Wheelhouse Weekly – September 1st, 2020

September 2nd 2020

Volume 25… Number 35… Sept. 1, 2020


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An industry survey conducted by the maritime publication Lloyd’s List has found that the worldwide crew change crisis has not improved despite five months of intense advocacy work by a variety of organizations.

Most international officials and major shipowners surveyed believe efforts to restart the crew change process “have not improved the hidden humanitarian crisis keeping crew at sea” reports Richard Meade in an Aug. 26 article titled “Crew change crisis deepens amid bureaucracy, logistics and cost.”

Twelve major shipowners surveyed by Lloyd’s List said that the situation overall has deteriorated, and that attempts to address it are becoming more complicated and more expensive.

This month, United Nations agencies and the International Maritime Organization will double down on their efforts, with the IMO planning an extraordinary session to address the situation.

Although many ports are technically open for crew change, Lloyd’s List reports, legal and bureaucratic requirements and pandemic-related travel restrictions are changing on a near daily basis.

The International Chamber of Shipping and other industry associations say that globally, fewer than 35 percent of crews are being changed out according to schedule.

This means that hundreds of thousands of mariners are still stranded aboard ships for months beyond contracted agreements.

The consequences for shipowners include a tripling of the expense of handling crew changes, the need to establish large shore-side staffs to manage the situation and the need to reroute ships because crew change plans have fallen through.

Government breaks and summer holidays have further hindered efforts to unblock restrictions.

United Nations agencies and maritime industry associations are planning to attack the problem again with a coordinated campaign to convince the world’s governments to recognize seafarers as essential workers and exempt them from some travel restrictions.

The IMO and the International Labor Organization will spearhead the effort for the UN, with support from the World Health Organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Organization for Migration, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and several other international agencies.

The multi-agency approach, Lloyd’s List says, “does mark a significant step up in the urgency being applied to the problem and the diplomatic rhetoric being targeted at ‘key national decision makers.’”

The new effort will also seek to mobilize support from multinationals and other “businesses by underlining the risk that the logjam poses to the international supply chain.

“This [resurgence in diplomatic efforts] is all well and good, but you will start to see seafarers say ‘thank you, but it’s time to walk away’ because you can’t keep people on board like this for months with no hope and no end in sight,” Captain Kuba Szymanski, secretary general of the International Ship Managers’ Association, was quoted by Lloyd’s List as saying.

An international summit held in June by Britain to address the issue concluded that “the inability of ship operators worldwide to conduct ship’s crew changes is the single most pressing maritime operational challenge to the safe and efficient movement of global trade,” adding that “a part from humanitarian issues, there is an increasing risk that fatigue and mental health issues could lead to serious maritime accidents.”

The 13 governments that signed on to the pledge originally have since been joined by the United States, France and Georgia.

One shipowner who was interviewed by Lloyd’s List commented that, “some of the conversations we are having on a daily basis with national government representatives are crazy…”

Despite some progress exchanging crews in many locations, another said, “it remains a fight to get people back on time.”

“We share the same frustrations as the shipowners,” said Stephen Cotton, general secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation.

“Aside from a notable exception in India where we are seeing some real progress, I completely agree–the general situation is getting worse not better.”

“We’re getting more calls than ever from frustrated seafarers who are at the end of their tether and asking what they can do to get off.”

“We’ve been using this period of summer downtime in governments to plan what the most impactful strategies are that we can put in place to help seafarers. We have to get this back on the agenda.”

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To raise awareness of how important mariners are to the world, the IMO has selected “Seafarers: at the core of shipping’s future” as the World Maritime theme for 2021.

The focus on the men and women of the maritime industry comes as the Covid-19 crisis has placed extraordinary, unprecedented demands on them.

Pandemic-related restrictions and border closures have forced hundreds of thousands to over-extend their shipboard assignments.

“The crew change crisis further highlights seafarers’ exceptional contribution as key essential workers, on the front line delivering world trade through a pandemic and in ordinary times,” said IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim.

He said Covid-19 has demonstrated how important it is to facilitate the safe and efficient operation of maritime transport in the context of global supply chains.

“Through these difficult times, the international community has seen how seafarers’ ability to deliver vital goods, including medical supplies and food, has been central to responding to this pandemic,” he said, adding that “the professionalism and dedication of the world’s seafarers” are key to efforts to overcoming the crisis.

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Members of a task force appointed to advise on the future of the Alaska state ferry system have indicated that the level of funding proposed by Republican Governor Mike Dunleavy is not enough to keep it operational.

The members of the advisory panel, known as the AMHS Reshaping Work Group Task Force, were appointed by the governor himself.

They are to release a final report by the end of the month.

In the meantime, statements made by some members indicate they believe that ferry system funding will have to be raised to a level closer to what it was two years ago, before Dunleavy imposed massive cuts that have led to dramatic reductions in service, in particular for Alaskans who live in remote communities.

“If we drive the system down to a $24 million subsidy, not only are we critically injuring the system, but we’re probably just stepping over dollars to pick up dimes because it’s going to cost us so much more as a state to try and sustain these communities that we’re crippling,” commented one member of the task force, Wanetta Ayers, the division director of the Alaska State Office of Economic Development.

The task force is also looking at feasibility studies on the governor’s proposal to privatize the system, all of which have concluded that no private operator would be willing to take it over because it would be impossible to turn a profit.

The state government has just announced that it will implement additional service cuts starting in October because of a drop in revenue caused by the pandemic.

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The US Army Corps of Engineers has announced that construction of a second Poe-sized lock for the Great Lakes navigation system is set to enter a new phase.

The new lock, which will be constructed in place of the decommissioned Davis and Sabin locks, will be conducted in three major phases.

All work is proceeding according to schedule despite the coronavirus pandemic, the USACE Detroit District reported in an August press release.

Dredging for the new lock began in June with the deepening of the upstream channel and the removal of bedrock.

The next stage, expected this month, will be the decision on the contract award for the second phase of work, which will begin next spring.

The second phase involves rehabilitation and stabilization of the upstream approach walls to allow for modern vessels to tie up and wait their turn to pass through the new lock.

The third phase, construction of the new lock chamber, will include rehabilitating downstream approach walls and is nearing its 70 percent design milestone.

The Soo Locks, situated on the St. Mary’s River at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., allow vessels to transit the 21-foot elevation change at the St. Mary’s Falls Canal.

Over 85 percent of commodity tonnage through the Soo Locks is restricted because of vessel size to the Poe Lock.

The new lock project will construct a second Poe-sized lock, sized 110 by 1,200 feet.

The Department of Homeland Security has deemed the Soo Locks nationally critical infrastructure essential to America’s manufacturing and national security.

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The National Maritime Center is continuing the process of reopening the Regional Examination Centers and Monitoring Units that were closed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Boston REC reopened Aug. 31 for limited examination services. Mariners seeking to schedule examinations may do so by emailing

NMC will reopen the RECs in Memphis, Miami, Long Beach and Toledo for limited examination services beginning Tuesday, Sept. 8. Mariners seeking to schedule exams should email or call:

REC Long Beach –
REC Memphis –
REC Miami – or (305) 536-4331
REC Toledo –

Additionally, as previously announced, RECs Honolulu, Houston and Juneau, and Monitoring Units Ketchikan and San Juan are now open for limited services.

Mariners seeking to schedule exams at these locations may do so by contacting the appropriate email address or phone number:

REC Honolulu –
REC Houston –
REC Juneau –
MU Ketchikan – (907) 225-4496 (extension #3)
MU San Juan – (787) 729-2368

Exam appointment request emails should include the applicant’s name, mariner reference number, requested testing date(s), phone number and a copy of their Approved to Test Letter(s).

Exam services will be by appointment only. No walk-in appointments are available and all other application customer service functions will continue to be handled remotely.

Mariners will be subject to Covid-19 screening questions and a temperature check.

Mariners experiencing Covid-19 symptoms will not be permitted to enter the REC/MU and will need to reschedule their appointment.

Mariners are required to wear a face covering at all times. Those who refuse to wear a face covering, or who remove face coverings during exams, will be dismissed and could be subject to examination module failure.

People with documented health issues which prevent them from wearing face coverings must notify the REC/MU when scheduling an appointment.

Mariners should bring their own #2 pencils, photo ID, a non-programmable calculator and plotting equipment. No other personal belongings are allowed in the facility.

All counter service appointments and hand delivery of applications remain suspended.

The Customer Service Center is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.

You can reach the call center at 1-888-IASKNMC (427-5662) and

The NMC said it will announce further REC/MU openings shortly.

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Civilian mariners who have been trapped aboard Military Sealift Command vessels for months by the Navy’s “gangways-up” order have been interviewed by the Norfolk daily news outlet The Virginian Pilot.

MSC has motivated the order, which applies exclusively to Civil Service mariners, as a protective measure to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Civilian mariners “say they’re stuck on Navy ships while sailors come and go,” reports Katherine Hafner in an article published on Aug. 29.

She reports on one mariner who told her that despite a series of worryingly high blood pressure readings, he was told by his chain of command that he should not leave his ship to go to a hospital.

He disembarked anyway in May to see a doctor, then decided to leave MSC because he wasn’t willing to undergo the 14-day, one-room quarantine that his command told him would be necessary if he returned.

“It’s sort of a feeling that I got out of prison,” he was quoted as saying.

More than 5,000 civilian mariners who work for MSC are affected by the “gangways-up” order, which has prevented them—in some cases for months—from returning to families who may even live nearby.

“Meanwhile,” Haffner writes, “they’ve watched military personnel and contractors come on and off and go home to their families at night–not bound by the same rules.”

“There is growing anger, frustration and despair throughout the fleet,” MM&P President Don Marcus and the presidents of AMO and the SIU wrote in a July letter to Rear Adm. Michael Wettlaufer, who heads MSC.

“People have a breaking point and many of these crewmembers are nearing it.”

The frustration comes from the disparate treatment, mariners say. As federal workers, they’re confined to ships while military personnel are not under the same order.

Some mariners also are struggling because they’re months behind their scheduled relief dates.

One mariner died by suicide earlier this summer, and the unions say the gangways-up order could have contributed.

The unions are pressing the Navy in arbitration and tens of mariners have signed on to a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The attorney representing them called the gangways-up order “unprecedented.”

“I haven’t talked to anyone who isn’t baffled by it,” he added.

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Hear the personal stories of maritime heroes like ferry-boat captain Frank Peters, who piloted the last Staten Island ferry in and out of Manhattan on Sept. 11, during a virtual event sponsored by the Transportation Institute and co-hosted by the New York Council of the Navy League and Turnstile Tours.

Peters, a Navy veteran, was awarded the US Department of Transportation 9/11 Medal.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held via Zoom on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, at 6:00 P.M. Eastern time.

If you would like to submit questions in advance, you may do so via email to You will also be able to submit questions during the event.

To register, go to:

Back to Stories Covered


Somali pirates in August released the last hostages being held in the country as a result of hijackings, according to a report in Safety at Sea.

The three are Iranians who were kidnapped from a fishing vessel, the SIRAJ, on March 25, 2015.

Pirates kidnapped all 19 members of the crew. The Iranians rescued four in November 2015, and several others were released over the years.

The final three were the last remaining maritime hostages held captive in Somalia.

“There are no more maritime hostages in Somalia. These were the last of the piracy era and our Hostages Support Partnership has met its remit to bring home all the forgotten seafarer hostages,” John Steed, response coordinator, Hostages Support Partnership, told SAS.

From 2010 to 2013, Somali pirates held an estimated 3000 people seized during hijackings, according to maritime security consultant Dryad Global.

In 2011, the International Maritime Bureau reported that Somali pirates were responsible for 237 maritime attacks.

But over the past five years, SAS reports, maritime incidents in the Gulf of Aden have decreased significantly, in large part because of the presence of armed, onboard security contractors and widespread adherence to safety protocols.

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All MM&P union halls, the MM&P Plan Office, the MM&P Federal Credit Union and MM&P headquarters will be closed on Monday, Sept. 7, for Labor Day.

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MITAGS West is seeking a part-time instructor responsible for delivering content provided by the organization. Desired qualifications include:

— USCG and/or NFPA approved instructor;

— Train-the-Trainer certification;

— in-depth knowledge of firefighting and maritime industry.

Please submit a cover letter with your resume to MITAGS Human Resource Manager Jane Sibiski,

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Please be advised that as of the June MATES Trustees meeting and through the end of this year, the number of sea days required to receive covered training at MITAGS will now be 42 days.

\\Classes are 5-day unless otherwise noted\\

Class dates followed by an * are full

AB – Able Seaman – 10/5/20

AIS-1 – Automatic Identifications Systems Orientation (1-Day): Not currently scheduled

ARPA-OIC (4-Day) – Automated Radar Plotting Aids: Not currently scheduled

AZIPOD (2-Day) – 10/5/20

BRM-35 – Bridge Resource Management: Not currently scheduled

BRMP –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots (2-Day): 9/15/20
Online: Not currently scheduled

BRMP-EMR –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots with Emergency Shiphandling – (Now also included in BRMP-Refresher) (3-Day): 10/7/20

BRMP-Refresher (Now including Emergency Shiphandling for Pilots) (3-Day) – Not currently scheduled

BT – Basic Safety Training: 10/12/20

BT-Revalidation (2-day) (Must have 1 year of sea service in last 5 years) – 9/23/20*, 10/28/20, 12/15/20

BT-Refresher (3-day) – 9/23/20*, 12/14/20

CHS-OIC – Cargo Handling Basic: 10/26/20

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

ADVSTB-CMM – Advanced Stability: 10/5/20, 11/30/20

ADVWX-CMM – Advanced Meteorology: 9/28/20, 12/7/20

CHS-CMM – Advanced Cargo Operations (10 Days): 10/12/20

CM-OPS 1 – Chief Mate Operations – Week 1: 11/9/20

CM-OPS 2 Maersk – Chief Mate Operations II Maersk Specific: 11/16/20

CM-OPS 2 APL – Chief Mate Operations II APL Specific – Not currently scheduled

ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display Information Systems: 11/9/20

LMS – Leadership and Managerial Skills (Management Level – Formerly MCL-CMM): 11/16/20, 12/14/20

MPP-CMM – Marine Propulsion Plants: 9/14/20 (DCS-1 available on request – contact Admissions)

SEC-APPS – Practical Defense Tactics: Not Currently Scheduled

SHMGT-CMM- Ship Management: 9/21/20

SHS-ADV-I-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 9/14/20, 9/28/20, 10/12/20, 11/2/20, 1/30/20

SHS-ADV-II-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 9/21/20, 10/5/20, 10/19/20, 11/9/20, 12/7/20

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

VPEN-CMM – Voyage Planning & Electronic Navigation: 11/2/20

WKP-CMM – Advanced Watchkeeping: 10/26/20

WX-HW-ATL – Heavy Weather Avoidance Routing: Atlantic Ocean (2-day) – Contact Admissions

WX-HW-IND – Heavy Weather Avoidance Routing: Indian Ocean (2-day) – Contact Admissions

WX-HW-PAC – Heavy Weather Avoidance Routing: Pacific Ocean (2-day) – Contact Admissions

CIW-DPA/IA – Continual Improvement Workshop: Designated Person Ashore & Internal Auditor (3-Day) ** This course is NOT covered by the MATES Program ** – 10/14/20

CIW-SMS – Continual Improvement Workshop: Successful Safety Management (2-Day) – Not currently scheduled

CNAV-OIC (15-Day) – Celestial Navigation: 11/2/20

CRISIS-COMMS – Crisis Communications (1-Day): Not currently scheduled

CRSMGT – Crisis Management and Human Behavior (1-Day) – Not currently scheduled

CDMGT – Crowd Management (1-Day) – Not currently scheduled

CSE – Confined Space Entry (3-Day): Not currently scheduled

CSE-AWR – Confined Space Entry Awareness (2-Day): Not currently scheduled

CY-MAR – Cyber-Skilled Mariner ** This course is NOT covered by the MATES Program ** – Not currently scheduled

DDE – Great Lakes (20-Day): Not currently scheduled

ECDIS for Pilots (2-Day) – 12/3/20

ERM – Engine Resource Management: 12/7/20

ADV-FF – Advanced Fire-Fighting (4-day) – Not currently scheduled

FF-BADV – Fire Fighting Combined Basic & Advanced: 10/12/20

FF-ADV-Rev (1-day) (Must have 1 year of sea service in last 5 years) – Advanced Fire Fighting Revalidation: 9/2/20, 9/22/20, 10/27/20, 12/17/20

FF-ADV-REF (2-day) – Advanced Fire Fighting Refresher: 9/26/20, 12/12/20

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep, & Medications (1-Day): 9/15/20
Online: 9/17/20, 10/15/20

GL-Pilot – Great Lakes Pilotage Familiarization (2-Day): Not currently scheduled

GMDSS – Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (10-Day): Not currently scheduled

HAZ – Hazardous Materials (5 day): 11/16/20

IEN – Integrated Electronic Navigation (3-Day) – Not currently scheduled

LAP – License Advancement Program for Mate to Master (20-Day): 9/28/20

LAP-Great Lakes – License Advancement Program – Great Lakes (15-Day): Not currently scheduled

LAP-ORG3rd – License Advancement Program for Original 3rd Mate, Oceans, Any Gross
Ton License (15-Day): Contact Admissions

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage (1-Day): 9/16/20

LNG-TPIC (10-Day) – 11/30/20

LTS –Leadership and Teamworking Skills (Formerly MCL-OIC) (1-Day): 9/21/20

MEECE – Management of Electrical and Electronic Control Equipment (Assessments not included): 11/30/20

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge (10-Day): 9/28/20*, 11/30/20

MED-PIC-REF– Medical Person in Charge Refresher: 10/19/20

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 9/28/20*, 11/30/20

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing (1-Day): 9/3/20, 9/21/20, 10/3/20, 10/26/20, 12/5/20, 12/18/20

[MSC – Military Sealift Command Courses]

MSC-CBRD-1 – Military Sealift Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense Orientation (Basic) (1-Day): 9/11/20, 11/10/20

MSC-DC – Military Sealift Command Damage Control (2-day): 9/9/20, 10/30/20

MSC-ENVPRO (1-Day) – 11/1/20

MSC-FF-HELO (2-Day) – 10/28/20

MSC-SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualifications (4-Day): 9/14/20, 11/2/20

MSC-Security Watch Basic (1-Day) – 9/12/20, 11/2/20

MSC-Security Watch Advanced (1-Day) – 9/13/20, 11/6/20

MSC-Ship’s Reaction Force (3-Day) – 9/18/20, 11/7/20

NDMS-ENAV – Navigational Decision Making Series – Best Practice in eNav (3-Day) – 11/30/20

NSAP-MMP – Navigational Skills Assessment Program-MM&P (2-Day) – 10/26/20*, 10/28/20*, 12/14/20*, 12/16/20

PSC – Personal Survival Craft (5-Day) – 10/19/20

PSC-REF – Personal Survival Craft Refresher (2-Day) – 12/10/20

RFPNW – Ratings Forming Part of a Navigational Watch (3-day) – 9/30/20

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal (1-Day): 9/21/20

ROR-1N – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes (1-Night): 9/15/20, 12/14/20

ROU-OIC – Radar Observer Program – Unlimited: Not currently scheduled

SAR – Search & Rescue – (Now with OIC and CMM assessments) (3-Day): 10/14/20, 11/30/20

SHS-BAS-OIC – Basic Shiphandling: 10/19/20

SHS-EMR5 – Emergency Shiphandling (5 Day) – 11/16/20*, 12/14/20*

STB-OIC – Ship Construction and Basic Stability: 9/8/20

TCNAV/CO – Terrestrial Navigation and Compasses (15-Day): Not currently scheduled

TPIC – Tankerman Person in Charge: Not currently scheduled

TRAC-TUG-2 (2-Day): Not currently scheduled

TTT – ** This course is NOT covered by the MATES Program ** Not currently scheduled

VPDSD – Vessel Personnel with Designated Security Duties (1-Day): Not Currently Scheduled

VSO – Vessel Security Officer (3-Day): 9/9/20

WKP-OIC – Watchkeeping (Operational Level) (10-Day): 10/5/20

WX-OIC –Meteorology (Operational Level): 9/14/20

Back to Stories Covered


Schedule of Courses – Please also see our schedule and enroll online at

For Registration Contact our Admissions Department: 206.441.2880 or

September 2020

14-18 Engine Resource Management
14-18 Basic Training
14-2 License Preparation (OICNW)
21-25 Management of Electrical and Electronic Control Equipment (MEECE)
21-2 GMDSS
28-29 Basic Training Revalidation
30th Advanced Firefighting Revalidation

October 2020

12-16 ECDIS
12-16 Ship Construction and Basic Stability
12-16 Basic Training
12-16 Medical Care Provider
12-23 Medical Person-In-Charge
19-20 Basic Training Revalidation
19-23 Advanced Meteorology
19-6 Celestial Navigation
21st Medical DOT
22nd Advanced Firefighting Revalidation
26-29 Advanced Firefighting
26-30 Advanced Shiphandling I

November 2020

2-6 Advanced Shiphandling II
2-6 Radar Observer Unlimited
2-6 Basic Training
9-12 Advanced Firefighting
9-13 Leadership & Managerial Skills
9-13 Medical Care Provider
9-20 Medical Person-In-Charge
13th Advanced Firefighting Revalidation
16-17 Basic Training Revalidation
16-18 Security Officer – Vessel, Company and Facility
16-19 ARPA
16-20 Advanced Stability
30-4 Basic Training

December 2020

4, 7-8 Basic Training Refresher
7-8 Basic Training Revalidation
7-11 Medical Care Provider
7-18 Medical Person-In-Charge
9th Advanced Firefighting Revalidation
10-11 Advanced Firefighting Refresher

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The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly is the official electronic newsletter of the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots, 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 © 2020. Articles can be reprinted without prior permission if credit is given to The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly. For subscriptions, address changes or messages to the editor or to MM&P headquarters, e-mail Back issues of The Weekly are posted on