Wheelhouse Weekly – September 8th, 2020

September 9th 2020

Volume 25… Number 36… Sept. 8, 2020


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The following is a special report from the International Transport Workers’ Federation.

On day one of the implementation of Kenya’s new Covid-19 safe crew change guidelines, ITF inspector Betty Makena Mutugi set her alarm for 0400 to make sure she was at the port of Mombasa by 0600.

She was waiting when three seafarers–one Romanian and two Ukrainian–signed off the general cargo ship MV PETRA II.

“Are we going home,” they asked. “When? Today?” one asked as he jumped for joy.

Since July 21, more than 100 mariners have disembarked in the port of Mombasa to board flights home, the ITF reports.

“Each time crew embark and disembark they are so happy, so excited,” Betty says.

She gives them her phone to call their families. She can hear them down the line shouting in delight. Some crewmembers want to kiss her.

One of the dock workers came up to her and asked what was happening.

“When we do the lashing, we talk to the crew,” he said. “They are tired. They never smile. Now they are happy. I’ve never seen them laughing. What’s going on?”

Betty said crewmembers often request sleeping aids and complain of stress and depression when in port during the pandemic.

One seafarer told her it was like being in a prison. He had gone for months without leaving the ship.

When he knew he was finally going home, he thanked her and called her his hero. She said: “Thank ITF and the government of Kenya.”

The ITF has been a key player every step of the way from the inception of the International Maritime Organization “safe crew change” policy to its implementation in Kenya.

The IMO now reports that around 50 nations are implementing its safe crew change protocol.

After Betty first received correspondence from London asking her to push Kenya to adopt the protocol, she was on the phone to government officials the next day.

She says she insisted that unions must be involved if it was going to work.

She recalls that on the first day, all the key stakeholders–the Ministry of Transport, State Department of Shipping and Maritime Affairs, the Maritime Authority, Kenya Ports Authority, Kenya Coast Guard, Port Health, Public Health, Kenya Airways, the ITF, the Seafarers Union of Kenya and the Kenya Ship Agent Association–worked together, without stopping to eat, and with only water on the table, to reach an agreement on how crew change should take place.

“Some of us had never met before,” she said. “When we left we all had each other’s contacts.”

So successful is the nation’s new crew change protocol that ships are changing course to come to the port, the ITF says.

Since the adoption on July 6 of guidelines on crew change and repatriation while observing measures to prevent transmission of Covid-19, Mombasa has been processing up to three or four crew changes on some days.

Determined to make the system work, for the first four days Betty would be at the port by 0600. She would escort the seafarers to the airport to wave them goodbye.

At first, there were problems with airlines and transfers. One seafarer got stuck in Dubai for days. Now most of them fly with Kenya Airways, but that is not mandatory.

Now that the protocol has been fully implemented, Betty says, she only needs to make a quick phone call or be copied into the emails.

This is how the process works.

Crewmembers leaving a ship at the Port of Mombasa must have a confirmed flight out of the country within 48 hours, the necessary documents and clearance by the port health authorities.

They board a dedicated vehicle that can be shared only by those who have been sailing together on the same ship. Temperature checks are mandatory. Everyone wears masks.

But there is no quarantine. Crewmembers go straight to immigration to board their flight, or stay in a dedicated hotel overnight.

“The government wanted to put the crew in quarantine, but I asked why they must be quarantined if they have been onboard for more than six months,” Betty recalls.

“If they get clearance from public health, there is no need to quarantine them. Let them go home and self-isolate,” she said.

All relief crewmembers must be in quarantine for 14 days and have a negative PCR Covid-19 test before flying in to Kenya. Their ship must be in port before they arrive.

Under Kenya’s rules, it is not only seafarers who have completed their contracts who can apply to go home under the guidelines.

Injured crewmembers or seafarers seeking repatriation on compassionate grounds can also apply, as can those who do not need a replacement.

Betty said the crew change program has been successful thanks to support from all domestic maritime industry stakeholders.

Kenya is on the right track, but needs improvement, according to the ITF. One concern is the narrow window for crew changes to take place.

“The 48-hour window can sometimes prove unworkable and may cause problems in the future,” said Steve Trowsdale, ITF inspectorate coordinator.

“This has already been an issue in India and Singapore.”

“Coordinating crew change can be a very difficult thing, especially with so few flights and requiring a ship to be in harbor before relieving crew can enter the country can make it unworkable.”

“What if a ship can’t make its expected arrival date due to mechanical failure, or because they’re required to alter course for medical assistance?”

The ITF represents 670 affiliates, including MM&P, in 150 countries. Together ITF unions represent over 18 million members.

The ITF’s campaign to educate governments on best-practice crew change protocols, including exemptions from travel and transit restrictions, is continuing.

There are currently an estimated 300,000 seafarers trapped working aboard vessels beyond their original contracts needing relief.

Back to Stories Covered


The number of Americans saying they approve of unions has risen to 65 percent, the highest it has been since 2003.

Support in the US for unions has been rising since 2009, when it touched its lowest point, 48 percent, after the Great Recession.

“Americans know union members love this country—a country built by unions,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in a Labor Day message.

“So it should come as no surprise that a Gallup poll released today found 65 percent of Americans approve of labor unions, the highest it’s been in nearly two decades.”

The first time Gallup polled the public’s support for labor unions was in 1936, when the approval rate was 72 percent.

Approval hit its peak at 75 percent in 1953 and again in 1957.

The lowest ratings have generally been reported in times of economic weakness, including the late 1970s and the early to mid-1980s, when support fell below 60 percent for the first time.

From 2009 through 2012, it remained around 50 percent.

Eighty-three percent of Democrats say they approve of labor unions, the highest rating on record.

Forty-five percent of Republicans and 64 percent of independents say they approve of unions.

Americans’ reported membership in a labor union remains similar to recent years, with 10 percent of respondents saying they are a union member and 16 percent saying there is a union member in their household.

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Larry Willis, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, issued the following statement honoring working people on Labor Day:

“As our nation pauses to celebrate the sacrifices and achievements of working people, we cannot ignore the realities of the crisis we face. This week, the United States surpassed six million confirmed cases of Covid-19.”

“Over 187,000 Americans are dead. Millions more worry about how they will pay for food and rent. And in the absence of leadership from the White House, it is working people and their unions who are seeing us through these darks times.”

“Despite facing unimaginable fear and uncertainty, essential workers—including those on the front lines of our transportation system—are leading our nation’s coronavirus relief and recovery efforts.”

“Across the country, they are showing up to their jobs, often without the protections they need, and with no guarantees that they or their families will be safe.”

“They are doing so not for fame, fortune, or glory, but because they know America is counting on them.”

“The fact is, working people have never stopped sacrificing for this country—and they never will.”

“Workers are the heart and soul of our nation, and they deserve a country, economy and elected leaders who will take care of them the way they are taking care of us.”

“That is why transportation labor will never stop fighting for America’s working heroes.”

“This Labor Day—and every day—we recommit to our efforts to fight for good jobs, safe work places, union rights on the job, an end to systemic racism and elected leaders who will put working families first.”

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Rescuers are continuing to search for 40 people missing after a livestock ship carrying thousands of cattle sank off the southern islands of Japan on Sept. 2 during Typhoon Maysak.

Two survivors have been rescued and the body of a third crewmember was recovered before a second typhoon halted the search.

Rescuers have reported seeing dozens of cow carcasses, an empty raft, a life vest with the ship’s name on it and a bundle of rope.

They also said they had seen fuel in the water, a sign that the ship had sunk.

The vessel, the GULF LIVESTOCK 1, left New Zealand in mid-August carrying 5,800 cows to Tangshan on China’s eastern coast.

The crew sent a distress signal early Wednesday.

The first survivor rescued, said to be the chief mate, reported that the ship had lost an engine, causing it to stall, after which it was hit by a wave and capsized.

He told the coastguard that he had jumped into the water with his lifejacket on and had not seen any other members of the crew before being rescued.

A second survivor, a deckhand, was rescued Friday floating in a raft.

A third died after being pulled unconscious from the water.

It has emerged that the vessel, which is owned by UAE-based Gulf Navigation, had a history of mechanical issues.

A December 2019 inspection by authorities in Indonesia cited deficiencies with the propulsion and auxiliary machinery, including the main engine, gauges and thermometers.

Authorities in Australia reported earlier in the year that the vessel’s departure had been delayed for a week because the Australian Maritime Safety Authority had found “stability and navigation issues.”

An earlier report cited a lack of up-to-date charts and training for officers using the navigation system.

The crew was made up of 39 people from the Philippines, two from New Zealand, and two from Australia.

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The captain of the MAERSK ETIENNE and Maersk corporate officials are calling for an urgent resolution to the month-long standoff involving 27 migrants who have been on board the tanker since they were rescued on Aug. 4.

The situation, all parties say, is getting desperate.

On Tuesday it was reported that three migrants had to be rescued by crewmembers after jumping over the side.

“We require immediate assistance. These people have to disembark as soon as possible,” said
MAERSK ETIENNE Captain Volodymyr Yeroshkin in a videotaped appeal.

“They want to speak to their loved ones again. They desperately need to set foot on shore.”

“MAERSK ETIENNE is a chemical tanker which is not equipped or constructed to keep people onboard,” he said.

“This is a cargo vessel, the crew are professional seafarers and none of them is qualified for medical assistance or for care for rescued people.”

The migrants sleep on mattresses and blankets, some on the deck covered from the sun by impromptu shades.

The group has been denied entry by several countries.

Authorities in Malta asked the tanker crew to help the migrants, who had been at sea for days in a wooden boat that sank soon after they were brought on board.

“While our Group has rescued thousands of people over the years, we struggle to remember ever having a case, where a vessel and its crew have been left without support from authorities for so long,” Maersk Chief Executive Officer Robert Maersk Uggla said in a statement.

He said the case sets a terrible precedent for the global merchant fleet, as this is the longest time migrants have been onboard a commercial vessel without assistance or disembarkation rights.

Another spokesperson for the company underlined the fact that the tanker is not equipped to accommodate additional people and that it does not have facilities or medical care to support the group of 27, which includes a pregnant woman and a minor.

Ships have an obligation to attempt to rescue persons considered in danger at sea under Article 98 of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea and Regulation V-33 of the International Convention for the Safety of Lives at Sea (SOLAS).

Governments are obliged under SOLAS amendments to coordinate and cooperate so that persons rescued at sea are disembarked in a safe place as soon as possible.

The Maritime Labor Convention states that the responsibility for repatriation falls to the nation state should the shipowner or flag state be unable to carry it out.

“While many of us acknowledge the challenging political considerations, we are desperately awaiting Malta and Denmark to find a solution for the refugees, with EU or other relevant parties, so the ship and its crew are released,” Uggla said.

A spokesperson for Maersk Tankers, the operator of MAERSK ETIENNE, said that neither the Maltese, Italian or Libyan authorities would let the migrants disembark.

“It’s deeply unfair that we are treated this way for doing the right thing and acting as we are supposed to according to the international seafaring rules,” Maersk Tankers’ Chief Technical Officer Tommy Thomassen said.

“The authorities need to provide a solution now.”

The number of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean to land on European shores from countries such as Tunisia and Libya has spiked in the past year.

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Fire reignited Monday aboard the Panama-flagged VLCC NEW DIAMOND, a day after Sri Lankan authorities said firefighters had succeeded in extinguishing the blaze.

One member of the vessel’s 23-person crew died in an explosion in the engine room, where the fire is said to have started. A second has been hospitalized. The rest have been safely evacuated.

The authorities said high temperatures aboard the tanker and windy conditions had restarted the blaze.

The NEW DIAMOND has 1700 metric tons of diesel fuel on board and is fully loaded with a cargo of approximately two million barrels of crude oil being shipped from Kuwait to a refinery in India.

India and Sri Lanka have deployed nine ships, five tugboats, coast guard and military aircraft and personnel to fight the blaze. Disaster management teams and salvage crews are also on site.

The fire broke out in the early morning hours of Sept. 3, spreading from the engine room to the deckhouse and the bridge.

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The probable cause of the collision between the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS FITZGERALD and the containership ACX CRYSTAL was the failure of the bridge team aboard the Navy ship to take “early and substantial action” to avoid the collision, according to the final report on the accident released on Sept. 3 by the NTSB.

Seven FITZGERALD sailors died in the collision, which took place on June 17, 2017.

Three others suffered serious injuries. No injuries were reported aboard the ACX CRYSTAL.

The Navy’s own investigation found that inadequate leadership and flawed teamwork were contributing factors, along with poor seamanship by the crews of both vessels.

The safety board said that the causes of the accident included: ineffective communication and cooperation among the FITZGERALD crew on the bridge and in the combat information center; and the commanding officer’s insufficient planning for the hazards of the vessel’s intended transit.

The NTSB said that the watch officers aboard the containership had also contributed to the accident by not detecting the Navy vessel in time and failing to take action to avoid the collision despite being in doubt about the FITZGERALD’s intentions.

The FITZGERALD was traveling southbound at about 22 knots in the bay of Sagami Nada off Japan’s Honshu Island, while the ACX CRYSTAL was traveling east-northeast at about 18.5 knots in the bay.

Watch officers began to take action to avoid impact just seconds before the two collided.

The USS FITZGERALD rejoined the Navy’s fleet this summer.

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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 **
Online: 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: 9/22/20, 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): Not currently scheduled

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): 9/21/20, 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): 11/10/20

MSC-DC – Military Sealift Command Damage Control (2-day): 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: Not currently scheduled

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): Not currently scheduled

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

Back to Stories Covered

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