Wheelhouse Weekly – October 29, 2013

October 29th 2013


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

Volume 17 . . . Number 44 . . . Oct. 29, 2013


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


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced that the federal government will no longer print paper nautical charts of U.S. coasts and the Great Lakes effective April 13, 2014. The agency said it will continue to provide nautical charts in a variety of forms, including full-size nautical chart PDF files, which will be offered free of charge on a trial basis for the next three months.

In an official statement, NOAA Coast Survey Marine Chart Division Chief Shep Smith said that advances in digital technologies had led the government to take this step. “Our concern is making sure that boaters, fishing vessels and commercial mariners all have the most accurate, up-to-date nautical chart that is available,” he said. “Advances in digital and electronic technologies now put more accurate charts at the mariners’ fingertips faster, and with less expense, than was possible years ago.”

He said millions of boaters are increasingly relying on “Print on Demand” (POD) charts that are updated to the date of printing, tolerant of water and UV damage and that stand up to repeated folding, writing and erasing. The agency says NOAA POD charts meet carriage requirements for vessels required to carry marine charts under 33 CFR 164.01 and 33 CFR 164.33.

The agency also offers electronic navigational charts and raster navigational charts. The NOAA ENC is produced from a vector database of features. It supports real-time navigation as well as collision and grounding avoidance. ENCs are used by many computer navigation programs and mobile apps, as well as ECDIS. They are updated with weekly Notice to Mariners corrections and are available for free download from the Coast Survey website. The RNC is a geo-referenced digital image of the traditional paper chart, used in a variety of electronic charting systems RNCs are updated with weekly Notice to Mariners corrections.

NOAA says it will make printable PDFs of all charts available free, on a trial basis, from Oct. 22, 2013 to Jan 22, 2014. The PDFs will be up-to-date for the date they are downloaded. The agency says that “anyone can get the PDF nautical charts printed at the printer of their choice.” To download any chart, go to:

The agency reminds those who use its charts to report discrepancies by going to


The two men abducted by pirates from an American-flagged oil industry vessel off the Nigerian coast last Thursday “are clearly in extreme danger,” says MM&P President Donald Marcus. “Your heart goes out to them and their families.” The kidnapped men, the captain and chief engineer of the C-RETRIEVER, which is owned by a Louisiana-based marine transport firm, took place near the Nigerian city of Brass. Marcus was interviewed on CNN’s The World Lead with Jake Tapper on Oct. 24.

In the televised segment, Marcus explained how the situation off the Nigerian coast differs from that depicted in the film “Captain Phillips,” which tells the story of the MAERSK ALABAMA hijacking. “We are not talking about cargo vessels in this case but about stationary oil platforms serviced by low freeboard supply boats that are usually quite slow,” he told Tapper.

In recent months, oil servicing vessels in the Gulf of Guinea have increasingly become targets of pirates who abduct crew members for ransom. Maritime authorities report that the coast of Nigeria has been the site of the only crew kidnappings worldwide this year, with 132 crew members taken hostage and seven ships hijacked.


Russia has dropped piracy charges against the crew of the ARCTIC SUNRISE, a Greenpeace International ship which staged a protest in the Arctic on a Russian oil rig last month. Although the piracy charges have been dropped, Russia is still accusing the group of “hooliganism,” which carries a sentence of up to seven years.

Russia announced it was dropping the piracy charge in an Oct. 24 statement after international protest over the detention of the crew. “I would ask [the Russians] to open a dictionary and read the definition of piracy,” commented Natasha Wilcox, whose father is the captain of the ship. Hundreds of thousands of letters of protest have been sent to Russian officials demanding that the crewmembers be set free.

Nautilus, which is spearheading official efforts to obtain the crew’s release, represents the captain as well as 23,000 other ship’s officers in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Switzerland. “As an organization representing merchant seafarers, we are extremely concerned to see the crew of an environmental group’s ship being exposed to such criminal allegations,” says Nautilus Secretary General Mark Dickinson. MM&P has gone on record expressing its strong support for efforts by Nautilus to secure the release of the crew. 


The Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), has written to members of the House of Representatives urging them to vote in favor of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 (HR 3080). “Our nation’s maritime system has been critically underfunded, and the reforms in this bill would bring a much needed increase to harbor maintenance funding to help improve our ports and waterways and create middle class maritime and construction jobs,” says TTD President Edward Wytkind.

In 1986, the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) and the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) were established to provide a dedicated revenue stream funded through user fees to provide for the operation and maintenance of channels in ports and harbors. The HMT is charged on the value of cargo arriving in U.S. ports, and the money collected is then deposited into the HMTF. In recent years, however, Congress has diverted money from the HMTF to purposes other than harbor maintenance. In FY 2011, for instance, barely half the funds collected by the HMT were used for their intended purpose, creating a backlog of critical maintenance projects in our nation’s harbors and coastal waterways. 

“This neglect of maintenance projects has a direct and damaging economic impact,” Wytkind says. “The Army Corps of Engineers estimates that the full channel dimensions at the nation’s 59 busiest ports are available less than 35 percent of the time. Almost 30 percent of vessels traveling through U.S. ports are constrained due to the inadequate conditions of our navigation channels, resulting in billions of dollars in lost economic activity and job growth opportunities. This lack of investment in our maritime infrastructure is making America less competitive as our international competitors invest billions to boost their maritime transportation capabilities. For instance, China plans to invest over $40 billion dollars in their ports over the next five years, more than the U.S. has invested over the past 50 years.”

Wytkind said HR 3080 creates a framework to bring harbor maintenance funding to a sustainable level. Specifically, one section of the bill sets appropriations targets under which, beginning in FY 2014, HMTF spending must meet or exceed 65 percent of the HMT tax received in the previous fiscal year. This percentage increases each year until FY 2020 when 80 percent of HMT receipts must be used for harbor maintenance. With HMT bringing in about $1.6 billion in recent years, these reforms would bring a meaningful and immediate increase to HMTF spending. The incremental increases in subsequent years would further help reduce the $2.2 billion harbor maintenance backlog.

Furthermore, the legislation provides an incentive to meet these targeted appropriations levels by allowing some flexibility for use of HMTF funds when the targets are met. Real investment in harbor maintenance is vital to the health of an industry that supports 500,000 jobs, plays a critical role in expanding U.S. exports and is the gateway to international trade and humanitarian aid. HR 3080 will help improve our maritime infrastructure and keep pace with our international competitors, and will also create thousands of good-paying construction and maritime jobs during what remains a slow economic recovery, Wytkind said.


Pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia are at the lowest level since 2006 due to tougher ship security and more Western naval patrols, according to the United Nations. In a report to the U.N. Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said there were 17 attacks in the first nine months of 2013, compared to 99 attacks in the same period last year. According to the report, however, as of Oct. 17, 60 seafarers were still being held by Somali pirates, most of them ashore. In some cases, the whereabouts of the hostages are unknown.


The U.S. Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center (NMC) says that STCW holders who had an open application pending in the NMC system prior to Oct. 18 may not be able to obtain online status updates, despite the fact that their applications are still pending.

The agency said that in preparation for implementing the upcoming regulation which codifies the STCW Convention amendments, it has begun to “administratively create” mariner medical certificate applications in its own system for mariners who hold active STCW endorsements.

“This initial implementation action has caused those STCW holders who had an open application in our system prior to Oct. 18 difficulty locating the status of their current application when using the NMC’s on-line Application Status Tracker,” the agency says. “The Status Tracker is designed to show only the most recent application [and] these new medical certificate applications now show as the most recent.” The NMC underlined the fact that the administratively created applications “have in no way impacted the mariner’s own pending application.”

The agency explains that mariners may receive the following message when attempting to look up their application status using the application ID number: “The information you entered does not match the records in our database. There are numerous reasons why this may have occurred and does not necessarily mean that there is trouble with your application. We request that you contact the National Maritime Center at or 1-888-IASKNMC so that we may review your record to ensure you receive the most accurate information possible.”

Additionally, the agency said, mariners who hold current STCW endorsements may see an application for a medical certificate in the Approved to Print State if they use their personal information to check application tracking. It says that mariners in this situation “are encouraged to contact the NMC using the information above for the status of their current application.” The agency said it would publish additional information regarding medical certificates as soon as possible.


Following the passage of a continuing resolution for federal funding by Congress and subsequent signature of the President, government services were restored on Oct. 17. To mitigate the negative impact caused by the lapse in appropriations, the National Maritime Center (NMC) says it has implemented the following measures:

— Approval to Test (ATT) letters that expire in the months of October or November are extended as valid until Dec. 31, 2013.

— Additional Information (AI) requests to support an application that are set to expire in October or November are also extended to Dec. 31.

— For mariners whose 90-day testing cycles were interrupted by REC closure, the 21 days from Oct. 1 to Oct. 21, 2013 (the date RECs reopened to the public) will not count against the 90-day period.

The agency says it wants to remind mariners to submit application packages, AI and schedule appointments as soon as possible regardless of whether or not the above extensions and provisions apply. It also asks mariners to remember that since seating for examination at RECs is limited, examination appointments should be scheduled as soon as possible.

The agency says other specific circumstances resulting from the lapse in appropriations may be addressed on a case-by-case basis. If you have questions, please contact the NMC at 1-888-IASKNMC (1-888-427-5662) or


Members of the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA) are mourning former MEBA President Jesse Calhoun, who passed away on Oct. 22 at the age of 90. Calhoun served as president of the organization from 1965 to 1985. It is expected that his ashes will be scattered at sea.


The following is the schedule of membership meetings for Pacific Ports for the next two months: San Francisco/Oakland, Oct. 29; Los Angeles/Long Beach, Nov. 13; Honolulu, Nov. 19; and Seattle, Nov. 21.


Pacific Ports have announced the schedule of holiday parties: San Francisco/Oakland, Dec. 6; Los Angeles/Long Beach, Dec. 13 and Seattle, Dec. 18.


The following is the schedule of membership meetings for Pacific Ports for the next two months: San Francisco/Oakland, Oct. 29; Los Angeles/Long Beach, Nov. 13; Honolulu, Nov. 19; and Seattle, Nov. 21.


Pacific Ports have announced the schedule of holiday parties: San Francisco/Oakland, Dec. 6; Los Angeles/Long Beach, Dec. 13 and Seattle, Dec. 18.


The KP Alumni Chesapeake Chapter will host a Veterans Day Commemoration Dinner on Thursday Nov. 7, beginning at 5:30PM. MM&P is cosponsor of this annual event, which will be hosted at The Conference Center at the Maritime Institute, 692 Maritime Boulevard, Linthicum Heights, MD 21090. Special guest speaker is Rear Adm. Mark H. “Buz” Buzby, former Commander, Military Sealift Command. A hosted tour of the MITAGS Simulator Technology Center will be held at 4:30. There will also be business networking opportunities and industry table top exhibitors. The cost of the complete dinner program is $35 advance registration, $40 for payments received at the door. For more information, go to: or contact Gary G. Hicks,


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.


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: 11/21/13

Automated Radar Plotting Aids: 1/21/14

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

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

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

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

CMM-ADVWX – Advanced Meteorology: 11/18/13, 3/10/14

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

CMM-CHS – Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 11/4/13, 2/10/14

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

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

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

CMM-VPEN – 12/9/13

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

CNAV –11/4/13


ENVIRO-Regs Permit – Environmental Regulations Permit – 1/8/14

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

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: 1/22/14

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

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

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

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

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

MSC-CBRD-1 – Military Sealift Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense Orientation (Basic): 11/20

MSC-DC – Military Sealift Command Damage Control (4 Evenings): 11/18-11/19

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



MSC-SRF – 11/7-11/9

ROR-1N – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 11/13/13, 12/4/13, 12/11/13


SEC-MSA –11/12PM, 12/10/13 PM

SEC-VPDSD – 11/13/13, 12/11/13

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

SHS-BAS – Basic Shiphandling:  11/18/13

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 – 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.

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