/4/18

CHS-CMM – Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 4/9/18

CM-OPS 1 – Chief Mate Operations – Week 1: 12/4/17

CM-OPS 2 Maersk – Chief Mate Operations II Maersk Specific: 12/11/17

ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display Information Systems: 1/15/18, 3/26/18,6/25/18

LMS – Leadership and Managerial Skills (Management Level – Formerly MCL-CMM): 1/8/18, 2/19/18, 5/14/18, 6/18/18

MPP-CMM – Marine Propulsion Plants: 11/27/17, 3/5/18

SEC-APPS – Practical Defense Tactics: 3/12/18

SHMGT-CMM- Ship Management (2 weeks): 10/30/17, 4/23/18

SHS-ADV-I-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 10/30/17, 12/4/17,1/15/18, 2/5/18, 3/5/18, 3/19/18, 4/9/18, 4/23/18, 5/7/18, 6/4/18, 6/18/18

SHS-ADV-II-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 11/6/17, 12/11/17,1/22/18, 2/12/18, 3/12/18, 3/26/18, 4/16/18, 4/30/18, 5/14/18, 6/11/18,6/25/18

**SHS-ADV-I & II now approved to include SAR-CMM assessments at MITAGS effective immediately**

VPEN-CMM – Voyage Planning & Electronic Navigation: 10/23/17, 3/19/18

WKP-CMM – Advanced Watchkeeping: 11/13/17, 5/7/18cnav

CNAV-OIC – Celestial Navigation: 11/6/17

CONT PLNG – Contingency Planning Workshop: Contact Admissions

CRISIS-COMMS – Crisis Communications: 2/19/18

CRSMGT – Crisis Management and Human Behavior – Contact Admissions

CDMGT – Crowd Management – Contact Admissions

CSE – Confined Space Entry: 1/15/18

CSE-AWR – Confined Space Entry Awareness: Contact Admissions

DDE – Great Lakes: 1/22/18

DPA – Contact Admissions

ECDIS for Pilots – 11/14/17, 2/20/18

ERM – Engine Resource Management: Contact Admissions

FF-BADV – Fire Fighting Combined Basic & Advanced: 1/15/18, 4/9/18

FF-ADV-Rev (1-day) (Must have 1 year of seatime in last 5 years) – Advanced Fire Fighting Revalidation: 11/7/17, 12/14/17, 2/6/18, 3/8/18, 4/4/18, 5/2/18,6/20/18

FF-ADV-REF (2-day) – Advanced Fire Fighting Refresher: 11/12/17, 12/9/17,2/10/18, 3/3/18, 4/27/18

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep, & Medications: Contact Admissions

GL-Pilot – Great Lakes Pilotage Familiarization: 1/19/18

GMDSS – Global Maritime Distress and Safety System: 3/5/18

HAZ – Hazardous Materials (5 day): 11/27/17, 5/21/18

IEN – Integrated Electronic Navigation – 11/28/17

LAP – 2/26/18

LAP-Great Lakes – License Advancement Program – Great Lakes: 1/22/18

LAP-ORG3rd – License Advancement Program for Original 3rd Mate, Oceans, Any Gross
Ton License: 12/4/17

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 3/28/18

LNG-TPIC – 12/4/17

LTS –Leadership and Teamworking Skills (Formerly MCL-OIC): Contact Admissions (*2-Evening Session)

MEECE – Management of Electrical and Electronic Control Equipment (Assessments not included): Contact Admissions

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge: 10/23/17, 1/22/18, 3/19/18, 5/7/18

MED-PIC-REF– Medical Person in Charge Refresher: 11/13/17, 12/4/17, 1/8/18, 4/23/18, 6/25/18

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 10/23/17, 11/27/17, 1/22/18, 3/19/18, 4/16/18, 5/7/18

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing: 10/28/17, 11/6/17, 12/15/17, 1/13/18, 1/27/18, 2/5/18, 3/9/18, 4/5/18, 5/3/18, 5/12/18, 6/21/18

MSA –Maritime Security Awareness: Contact Admissions

[MSC – Military Sealift Command Courses]

MSC-CBRD-1 – Military Sealift Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense Orientation (Basic): 2/23/18, 5/24/18, 6/8/18

MSC-DC – Military Sealift Command Damage Control: 2/21/18, 5/22/18, 6/6/18

*MSC-ENVPRO – 2/25/18, 6/3/18

*MSC-FF-HELO – 6/4/18

MSC-SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualifications: 1/8/18, 2/26/18, 5/14/18, 6/11/18

*MSC-Security Watch Basic – 2/24/18, 5/13/18, 6/9/18

*MSC-Security Watch Advanced – 1/12/18, 3/2/18, 5/18/18, 6/10/18

*MSC-Ship’s Reaction Force – 1/13/18, 3/3/18, 5/19/18, 6/15/18

NSAP-MMP – Navigational Skills Assessment Program-MM&P – 10/30/17, 1/22/18, 1/24/18, 3/29/18

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 1/15/18

ROR-1N – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 11/1/17, 11/8/17, 11/15/17, 11/29/17, 12/6/17, 12/13/17, 1/10/18, 1/31/18, 2/7/18, 2/21/18, 3/7/18, 3/21/18

ROU-OIC – Radar Observer Program – Unlimited: 11/27/18, 1/8/18

SAR – Search & Rescue – (Now with OIC and CMM assessments): Contact Admissions

SHS-BAS-OIC – Basic Shiphandling: 10/23/17, 1/29/18

SHS-EMR5 – Emergency Shiphandling-5 Day – 10/23/17, 11/27/17, 2/19/18, 4/2/18, 5/21/18

SMS – Contact Admissions

STB-OIC – Ship Construction and Basic Stability: 1/22/18

TCNAV/CO – Terrestrial Navigation and Compasses: 1/29/18

TPIC – Tankerman Person in Charge: 2/12/18

TRAC-TUG-2: Contact Admissions

TTT – Contact Admissions

VPDSD – Vessel Personnel with Designated Security Duties: 4/12/18

VSO – Vessel Security Officer: 2/14/18, 4/9/18

WKP-OIC – Watchkeeping (Operational Level): 2/19/18

WX-OIC –Meteorology (Operational Level): 3/19/18

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Spring 2017

For registration, please contact our registrar, Mary McGhee, at 206.838.1126 or You can also view our schedule and enroll online at

October 2017

21-22 Basic Training – Revalidation
21-23 Basic Training – Refresher
23rd Radar Renewal
23-27 Leadership & Managerial Skills
25-27 24-Hour HAZWOPER
30-10 GMDSS

November 2017

4-5 Basic Training – Revalidation
4-6 Basic Training – Refresher
6-10 Basic Training
6-10 ECDIS
9th HAZWOPER Refresher
13th Vessel Personnel w/ Designated Security Duties (VPDSD)
13-14 ECDIS for Pilots
13-16 Advanced Firefighting
13-17 Tankship Dangerous Liquids
17th Leadership & Teamworking Skills
17th Flashing Light Exam
18-19 Basic Training – Revalidation
18-20 Basic Training – Refresher
20th Radar Renewal
20-22 Security Officer – Vessel, Company, & Facility
27-29 24-Hour HAZWOPER
27-1 Radar Observer Unlimited
27-1 Basic Shiphandling

December 2017

2-3 Basic Training – Revalidation
2-4 Basic Training – Refresher
4th Flashing Light Exam
4-8 Basic Training
4-8 Leadership & Managerial Skills
4-8 Medical Care Provider
4-15 Medical Person-In-Charge
4-15 GMDSS
8th HAZWOPER Refresher
11th Radar Renewal
11th Vessel Personnel w/ Designated Security Duties (VPDSD)
11-15 Construction & Stability (Operational Level)
11-15 Engine Resource Management
16-17 Basic Training – Revalidation
16-18 Basic Training – Refresher
18-20 Search & Rescue
18-21 Advanced Firefighting
18-22 ECDIS
20-22 24-Hour HAZWOPER

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The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly is the official electronic newsletter of the International Organization of Masters, Mates, & Pilots, ILA, AFL-CIO, 700 Maritime Blvd. Suite B, Linthicum Heights, MD 21090-1953. Phone: 410-850-8700; Fax: 410-850-0973. All rights reserved. The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly © 2017. Articles can be reprinted without prior permission if credit is given to The MM&P WheelhouseWeekly. For subscriptions, address changes or messages to the editor or to MM&P headquarters, e-mail Back issues of The Weekly are posted on