The Council of American Master Mariners is dedicated to supporting and strengthening the United States Merchant Marine and the position of the Master by fostering the exchange of maritime information and sharing our experience.


We are committed to the promotion of nautical education, the improvement of training standards, and the support of the publication of professional literature. The Council monitors, comments, and takes positions on local, state, federal and international legislation and regulation that affect the Master.

Mission Statement:


The Council of American Master Mariners is dedicated to supporting and strengthening the United States Merchant Marine and the position of the Master by fostering the exchange of maritime information and sharing our experience. We are committed to the promotion of nautical education, the improvement of training standards,
and the support of the publication of professional literature. The Council monitors, comments, and takes positions on local, state, federal and international legislation and regulation that affect the Master.

CAMM is a national professional organization of active and retired Captains,

Pilots and Maritime Associates working for the betterment of the American Merchant Marine.


Established in 1936, the Council is independent of any union, school or company.


CAMM is a non-profit 501(c)6 corporation.

The Council of American Master Mariners, Inc.

The Council of American Master Mariners, Inc. was founded in 1936 by a nucleus of distinguished American Shipmasters

who felt there was a need to share their expertise with other shipmasters, the Maritime Community and the public.

They were concerned with maintaining the standards and prestige of the American Merchant Marine and the Shipmaster.

Their principles are set forth in the Council’s Declaration of Policy. Listed below...

Promote an effective, efficient, prosperous American Merchant Marine, which is of maximum benefit to the nation, the shipper,

the mariner, the shipowner and the financial community.


To render a public service by expressing the considered professional opinions of Master Mariners regarding maritime issues.


To encourage and promote advances in nautical education, training standards, and the publication

of professional literature for the American Mariner.


To cultivate an attitude of continuing education within the profession.


To foster and exchange of information between, and promote a spirit of friendship and common purpose among all organizations

whose member share dedicated to a strong United States flag merchant fleet.


To support and encourage improvements in all nautical facilities.


To enhance the rightful prestige of the American Master Mariner.

Several of these principles are mirrored in other maritime civic organizations. Others, such as enhancing the prestige of the master, seem embarrassingly self-serving. Why then a Council of American Master Mariners?


The answer can be found in the viability of an active, national, non-profit organization comprised of nearly 1100 member masters and pilots. In an industry undergoing rapid and dramatic technological changed, constantly pressured by reduced manning programs and ever increasing punitive regulation, the need for the masters input in shipping appropriate policies and regulations has never been greater.


At the same time, with vessels that are ever larger, more complex and potentially hazardous, the ability of the ship master to control his/her destiny has need seriously eroded. A modern master has little say in the selection of his officers and crew. He is practically ignored in developing the regulations that effect his professional responsibilities and often considered too ‘old fashioned’ or ‘tradition bound.’ to be effective in formulating progressive company policy. A modern shipmaster and/or pilot can find his views, his voice, ignored and isolated from the fast-moving stream of ‘progress.’ Yet the responsibility of the ship and its safety will never leave his side.


The voice of a single master is easily overwhelmed by the tide of change. At best, the outspoken master may be seen as an individual with a single, albeit experienced, self-serving point of view. At worst, he or she may be perceived by their employer and others as a ‘trouble-maker’ or lacking in ‘team spirit’ if their views do not reflect the company goals. The stand-alone, say-what-I-think master may have the courage of his convictions, but he or she is rarely effective.


CAMM offers a channel to be heard. As a member your voice is added to more than a thousand others representing all vessel types, cutting across company divisions and ignoring union affiliations. It is a voice based upon the prestige of ship command and backed by the collective expertise of over 20,000 years of maritime experience.


But was good are these voices if no one is listening? The greatest irony of our industry is that the maritime community and its regulatory agencies recognizes the importance of the masters’ opinion. They sincerely wish to avail themselves of that maritime expertise, but generally have reservations in accepting such help from labor lobbyist groups or individuals.


The Council of American Master Mariners, Inc. finds itself in a unique position to supply that expertise for both the industry and the public good. This was the intention of the founding members and it remains true today. The Council, representing a broad and diverse spectrum of master mariners, as well as experience, is respectfully listened to.


If you are a master mariner or pilot, you are welcome to join us in this endeavor. Our goals, as stated in the declaration of policy, remain as valid today as they were in 1936. Today the Council is newly revitalized and energized with a sense of purpose supported by the membership. It’s not about enhancing your social life. It’s about being heard. It’s about making a difference for ourselves, the Merchant Marine, and our nation.

CAMM Sponsors


Sidelights October 2018 issue is out now!


View from the Bridge

Captain Jeff Cowan- Experienced Licensed Mariners may soon help

                                     the USCG in Marine Inspection


In the Council

When the Rudder loses its Rudder

Captain Corso  A Keel Properly Laid



The Importance of the TEL Morro Castle to the Maritime Industry

Why Icebreakers Are Vital


News from IFSMA and IMO

iFSMA Moves to New Headquarters

Empowering Women in the Maritime Community


Download the Oct 2018 Issue now. (PDF format, 4.5 MB)

Council NEWS!



Call to Action – Contact Your Congressman

This is the week to make an impact


Funding for Heavy Icebreaker cut by the House – Bill to be voted on before the end of the 2018.


CAMM has asked Congress to support a vital mission in the Arctic, but we won’t succeed without our members help. Congressional staff are negotiating the details of a bill to fund the Coast Guard for Fiscal Year 2019 as we write this. We need CAMM members to contact their Congressional Representative and tell them they need to have the funding for icebreaker procurement reinstated in the FY19 Budget


The administration requested $750 million for icebreaker procurement in FY19, and the Senate included the money in its funding bill, but the House stripped it out.


Russia and China, are investing heavily in their own Arctic presence: Russia has over 40 icebreakers. We must ensure the new Polar Security Cutter heavy icebreaker is delivered by 2023 or we risk being excluded from this important region.


Our friends at the Navy League have made it easy to send a message. Here is their link:



The Energizing American Shipbuilding Act











On Maritime Day, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, introduced the Energizing American Shipbuilding Act.  The bill is H.R. 5893 and co-sponsored by Congressmen Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Joseph Courtney (D-CT) and Robert Wittman (R-VA). An identical bill, S-2916, has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and co-sponsored by Senator Robert Casey (D-PA).


CAMM National President, Captain Jeff Cowan, has written a letter in support of this bill and

urges all CAMM members to contact their Congressmen and Senators in support of this Act.


Use the appropriate bill number when contacting your representative:

Bill H.R. 5893 for the House of Representatives

Bill     S  2916 for the Senate


To see more information on Congressman Garamendi’s bill click Here .


To read the entire bill go to H.R 5893


 Did you know?



If you are a active seagoing Master and a member of CAMM, you are automatically a member of the International Federation of Ship Masters Association (IFSMA). CAMM pays your membership dues. This entitles you to contact IFSMA for support if needed. It is also your voice at IMO. Since 1975 IFSMA has had Consultative Status at IMO as a non-governmental organization (NGO). This allows IFSMA to represent the views and protect the interests of seagoing Shipmasters. Check out the link to IFSMA on this website for more information.


2018 Professional Development Conference Update


Speakers at CAMM's 2018 Professional Development Conference along with the Closing Awards Event can be viewed on Maritime TV.

Click on the link:







Quick Reference Member links

Why Become A CAMM Member?

If you are an actively sailing master, you are also a member of IFMA (CAMM pays your dues). This entitles you to all the benefits of being a member of IFSMA. Should you happen to be involved in a maritime incident outside of the United States, you can contact IFSMA for help and guidance.


Free subscription to Sidelights, the Council’s bi-monthly (5 issues a year).

Membership card and membership roster.


Representation at IMO through CAMM’s affiliation with the International Federation of Ship Masters Associations (IFSMA).

Access to a network of other master mariners through CAMM’s chapters, committees, Sidelights publication, and online presence.

Membership Eligibility


RU - Unlimited Master Mariner License who commanded vessels over 5,000 GRT on ocean voyages.

RP - Senior or First Class Pilot with minimum of one year experience on vessels 20,000 GRT or more.




S - Unlimited Master’s license but who has not commanded a vessel or vessels of over 5000 GRT on voyages.

SP - Second or Third Class Pilot on vessels less than 20,000 GRT.

S16 - USCG 1600 ton Master’s license who has commanded a vessel or vessels on voyages.

S5 - USCG 500 ton Master’s license who has commanded a vessel or vessels on voyages.




A - U.S. water transportation company in an executive, administrative or operational capacity, Military Equivalent of Master Mariner, Notable person in maritime related fields.

AL - Licensed Deck Officer with USCG license/credential, Any Gross Tons and currently sailing on vessels over 5,000 GT.

AC - Cadet: Any Cadet/Midshipman attending one of the state maritime academies or the US Merchant Marine Academy.

AF - Foreign Master Mariner: A person holding a foreign Master Mariners unlimited license who has commanded vessels over 5,000 GT.



Any member in good standing may apply for Life membership under the following conditions: retired from the maritime industry, over 70 years of age, and has paid total dues equal to or exceeding the amount required since joining the Council. Lifetime members shall retain rights and privileges of the membership class. Lifetime members are dues exempt. All lifetime memberships are subject to the Board of Governor’s approval.

Apply for consideration

Annual dues are $75. There is a one-time admission fee of $40.


Our online application form is currently unavailable. We apologize for the inconvenience

See print and mail instructions below


Print and mail in your application with a check

Download and fill out the PDF Application Form and mail with your check ($115)

and a copy of your license and last discharge to:


Captain George Zeluff

Membership Chair

3774 Tennyson St.

San Deigo, CA  92107-2410



To have the application mailed or emailed to you,

please send your request to the above address (include return address) or email Captain Zeluff

What CAMM Does For You

CAMM is a member of IFSMA, which is in turn a member of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) of the United Nations. At present the US Maritime Industry - Merchant Marine is represented by two U.S. Coast Guard Officers in the IMO. Although the U.S. Coast Guard casts a vote in the IMO, that vote is controlled by the State Department - Not the Maritime Industry or Merchant Marine. CAMM’s membership in IFSMA provides its members a valuable voice in the IMO.


The expertise of CAMM members is well recognized throughout the world maritime community, resulting in frequent requests to CAMM to provide expert witness testimony in cases in which a Licensed Deck Officer is charged with a violation of the law or of a crime.


CAMM is working to change legal practice in the United States, in which a licensed mariner may be charged with a capitol offense, whereas an individual in command of a truck, train, bus, airplane, or other conveyance engaged in a similar accident is not subject to capitol punishment.


CAMM is currently working to have Licensing and Documentation functions transferred from the Coast Guard to a civilian agency such as the Maritime Administration. Coast Guard resources are overwhelmed with Homeland Security issues, severely impacting their ability to handle these functions effectively.


CAMM is advocating that maritime accident investigation be turned over to the National Transportation Accident Investigation board because insufficient training of Coast Guard investigators results in unfair convictions.


CAMM is dedicated improving the U.S. Merchant Marine and the position of the licensed officers serving on the bridge.


CAMM is a strong supporter of the US Merchant Marine Academy and six state Merchant Marine Academies where the best maritime education in the world is provided. We are also dedicated to improving maritime education and the skills taught to future officers.


CAMM works closely with professional mariner organizations around the world to protect the rights of licensed seamen from all nations.


CAMM constantly seeks ways to improve safety and environmental stewardship in ports, harbors, oceans, and other waterways around the world.


Triple CAMM’s Membership Drive

Effective January 2018, a current CAMM member who sponsors three or more new eligible, approved and paid members in a 12-month period will receive a CAMM Travel Mug. If you're not a CAMM member, and would like to become one, contact a CAMM member in your maritime community and ask them to sponsor you.


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The Council of American

Master Mariners, Inc.




PHONE: 805-901-9558


Captain Jeff Cowan, President

601 Teague Dr.

Santa Paula, CA 93060-1632



Captain Manny Aschemeyer

30623 Chihuahua Valley Rd

Warner Springs, CA 92086-9220


Hand Crafted By Premiere Design Studios  • 2017

The Council of American Master Mariners, Inc.