November 2019 Newsletter

The Marine Chemist Association held an Executive Board meeting in Los Angeles on October 20th, 2019 following our Pacific sectional seminar. A summary of the meeting and seminar is provided below.

The Marine Chemist Association held the 2019 Pacific sectional seminar at the Renaissance Airport hotel in Los Angeles on October 19th. A total of 19 chemists attended. Surprisingly, half of the chemists in attendance came from other sections with eight coming from the Atlantic section.

This was the first fall seminar on our new schedule. As previously announced, the hope is to respond to any issues that may have come up since the spring seminar. As it turned out, this is what actually happened. Unfortunately, the updated information covered near misses where there could have been a fire or explosion due to a chemist’s failure to conduct a proper inspection. Each incident involved pipelines that previously contained a flammable liquid which was certified for hot work. In each instance the pipeline was Safe for Hot Work, however, a complete inspection was not done and it was discovered by various individuals that the pipelines still contained a flammable liquid and atmosphere. The MCQB is in the process of investigating the incidents.

Larry Russel provided a high-level review of each incident. He stressed that the cause of the incidents was the improper application of the requirements on NFPA 306. Larry also stressed the ramifications that an incident could have on our profession. During the 2020 sectional seminars the proper cleaning and inspection of pipelines will be highlighted during our training sessions.

The MCQB has approved the use of the LNG Fuel System Familiarization Training that was presented to the Marine Chemists and Trainee in attendance at the 2019 MCA Annual Meeting and Seminar in Orlando, FL. The approval will allow Marine Chemists and the Trainee to use the training program to meet the requirements within the Rules for the Certification and Recertification of Marine Chemists, Section VI.A.2.b (obtaining the endorsement for flammable cryogenic liquid (FCL) vessels; and Section VI.B.1.b (renewal of the FCL endorsement).

As a result, there are now 61 chemists with the FCL endorsement. If you attended the seminar and wish to use the training to either obtain initial certification or recertification please contact NFPA.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6068″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]The Pacific section voted in their alternate during their sectional meeting. Your executive board is as follows.

Note: John Flynn will leave the board in March 2020 after the sectional. Vince Pempeit was voted on by the Pacific Section to serve out John’s term.

The topics covered during the sectional seminar are as follows;

MCA Business – Don Raffo CMC 668

  1. Overview of the MCA, year in review.
  2. Evaluations – Michael Schmidt CMC 642/Phil Giles CMC 670
  3. Ethics Overview – Brian Axelrad CMC 691

NFPA Report – Larry Russell
Occurrence Report – Larry Russell
Round Table on AGST Tanks – Pat Hickey CMC 669, Brian Axelrad CMC 691
Certificate Writing Review – Don Raffo CMC 668.

  1. Local Shifting
  2. AGST
  3. Hollow structure
  4. Hot work permit
  5. Material in tank
  6. Tank entry overview during inspections

Roundtable on Current Issues, Problems and Practices in the Industry

All presentations given at the seminar have been posted to the website. The attendance list is posted on the Member’s Only section of the website. If you were at any 2019 seminars, please check to see that your name is listed.

NFPA Report – Larry Russell gave an update on the NFPA Marine Field Service and the Marine Chemist Qualification Board since the annual meeting in July 2019. As of the date of this meeting there are 97 Certificated Marine Chemists and 19 Registered Trainees. One new trainee is a Japanese national. There are two other applications for registration under consideration by the MCQB. A few Marine Chemists have submitted an application for the flammable cryogenic liquids (FCL) endorsement and verification that they attended the training session that was approved by the MCQB for obtaining this endorsement. Larry requested that Marine Chemists submit their monthly survey reports and copy of one certificate as required by the Rules for the Certification and Recertification of Marine Chemists.

Occurrence Report Summary – Larry provided a review of three recent incidents involving hot work that was authorized by Marine Chemists. Each incident involved pipelines that previously contained a flammable liquid. The causal factors of each incident were presented to the attendees; along with the requirements for preparing vessels for hot work and the requirements for determination of conditions prior to the issuance of a Marine Chemist’s Certificate that are found in the Standard for the Control of Gas Hazards on Vessels, NFPA 306. The Marine Chemist Qualification Board has asked the MCA to make the subject of tank cleaning and pipelines a topic of high priority for future training seminars.

NFPA Outreach – Periodically local US Coast Guard Groups will host “industry days” where various safety topics are discussed with local-stake holders. NFPA has developed a 1-hour presentation that has been given to marine industry groups in these types of settings. The presentation gives a brief summary of confined space and hot work hazards and promotes the use for NFPA Certificated Marine Chemists. If you, the Coast Guard or other organization has such an event and is looking for a speaker, please contact Larry Russell at NFPA.

An example of this type of outreach was recently posted on the Facebook page of the City of North Charleston, SC Fire Department. Joshua Marshall, CMC 721 gave a presentation that he developed about the unique challenges that confined spaces on ships and in shipyards present to first responders to members of the fire department’s Technical Rescue and HazMat crews. Larry was able to attend this meeting and contribute to the discussion.

Joshua, along with David Miller, CMC 663, and Matthew Gillespie, CMC 737 have worked with Deytons Shipyards and crews of vessels that are in the shipyard to develop training opportunities for the firefighters for confined-space rescue and high-angle rescue.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6070″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]NFPA 306 – As a result of several near misses your Executive Board noted that the 306 Standard is difficult to read, interpret and apply uniformly. The result of this is different chemists may interpret the standard in multiple ways. The Executive Board established a committee to review the standard and develop suggestions to make it easier to use and clarify requirements. Once this is done the full 306 technical committee may form a task group to get industry input. Since it is early in the revision cycle this will be a long-term project.

A new section on above -ground storage tank inspections in waterfront facilities has been submitted for consideration in 306.

MACOSH – MACOSH held its first meeting in June. Amy Liu is representing the MCA and is chair of the shipyard workgroup. The group is advising the agency on maritime training and is working on a coatings document as it relates to employee toxic exposure. Larry Russell is also on the committee. Don Raffo is overall chair.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”6071″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]Certificate Reporting – Larry Russell reported that a number of chemists are not up to date with their monthly reporting. While there has been a change in the method to purchase certificates, reporting is still necessary to track the status of the program. It should be noted that the reporting requirements are greatly simplified and you only have to enter the number of certificates both written and electronic into the NFPA site. Monthly reporting is done through the following web site.

EMCC and Certificates – Any questions on the EMCC program, computer and printer problems should be addressed to Rick Sterling. ( Rick came to the annual seminar and updated many computers that the chemists brought along. He is a great asset if you need help.

Ethics – The Ethics Committee is actively investigating an ethics complaint. Due to a potential conflict of interest Chairman Elect Phil Giles is heading up the investigation.

Website – The MCA website ( has been updated. It has a modern feel and has gotten many positive reviews. There is a members-only section which requires a log-in, hopefully, everyone has been able to log-in and view it. In the members-only section you can view seminar attendance for the past several years. This is one of the most popular areas for chemists. If you have an issue with your log-in you should contact the administrator at

Additionally, the MCA recently purchased If you visit this site you will be redirected to the current MCA website.

At the last board meeting it was requested that a members’ only forum page be set up for private discussions. This is now up and running and can be accessed and viewed only by MCA chemist members. You are welcome to post any discussions here relating to our profession. If you have a cell number you will get a text when someone has posted to the site. Feel free to use it.

Scholarship – The 2020 MCA scholarship application form has been placed on the website. If you have a child or grandchild who meets the criteria please consider having them apply.

Scholarship Committee Members

The Schedule for Seminars

The second sectional seminar of 2019 was held in LA. on October 19th. There were 19 chemists in attendance.

Future Meeting Locations Annual

2020 San Francisco. Hilton/Parc 55 July 27-29, 2020.

  • Our 2020 annual seminar will be held in San Francisco. We have booked two hotels directly across the street from one other. Most of the seminars will be held at the Parc 55. Our hospitality suite will be in the Hilton Union Square. We have a private two-story suite with outdoor space at the Hilton and some events will be held at this property. You will have the option of booking your rooms at either hotel (same rates). They are both Hilton properties. More information will follow as we get closer.

Sectional Seminars

Atlantic – Sheraton Charlotte Airport Hotel, 3315 Scott Futrell Drive, Charlotte, NC, 28208, (704) 392-1200, March 28, 2020. Registration and information will be available on the website after the first of the year. There is a cut- off date of 02/27/2020. Reservations can be made by calling 1-800-325-3535 and asking for the Marine Chemist Association group rate or through the web link

Gulf – Chicago, Chicago O’Hare Hilton. October 24, 2020.


The Association is continuing to look at outreach opportunities to keep us in front of the industry. We are working in conjunction with the Marine Gas Hazards Control Program. Longtime MGHCP member Ed Wilmot, who was vice president of marine insurance at Great American Insurance Company, is now semi-retired, and has agreed to use his connections in the insurance industry to promote the MCA at major insurance events. However, he is not a chemist and needs help to tell our story. He is developing a presentation titled “The Role of the Marine Chemist – The Voice of Safety”. Ed has requested pictures of hazardous conditions encountered, (accompanied by narratives), accidents that occurred but could have been avoided had a chemist been called, unusual situations encountered and unique solutions. Please help Ed persuade the insurance industry to mandate use of a chemist when appropriate. As Ed pointed out there is a declining number of underwriters who went to sea and they do not know what a chemist does or how it can save insurance dollars. Let’s support this effort with narratives and photos to

The MCA has developed a trifold pamphlet which can be given out at different events. Currently, we are getting bids for printing and are looking at having it available on the website for you to print out. More on this at the upcoming seminars.

Code of Conduct for Meetings

During any official MCA sessions there should be no discussion of personal matters, private disputes, or business pricing. Discussion should be limited to technical matters and the business of running the MCA.

Marine Chemist Clothing and Lands’ End

The MCA has established a relationship with Lands’ End where you can go to their website and purchase any item they offer and have a choice of MCA logos embroidered on it. The clothing is of high quality and they offer a wide selection from shirts to messenger bags, jackets, mugs, pants, etc.

To get to the site enter:

Once you pick an item you can select from several different logos and the decide where to place it. Many of the items are given as gifts during seminars.

Business Opportunities

Effective October 15, Ed Wilmot of the MGHCP will oversee operations at the International Cargo Gear Bureau. ICGB is a 70-year-old organization that witnesses safe working load (SWL) operations on cargo gear on ships and terminals. He has offered training to our members to become a certified ICGB contractor to witness and certify SWL testing. Since we are all working in yards and terminals and are aware of safety protocols, it is an easy step and a way to supplement income with existing clients. If you are interested in more information, training requirements or anything else, contact him at

Facebook Page

For those of you who are on Facebook, visit Friends of Marine Chemist Association. It is a closed group and only chemists, spouses and friends may view and post on the page. If you’d like to see the page, send a friend request to the group. We encourage all to post information, photos, comments or anything else related to our profession, seminars, and events. Please check it out. It proved very popular when posting information about our annual seminar.

General News

Navy May Scrap Goal of 355 Ships; 310 Is Likely

The Navy, facing a budget crunch in the near future, is looking for more punch from fewer ships, a top Admiral says.


WASHINGTON: A top Navy official suggested today the service is reconsidering its long-stated goal of a 355-ship fleet, floating the idea that a number around 310 ships would be about the best it can do if current funding projections hold.

Without big increases in shipbuilding accounts over the current five-year budget projection, “we can keep around 305 to 310 ships whole — properly manned, properly maintained, properly equipped,” Navy vice chief Adm. Robert Burke told reporters today. Although a 355-ship Navy “is a great target for us, it’s more important that we have the maximum capability to address every challenge that we might face,” he added.

As it stands now, the Navy has 290 ships, and will hit 300 by next fall, but as Navy leadership tries to build more ships, it has to confront two significant problems: keeping the ships it has in good condition, and wrestling with what are expected to be flat or declining budgets in the coming years. Only about 30 percent of the Navy’s destroyer fleet can leave port on time after repairs, while six of the service’s 11 aircraft carriers are in dock under repair, including the USS Harry S. Truman, which was supposed to deploy to the Middle East last month but has been hobbled by electrical problems.

The Truman can’t relieve the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier in the Middle East, forcing the Navy to extend the big deck’s 7-month deployment. “She’s just over eight months now,” Burke said in the Navy’s first confirmation of the extended deployment, “because the world gets a vote.”

During a Wednesday hearing on Navy readiness, Rep. John Garamendi, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee readiness subcommittee, warned the service’s top acquisition official, “if you cannot take care of a 290 ship fleet, so maybe you shouldn’t build more.”

Burke’s comments appear to offer a peek into the new force structure assessment the Navy and Marine Corps are currently working on, slated to wrap up by the end of the year. The two services want to more fully integrate their operations and spending, allowing the Marines to support the fleet from land using precision fires and F-35s based on small, ad hoc bases.

Burke didn’t close the door on the larger fleet size, which was a major talking point for President Trump on the campaign trail in 2016. “It’s not to say we won’t getting 355, but some tough decisions need to be made,” Burke said, citing concerns over the Navy’s ability to repair ships on time and get them back out to sea. “On readiness, are we there yet, are we exactly where we want to be or should be? No.”

Part of the problem has been years of continuing resolutions passed by Congress in lieu of full yearly budgets. Those have affected operations and maintenance budgets.

Earlier this month, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the Navy would have to spend an extra $200 billion over its current estimated shipbuilding budget over the next 30 years to reach a 355-ship fleet, ballooning yearly shipbuilding accounts by 31 percent.

The growing federal deficit will also put a major squeeze on the Navy — and the Pentagon’s — plans. The deficit for 2019 grew to $984 billion, or 4.7 percent of GDP, the highest since 2012, the CBO estimated this week in a separate analysis. That’s a full 26 percent higher than the 2018 deficit and 48 percent above 2017.

When it comes to the force structure assessment, the final number of ships in the fleet continues to be something of a jump ball.

Col. Brian Magnuson, head of the Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Office, told a Marine conference last month that it’s unclear how many ships the Navy and Marines will need until the force structure plan is done and is war gamed. Specifically, the number of amphibious ships carrying Marines and their gear “could be 18, it could be 138 – I just don’t know,” he said.

Respectfully submitted,
Don Raffo
Secretary/Treasurer MCA

Any opinions, policies or statements expressed in this newsletter are the personal opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policy of the MCA.