Our mission is to provide professional mariners and others involved with the maritime industry, a platform to collaborate in order to achieve safety on the waterways of the greater Chicago area.
We are a sector leader for the merchant mariner on the Chicago Harbor Safety Committee lending our unique and informed perspective to the discussion as safety related issues are debated across all sectors of our industry.
Being part of an organization with over 130 years of history we work to preserve the traditions of the mariners of the Great Lakes. These are the traditions that bind us to those who came before us and to those who will come after us.
Relying on the experience within our membership and experts of the industry, we work to produce workshops and seminars for the working members on deck of the ships on our waterways.
More than ever, it is time to focus on creating a larger, more engaged community by building partnerships with other nonprofits and partnering with community outreach groups.
Today's International Ship Masters' Association traces its history to Buffalo, NY where the Excelsior Marine Benevolent Association was formed in 1886, set up to provide financial assistance to the family of a deceased local captain. In addition to providing financial support to disabled members, or in case of death, to their beneficiaries, the organization provided educational opportunities for the improvement of navigational skill and allowed Great Lakes ship masters to have a voice in the formation of safety and navigation rules and regulations.
While ISMA no longer has a benevolent fund, we are still working to give back to our maritime community. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit we work to put on programs that teach and inform about topics relevant to our industry. By hosting these events we put our mariner members in the room with the agencies that regulate us for productive conversations.
Our membership is comprised of mariners, active & retired, and those who support our industry. We are a social group that gathers throughout the year to discuss relevant topics, to network, and simply to raise a glass with and share some stories with those who share the same passion for this industry.
We invite you to join us with the following membership types:
Active Professional - An individual who currently holds a merchant marine credential recognized by the government of either the United States or Canada.
Retired Professional - An individual who holds or has held a merchant marine license recognized by the government of either the United States or Canada but is now retired from active service.
Associate - An individual who is associated with the maritime industry.
Cadet - an individual working in the maritime industry with aspirations of obtaining a maritime credential.
Our lodge works hard to organize events that highlight the traditions of our past and educate those working our waterways today.
With a growing presence we are working to expand our mission into the larger maritime community and strive for the betterment of the mariner.
Maritime Industry Day
Maritime Day &
The Blessing of the Fleet
A day long seminar that we organize and put on with members of local regulatory agencies to address changes in regulations and other pressing issues.
We gather together once a year to remember those who came before us and lost their lives to the waters of the Great Lakes and then hold a Blessing of the Fleet ceremony for all to participate in.
Chicago's Christmas Ship
Members of Lodge 3 were part of the group that founded this event which donates 1,200 trees each year to deserving families in the Chicago area. Our lodge continues to donate to this deserving cause and participate in the ceremony each year.
Our lodge rewards $500 scholarships to three people each year who are going after their first mariner credential or are continuing their education and adding onto their existing credential.
The deadline for applications is September 30th.
Here are a few of the requirements for our scholarship. Please click the application button below to see the full list and the application to apply for the scholarship.
Scholarships must be applied to USCG approved schools
This is a reimbursement scholarship; course completion certificate must be shown to receive check
While you don't need to be a member of ISMA to be awarded the scholarship you will have to have a letter from a current member of ISMA in order to complete the application process.
We gather monthly to :
Discuss lodge business
Hear presentations or learn relevant skills
Discuss relevant topics on our waterways
And, of course, to simply enjoy each other's company. Feel free to bring some topics to discuss as we figure out ways to engage with our membership and the rest of the maritime community.
March 8th - Chicago Maritime Museum
April 12th - Chicago Maritime Museum
May 10th - BBQ at Chicago Harbor Lock
June 21st - Jefferson Beach Yacht Club
July - 12th - Chicago Fireboat Tours
August 9th - Burnham Park Yacht Club
September 13th - BBQ at Crowley's Yacht Yard
October 4th - Chicago's First Lady Cruises
November 11 - Billy Goat - Scholarship Fundraiser 6 PM
Meeting dates are tentative.
Meetings start at 7 pm