Wednesday, September 22. 2010
Edison Chouest Offshore Fires Boat Crews to save money
By D.S. Whistle
Maritime Press International, staff writer
It has been reported to us that Edison Chouest Offshore (Galliano Marine Services) has been using "not so nice" methods to keep costs/expenses down during the Deep Water Horizon spill disaster and subsequent deep water drilling ban. They said, "While ECO tries to hold on to BP contracts as well as others whose lack of ability to drill has caused boats to be tied-up without a job, employees are being subjected to less than "on the level" evaluations.
They said, "Drug testing has become a weekly or even in some cases twice weekly event in order to thin crews by whatever means can be imagined. Some crewmembers who have been dedicated employees for many years have been put on the chopping-block and fired, usually under the guise of not following a company policy. Drug test failures must go."
Miniscule things, minor mistakes or mishaps are being used to allow (under LA labor guidelines) dismissals. Company polices are being rewritten by lawyers to prove that everything and anything is construed as a violation of company policy and therefore is terms for termination.
During an interview with a recently dismissed employee whose name was requested to be withheld, they stated, “It’s just gone too far. All a junior officer has to do is to make an unfounded allegation of wrong-doing about a more senior officer and its curtains. It's possible that soon, crew members with little or no experience will be in charge.”
Scary to imagine your earning and seniority is in jeopardy because another wants your position. “There are some real ruthless people working their way up the company ladder”. The company appears to do nothing about it because it’s what they need to weather the slow periods. "It’s underhanded and because they do it by saying one did not follow company policy. That person is now fired without a chance of getting unemployment benefits during this slow economy".
We found that;
According to Louisiana Workforce Commission, R.S. 23:1601(2) (A) “If they were discharged from their employment because of their failure to abide by company rules/policies” No unemployment benefits are allowed. A write-up for an alleged misconduct is grounds for discharge with NO unemployment benefits. Louisiana Legislature has deemed this is acceptable for its constituents, to be treated this way and has given Edison Chouest Offshore the green-light to let the axe fall.
They said, "When accidents start happening and people start getting hurt because experienced crews are being terminated, we'll be able to look back and see what caused it. The late Edison Chouest, founder likely would not be proud of what has become of his company. Right is right, and wrong is wrong".
Thursday, September 2. 2010
YOU ARE IN A DEEP DEEP SLEEP,
DO NOT CONFESS HOW YOU STOLE
COAST GUARD QUESTIONS
The Story of Sea School Being Investigated for
Having All the Coast Guard Exam Questions
By Ed Franks, True Sea Stories
I had wandered into the hotel lounge in Orlando after a meeting of the Maritime Education Standards Council. I had spotted him across the room wearing his usual stupid hat. He is known as the Grand Poo-Pa of the schools teaching Coast Guard courses and preparation for Coast Guard exams. After thirty one years of working at Sea School, Ron Wahl has a lot of stories that he hasn't told.
After imbibing the juice of the grape, he seemed to loosen up, so I tried a few off the Wahl questions. I was interested in how Sea School had gotten the reputation of knowing every question on the Coast Guard exams long before the CG released those questions to the public. He began to un-wine:
"Years ago, the Coast Guard in Seattle opened an investigation on Sea School to determine how we were able to acquire so many Coast Guard exam questions for our students to practice with.
The local Commander requested that Sea School, with offices in Seattle at the time, allow the Coast Guard to have access to our computerized training aids and prep course study books used by students.
This was in the days before the CG, number one, released all of its questions to the prep schools, and number two, even longer before the CG agreed to approve schools to do courses in lieu of CG exams."
He went on to explain; "The Coast Guard had built a reputation of using mean and nearly unpassable exams to limit the number of mariners obtaining licenses. Good schools such as Houston Maritime Training and Sea School built reputations on keeping track of Coast Guard questions currently being used on their exams. The competition, between Sea School and Houston, was who had the best debriefers that could interview students that had taken the Coast Guard exam and remembered enough detail, with prompting, to bring out information that would assist us, the prep schools.
"Smiling, he continued "Back in Seattle, Sea School released its computer disks and books hoping the CG would find that they had lots of CG exam questions packaged there. The CG was looking for a way to penalize or punish the school, while Sea School was gleefully publishing in its news letter that it was under investigation for this. What student wouldn't wanna go to the school that knew what was on the test ?
Previously, Sea School was written up in publications for sleep learning methodology used at our dormitory schools. Repeatable tapes were pumping Rules of the Road through pillow speakers to our students. Although there was no way of verifying results, many students claim it was a secret to their success.
I had watched, with envy, the King of debriefing, Walt Martin of Houston Maritime Training, an ex Coastie who knew how to bring out detail on questions seen by his students. I was good , but not as good as Martin.
To make a long story shorter, I needed to create an edge to find out what the CG was using this month on the exams we were prepping students for.
Having been an amateur hypnotist in my earlier life, it seemed like an extension of sleep-learning. What a wonderful idea if I could get my students to better remember questions on exams that they sat for. Now I gotta tell ya, that every student was not a good hypnotism subject, but there were some that were marvelous. They could even remember the license tag numbers in the parking lot at the Coast Guard testing site.
I've long wondered if the coasties could come up with a violation of some rule or regulation that would prohibit this methodology. I recollect Admiral Naccara, on another subject, telling me that next time I looked in the CFR to see if I could find the word "fair" Obviously I couldn't find it, but I did wonder if the coasties would consider hypnotizing students, "unfair"
Back in Seattle, the investigation dragged and dragged and dragged. The investigators told me that they had found 75% of the questions on our computer came from real questions came from Coast Guard questions. The investigator, with gleeful look on his face, was writing furiously, thinking he was writing my confession. At that moment I still wasn't sure what crime he was going to accuse me of, but I gotta tell ya, the publicity really helped our business.
I guess it dragged too long and the Coast Guard finally released all of the pool questions to the schools, I think that wrote the end to the CG DOT case because I never heard another word about it.
Sea School still preps for a few courses, like the 500/1600 GRT Mate/Master license , and still has a need to know what's on the test."
This was a natural place to ask Wahl if he was still using hypnosis to keep up with those exams he was prepping for. He mumbled something about plausible deniability that I didn't catch.
Then he warned me "You know Ed, if you publish a word of this, I may end up being the brunt of another investigation, and at my age I would have to use self hypnosis to keep my mouth shut."
Ed Frank's note to Ron Wahl: Ron, I never promised you a rose garden, or that this conversation was off the record. Better start brushing up on self hypnosis.
Sunday, September 13. 2009
Friday, January 2. 2009
Reprinted by permission of Workboat Magazine
What’s Cookin’ On workboats, cooks play a big role in keeping the crews happy and healthy.
By Pamela Glass, Washington Correspondent
As most crews on workboats will tell you, “If the cook ain’t happy, we ain’t happy.” And as most company managers will tell you, if the crew isn’t happy, the company isn’t happy, because productivity suffers and then profits slip. There’s little doubt that the talent level in the galley can have a big influence on onboard attitudes and performance. If the cook is unfriendly or prepares consistently bad fare, morale can hit rock bottom. Workers can become grumpy, and their attitude can turn sour. But if the cook is pleasant and a galley pro, crews look forward to their next meal, and can sleep better and improve their job performance. “It’s a generally accepted rule that the captain runs the boat, and the cooks run the lifestyle on the boat,” said Mark Knoy, president of AEP Memco Barge Line, St. Louis, which employs about 60 cooks on its inland towboats that ply the Mississippi River system. Cooks on workboats conjure up two different images. One is the crusty old salt, with a few tattoos on his biceps and a heavy hand with the saltshaker and frying pan. Another is of a petite grandmother who possesses a quick wit, an acerbic tongue and a talent for turning out biscuits, gravy, mashed potatoes or a seafood gumbo that would give fancy New Orleans restaurants a run for their money. It takes a special kind of person to be a workboat cook, and they aren’t easy to find, industry officials say. The job description is enough to scare off many landlubbers. After all, a vessel cook must often run a 24-hour-a-day restaurant. A cook also must conform to an unusual lifestyle. He or she is away from home for as long as a month at a time, and it can get lonely. There are different tastes to please, from the meat-and-potatoes appetite to the guy who has sworn off fats and butter to bring his cholesterol down. A cook must be well organized because he or she can’t just run out to the store when short on sugar. A cook also must roll with the waves and have a strong stomach, as cooking in rough waters can be dangerous and tricky. And he or she must be a nutritionist, able to prepare balanced meals and explain the effects on the body of too much caffeine or not enough whole grains or vegetables. Inland and offshore companies have different ways of hiring cooks. Some recruit directly from culinary schools, while others get applications from cooks who are looking for higher pay, more time off, and better benefits than their land-based jobs. (Most vessel companies offer full-time salaries, health benefits and pension plans.) Many cooks hear about the jobs from friends in the workboat industry, while others apply through employment agencies or listings on a company Web site. Backgrounds of the cooks vary, with some coming from the military, while others have food-service experience at restaurants, diners, school or hospital cafeterias or grocery stores. A small number attended cooking schools or worked with great chefs, such as one food service manager for an offshore company who learned his culinary skills from renowned New York chef Daniel Boulud.
INLAND VS. OFFSHORE
Cooks who work on inland river towboats tend to be older women, age 50 or more, while offshore cooks tend to be older men. Inland river cooks are not required to be licensed mariners, so generally they are not. But the river cook does more than prepare three or four home-cooked meals a day for a small crew, and keep the pantry stocked and grocery list filled. She often badgers the captain to fix things on the boat, or reminds the crew to clean their rooms or call home. She can also be a good listener — a friend or adviser who’s there when a crewmember has a problem. “She helps the younger guys deal with some of life’s issues, and can also cut a crewmember’s hair or act as a seamstress,” added Dave Brown, vice president, marine human resources at Ingram Barge Co. The Nashville, Tenn.-based barge operator employs 140 cooks on 80 of its line-haul towboats. Offshore cooks, because they work on larger vessels that can go up to 200 miles offshore and serve up to 40 or more workers, often have their mariner documents as well as cooking experience. Being licensed (most go for their AB) is not a requirement, but offshore companies recommend that cooks seek documentation because it can improve their chances for pay raises and advancement, and it contributes to productivity on OSVs. At Montco Offshore Inc., which specializes in 145' to 245' liftboats that service the Gulf of Mexico energy industry, 25 cooks work on the Galliano, La.-based company’s six liftboats. Those with documentation are paid more. The average pay for non-documented cooks is $180 a day, while a documented cook can earn from $240-$270 a day, according to Robby Gisclair, Montco’s food services manager. “Documentation is definitely a plus in getting hired,” said Gisclair, who has a degree in culinary arts and worked in a New York City restaurant under a French chef, “because vessels mandate a certain amount of licensed personnel onboard. The more documentation they get, the more your pay will go up.” Dominic Fava, a cook for Edison Chouest Offshore, another Galliano-based offshore service vessel operator, has an AB rigger’s license and is working toward his mate’s license because it opens doors to advancement. “They let you work on deck — two weeks in the kitchen, two on deck. It shows the company that you’re willing to advance. The galley pays the least in the fleet and there’s no advancement for cooks.” Vessel cooks are not required to take food handling or sanitation courses like many in the landbased food preparation business, but companies often provide this training. At Montco, the company is working with a national restaurant association to get its cooks a certification on food sanitation, while Memco trains its cooks in proper food handling techniques. Seacor Marine LLC, Houma, La., one of the largest OSV operators in the Gulf, utilizes a combination of cooks — those who work for a catering company and crewmembers who double as cooks. On Seacor’s large anchor-handlers, cooks are also mariners with AB certificates or other merchant mariner’s credentials. “Our view is that when you’re not cooking, they can hold navigational watches or assist on deck,” said John Fontenot, Seacor’s director of safety and human resources. “We like to have all our employees be mariners. It’s really unique. We don’t have any typical cooks.”
“ We don’t have any typical cooks.”
Finding people who can cook and are also interested in becoming mariners is difficult, Fontenot said, as it requires another level of training and exams. “It is a unique individual who is both a cook and a mariner.
Increasingly, today’s workboat cooks are also assuming a new responsibility: playing a key role in the health and well being of the crew by serving healthy food and informing them about the importance of healthy eating habits. This is driven by the many national health reports that warn of the negative effects of obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol — conditions that are being found increasingly among aging mariners. The Coast Guard has gotten into the act, taking a more aggressive role in this aspect of mariner training and job performance. With the industry’s help, it is developing the Crew Endurance Management System. CEMS identifies risk factors that contribute to a drop in physical stamina and mental alertness among mariners. One of the key recommendations is improving a mariner’s diet. This often means eating better, avoiding caffeine and drinking more water. CEMS suggests that vessel cooks modify daily menus to include more fresh vegetables, fruits, fruit drinks, whole-grain breads and low-fat meats such as turkey, fish and chicken. “How much and what crewmembers eat impacts on energy, mood, stamina and sleep,” a recent CEMS report to Congress said. Following the lead of CEMS, Memco is training its cooks on how poor nutrition relates to job fatigue. “Cooks can help with this,” said Paul Werner, who is in charge of safety and the CEMS program at Memco. However, cooks and the vessel operators they work for acknowledge that changing mariners’ eating habits is a big challenge, as most crews are accustomed to a high-calorie diet that includes fried foods, lots of butter and other fats and starches. Workers love their steak and potatoes, seafood gumbo, fried chicken, deep-fried catfish, cornbreads and cakes. Many cooks are making efforts to put out more salads, vegetables and fruits, but it’s been hard to break old habits. “Oreos, Doritos and Coke are still at the top of the shopping lists, but we do our best to provide nutritious choices,” said Seacor’s Fontenot. “Providing a balanced diet is a big concern for us,” added Montco’s Gisclair. “Three of our employees had heart attacks recently, and one died after 27 years with us. So we know we must provide healthy food.”
“Oreos, Doritos and Coke are still at the top of the shopping list.”
Caloric intake is also a challenge. On inland boats, for example, deckhands are much more active than those in the wheelhouse. “The challenge to the cook is to accommodate a guy who is burning lots of calories, and the guy who is burning far less,” said Brown of Ingram. Cooks say they are adopting more healthy cooking methods, with less frying, and more broiling, baking and steaming. But there are no set guidelines or mandates, so it’s up to individual cooks, with the encouragement of their companies, to institute gradual changes. Some companies, however, are also taking steps to improve employee nutrition, which can increase productivity and lower medical insurance costs. Many are encouraging employees to improve their diets and exercise more, both on and off the boat. At Ingram, the company is working with experts at Vanderbilt University to develop personalized diet and exercise plans for mariners. “Our employees have a physical every two-and-a-half years to coincide with the five-year license cycle. They go to Vanderbilt, see a nurse, and she helps develop a plan with them to improve their diet, exercise or stop smoking,” said Brown. “We’re doing the same wellness sessions with the cooks. A person who is in better health and in good shape will be more alert and able to deal with emergencies.” Already, Brown said, things are changing. “We’ve got treadmills on all our boats and other kinds of exercise equipment, and guys are walking around the boats. I think we’ve changed a lot of guys’ habits.”
GALLEY MASTER DOES MORE THAN JUST COOK
Sue Perryman has been cooking up a storm on the inland rivers for years. But the inland towboat cook would prefer to be remembered for how she cooked after a storm. Because that’s just what she did soon after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005. Her towboat, the 7,200-hp Douglas J. Fischer, and other AEP Memco Barge Line boats were loaded up with supplies and became impromptu relief centers for small vessels less equipped for longer runs. “Within one to two days after Katrina hit, we were pulling barges back into the river, and when I got on the boat there were cases of food and water. I was impressed that this was for the hurricane victims,” Perryman said. “People on tugs would come on our boat and eat a meal and take a shower.” Onboard the 192'x52' line-haul towboat, Perryman, 64, found herself cooking for more than the boat’s normal 11-member crew. “I served 300 extra meals beyond our crew,” she said. “Many of these people had lost everything and were living on tugs.” On one of the vessels there was a baby in need of milk, which Perryman supplied from her galley. Katrina was an exceptional call to duty, she said. Most of the time, however, her days are much more mundane — and she likes it that way. She’s up at 3 a.m., and in the galley getting breakfast ready at 4 a.m. By 9:30 a.m., she’s back in the galley again to get lunch going. After the midday meal is over and the galley is cleaned up, there’s just a short break before she’s back at it again around 3:30 p.m. to whip up dinner. Like many workboat cooks, Perryman is older than the majority of her crew, and is regarded as a combination mother, grandmother and counselor figure. She feels that she’s not only responsible for the nutritional well being of her charges, but the emotional side as well. Many confide in her and talk about whatever is on their minds. She’s the only woman onboard. “We get along real well on this boat, and you get to know the guys pretty well,” said Perryman, who works a 28-on/28-off schedule. The crews are on 14/14 schedules. With a background in catering and experience in a meat department, Perryman is well organized in the galley. She’s in charge of ordering groceries and preparing meals that are well balanced and nutritious. “I always have fresh fruits and vegetables, and I try to provide choices for those watching their weight and those who are not,” she said. “If they ask me to cook special things, I do it. My job is to keep them happy with the food, and I’m very happy doing it.
“My job is to keep them happy wit the food.”
“I really believe that if the crew is happy and healthy they are more likely to stay here with us.” Perryman heard about river cooks from a friend in the industry. She said it took nearly three years before there was an opening. “Cooks hardly ever leave,” she said. The Douglas J. Fischer’s galley was renovated three years ago and offers the latest amenities. She treats it like her kitchen at home, with a well-stocked pantry and handmade curtains on the windows. “I like to make it look homey.”
Thursday, September 13. 2007
From Workboat magazine, September 2007 issue, News Log section.
The prospect of stripping the Coast Guard of its maritime safety and regulatory duties is causing more than a little separation anxiety.
The tension was evident at a recent hearing called to examine the proposed changes following criticism from the industry and Washington about lack of experience, relationships with mariners and operators, licensing and rulemaking delays, and the handling of investigations.
House Transportation and Infrastracture Committee chairman Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., has raised the possibility of moving the safety duties to a different government agency. Most witnesses seemed willing to give the Coast Guard a chance to fix the problem first, although several questioned the service's ability to properly peform all current duties.
The panel heard from nine idustry representatives and might have heard from more, but a lot of people were "basically afraid to testify for fear of retribution from the Coast Guard," said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md.,who heads the subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.
An assessment of the programs in question is warranted, said Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen, who's made frequent trips to Capitol Hill, but so is "an honest assessment of the resources required."
Among the Coast Guard's biggest challenges are the "the capacity and competency of our workforce," especially in marine inspection, mariner licensing and documentation, and rulemaking, Allen said. And the Coast Guard is looking at even more work when it has to start inspecting 7,000 towboats.
Several witnesses suggested hiring more retired merchant mariners to provide the expertise that Coast Guard officers, who rotate throuh a job every few year, might not have.
And they questioned whether a military service should be supervising commercial navigation.
The trauma of 9/11 changed the character of the Coast Guard, said Peter Lauridsen, the Passenger Vessel Association's regulatory affairs consultant and a retired Coast Guard officer. "the face we see on the waterfront is primarily a military one," he said.
PVA thinks that after 9/11 the Coast Guard "views our industry segment as hindrance, an afterthought, and ultimately a threat," he said.
"There is no substitute for experience, particularly seagoing experience," said Jim Weakley, president of the Lake Carriers' Association. "We often have inspectors enforce ocean regulations on the Great Lakes."
"The theme that runs through all of our concerns," said Ken Wells, Offshore Marine Services Association president, "is whether they still emphasize marine safety as much as we do."
Allen and Oberstar had a somewhat testy exchange as Oberstar said of his proposal, "if nothing else, it has sure mobilized you." He pressed Allen to justify a link between the Coast Guard's security duties and safety issues such as mariner licensing.
"Safety and security are two sides of the same coin," Allen said.
"We'll give you the uniform personnel you need and put the civilian function in the Department of Transportation," Oberstar said.
"We are competent, but it's going to require more resources," Allen said.
_ Dale K. Dupont
FOR YOUR INFORMATION, A SERVICE OF MPI
Rep. Elijah Cummings: email@example.com
Rep. Jim Oberstar: Only accepts email from constituents of the 8th Congressional District of Minnesota.
MAiling Address: The Honorable James L. Oberstar
United States House of Representatives
2365 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-2308
Wednesday, September 12. 2007
Excerpted from Quality Marine Education LLC
The History Lesson
In 1995 the U.S. Coast Guard began to allow marine training schools to conduct a number of training courses that were approved to meet the requirements of federal regulations for training or examination requirements.. Where a certificate of training issued from the school would be accepted in lieu of the applicant taking and passing applicable Coast Guard license or endorsement examination.
There began a transition period of where the established license exam-prep schools migrated to offering approved courses.
But here is what some see as the rub.
Some maritime educators see a real problem with the Coast Guard’s loose standard of training course approval, even members of the Coast Guard will acknowledge that the license examinations are not reasonable or realistic, nor are they any real measure of a mariner’s competence.
The Not So Good News
Unfortunately, the vessel and boating world see no distinction between the private training schools established by the professional mariners/educators and the old exam-prep schools still run by amateurs though somewhat talented they may be. In the trade many refer to these old exam-prep training schools as School X.
Many in the training business call this pass-through of incompetent mariners in exchange for cash method of training. By the way School X, is more often than not one of the old exam-prep schools, where they still cannot shake the mentality of “if they pay us, they must pass.”
The Coast Guard’s Role
Unfortunately, the operators of the school X’s believe that by extolling their passing rates, offering ridiculously low tuition, and practicing the pass-through in exchange for cash method of training they are gaining loyalty from their students, and they are right. But what they perceive as loyalty is really the common knowledge among prospective students that if I go there, my passing is assured. It is believed that the original intent of the Coast Guard allowing approved training courses in lieu if Coast Guard license examination was to hopefully create more knowledgeable and maybe competent vessel operators, this fact has been lost in the process by a number of training schools that are in the category of a School X.
What is also unfortunate but helpful to the School X category is that the Coast Guard in addition to approving training courses is also tasked with conducting oversight on training schools that offer the training.
The Coast Guard tasked its District Regional Examination Centers (RECs) to conduct the training schools oversight, for Florida the closest REC is in Miami. Little if any actual oversight takes place by most of the RECs. One can only suppose that the REC is too busy or over-tasked to conduct diligent training school oversight and audit. If they did, maybe there would not be a School X category.
Beware. If You Want Real Captain’s Training
Be suspect of statements such as, you can keep attempting any exam until you pass or, if you fail one of the exams three times you can simply retake the part of the course. Schools that make these types of statements fit the matrix of the school X category. If you don’t get direct and clear answers to your questions, maybe you should keep looking for and calling other schools.
To be clear, a prospective Captain who attends and passes the exam at a School X will get a certificate of training that will be accepted by the Coast Guard. The School X certificate is viewed no differently by the Coast Guard then one from a quality training school.
Unfortunately, at the School Xs of the world, actual training is of minimal priority. Instead, their focus is on marketing their courses and the fact that they give the exams instead of the Coast Guard. Part of their strategy is offering their courses at ridiculously low tuition to foil competition from the bona fide schools.
Tuesday, August 14. 2007
BY MANNI COSTA
MARITIME PRESS INTERNATIONAL (maritimepress.org)
Administrative Law Judge system accused of stacking the deck against the mariner
One only has to read the headlines of this story to get the flavor. Headlines such as,
Justice Capsized ?,
Is there Justice in the Coast Guard’s Court ?,
Is the Coast Guard’s Administrative Court Stacked ?
It questions maritime fairness in the Coast Guard courts coming from a story that began in the Baltimore Sun written by reporter Robert Little.
Unfortunately this is the type story that will gather a paucity of public attention because it is so little understood. The maritime industry should have a major concern over the lack of fairness in the court of last resort for most Mariners.
Continue reading "COURT OUT OF ORDER"
The following was received directly from the Coast Guard and is unchanged. It is our belief that since the reorganization had been planned for over five years, that many of the proposed items, and the training of the new staff should have taken place before the doors were open.
Mariners did not volunteer to be guinea pigs.
Continue reading "REC Reorganization Update"
Thursday, April 19. 2007
He Robbed from the Rich Coast Guard and Stole from the Poor Mariner.
The story of Jaime Morales concerns all of us who have to deal with Coast Guard regulations to earn a living. Jaime stole the occupation/careers of approximately 700 mariners in Puerto Rico, thousands of dollars from the USCG general fund and, with the help of the US Department of Justice seems to have gotten away with it.
The beginning of the story was in 1983 when the coast guard changed from 49 testing stations for Coast Guard commercial licensing to 17 Regional Exam Centers (REC). Puerto Rico was one of the original forty nine but was not one of the remaining seventeen. The existing Miami testing station was converted to the southeast REC (MIA/REC). Its territory included Puerto Rico. For many years after the conversion date MIA/REC would send testers to Puerto Rico and the Virgins Islands to perform the testing functions including Captain’s and Engineer’s Licenses. M IA/REC kept an information station in Puerto Rico but required all filing packages for licenses and documents to be forwarded to MIA/REC for processing, filing, and payment of government ordained user fees.
The stage was set for disaster. The Puerto Rico Marine Safety Office (PRMSO) is a division of the USCG Seventh District as is the Miami MSO which includes the MIA/REC. The PRMSO was not happy with having and hosting a small office that, although a Coast Guard function, did not answer to it. This was akin to an owner of a vessel having to use a captain to run his boat but not being permitted to give him instructions or even control his operation. Somewhere along the line the OCMI of PRMSO assumed the responsibility of running this sub-unit, one man office in his territory and he also assumed responsibility for Jaime Morales, the civilian examiner working for the coast guard. MIA/REC also allowed this office to do the testing for licenses, a policy not authorized by the regulations limiting RECs and testing control to 17 locations. MIA/REC later called this a monitoring unit.
To be fair, MIA/REC was not the only office to allow expansion of the original 17 location concept. It just seemed to evolve and other RECs opened up additional testing stations in Virginia and Alaska. Maybe the 17 REC concept was flawed, however there are regulations that should have been rewritten to allow this expansion to happen. We have not been able to find any legal authority for the creation of these offices and in particular Puerto Rico.
It would be unfair to restate the unfounded assumption that many Puerto Ricans do not have a passing acquaintance with honesty, however leaving Jaime in charge of an office that controls and charges for USCG licenses was a recipe for disaster.
Continue reading "Jaime Morales, License Robber Extraordinaire."
Wednesday, April 11. 2007
Black hole wants RECs to continue evaluating, but leave the final word to NMC
By MPI Staff and Mani Costa, Managing Editor
The Coast Guard national Maritime Center has been planning a reorganization of the REC concept for the past five or six years. The definition of reorganization is " we screwed up and want to try something else to see if it works, but there’s no guarantee".
The joke for years has been the old Coasties talking about their Alma Mata and the usual three and four year rotational shifts. A Coast Guard officer takes over a new position that he has no expertise in, and, for the first year tries to find out where all the bodies are buried by the previous officer. In the second year he tries to show how smart he is by changing the whole existing plan, another word for a reorganization. When he realizes it won’t work either he has a year to hide all the bodies he has created, before the next officer steps onto the wet sand.
The history behind the NMC reorganization plan is that when the Coast Guard created the regional exam center concept, it change from 47 testing and evaluation centers to 16 REC’s. The promise for this reorganization was that everything could be handled by mail and therefore it would be no disservice to the mariner. With the excuse of Homeland security the Coasties are now requiring face-to-face vetting for almost every transaction. What most of the maritime community missed in this reorganization is that NMC was not put in charge of the regional exam center people. Some of the REC’s work closely with NMC and others ignored policy letters from NMC. The NMC was so embarrassed that they dropped policy letters, since nobody was accepting them, and created guidance letters instead. But all the time NMC was aggravated that the REC’s were not following the pied pipers at NMC.
Continue reading "NMC’S BLACK HOLE WANTS THE RECS TO CONTINUE TAKING THE BLAME"
TWIC ‘Identity card is US’ maritime hobgoblin’
Thursday, February 17 2011
Catch the Wave - New Maritime Jobs are on the Rise!
Tuesday, November 9 2010
Recreational fishermen split by federal fish limit proposal
Monday, November 8 2010
USCG INVESTIGATES FATIGUE ISSUES ASSOCIATED WITH CREW CHANGE
Thursday, November 4 2010
COAST GUARD GOES BACK ON THEIR WORD.
Wednesday, November 3 2010
Halliburton is implicated in the oil rig disaster
Tuesday, November 2 2010
DeepWater Drill Ban IS over!
Tuesday, November 2 2010
Brazilian giant pushes to Gulf's deep waters
Tuesday, October 26 2010
USCG Withdraws Mariner License Test Questions
Tuesday, October 12 2010
School Offers Exciting New Online Course
Saturday, October 2 2010