National Mariners Association
124 N. Van Street Houma, LA. 70363
Captan Richard Block Secretary/Historian
Captain J. David Miller Master of Towing Vessels - IT/IS Services

Operations & Activities


The National Mariners Association is a national organization that currently coordinates its activities from a functional office borrowed from its Secretary’s well established “day job” of researching and editing textbooks for mariners.

        NMA is an Association of credentialed “limited-tonnage” merchant mariners who serve or served primarily on merchant vessels of less than 1,600 gross tons.  Our Association abandoned the Coast Guard term “lower-level mariner” because we believed it was demeaning, unpopular, and out of date.

        Our Association progressed from its Gulf of Mexico regional base to a nationwide organization.  Our Directors live and work in diverse areas on the east, west, and Gulf coasts, on inland waters and the western rivers.  We changed the name of the Association to “National Mariners Association” although many of our older “reports” still bear our old GCMA logo.

        We invite mariners from all over the country whether union or non-union to support our efforts on behalf of all 126,000 “limited-tonnage” active or retired credentialed mariners wherever they may be and on whatever commercial vessel they may be working.  In addition, there are many entry-level mariners not counted in this number who could profit from sharing information gathered from other mariners.

        Our membership also includes a number of attorneys who serve as counselors and have been willing to share their expertise with our members.  We invite our members to call upon them for legal advice and counsel before they need their legal services.  Our lawyers are listed on our website.

        We also suggest that all our credentialed officers consider purchasing license insurance to provide personal legal protection in case some unexpected job-related casualty suddenly strikes.  NMA Report #R-204-C, Rev. 6 explains our reasoning.  A number of past events explained in NMA Report #R-204, Rev. 4 provide concrete examples of the variety of legal perils our mariners face.

        For mariners who believe that all maritime employers treat injured mariners fairly and with compassion, we suggest that examining some cases our Association encountered in NMA Report #R-202, Rev. 5.  That said, we are NOT lawyers at NMA; we do not offer “legal advice;” we do NOT sell insurance; and we DON’T get “commissions” from lawyers or insurance companies!  However, we DO accept donations and provide access to our professional products with the payment of modest membership dues of $36.00 per year to defray our expenses.

        Our Association works to encourage professionalism, improve working conditions, health, safety, and welfare of masters, mates, pilots, licensed and unlicensed engineers, tankermen, deckhands, and cooks who work on vessels including tugs, towboats, small passenger vessels, uninspected passenger vessels, offshore supply vessels and other “workboats” and other commercial vessels. 

        To be a professional, you need to keep informed of what is going on in the industry.  We try to help you to do this in our NMA Newsletter.  However, we ask you to take the time to read our newsletters and reports.  We use the www.nationalmariners.us website maintained for us by Captain J. David Miller in Davenport, Iowa.  Hopefully, our mariners can remain better informed than mariners who are unwilling to take the time to keep up-to-date on the issues. 

        Our Association was founded in 1999, has a thirteen-year track-record, and has left a well-documented paper trail in the form of NMA Reports and Newsletters that our Webmaster lists or displays on our website.  If you want a copy of any report, either e-mail richardblock@nationalmariners.us or call us and leave a message at 985-851-2134. 

To stretch our limited funds, we generally forward “reports” and “newsletters” by e-mail.  We ask mariners to visit our website, find out everything we are trying to do and help document and support our activities because….

  • We are an active Association that consistently stands up for issues that affect our mariners.  We count on our mariners to provide us with information to develop our issues.  We want to share the collected information with them!  This is a two way street using phone, fax, and e-mail.
  • We are “The Voice for Limited Tonnage Mariners” and speak out on important national and regional issues that affect mariners.  However, we need the help of mariners to bring these issues to our attention and the attention of the “right people” in government and industry.  That’s why we try to reduce everything to writing and leave the “paper trail” to follow.  We count on mariners to read our writings and then describe events that affect you in your own words.  If you believe “something must be done” that will benefit other mariners, ask us if what you are asking makes sense within the “big picture” – so together we can work effectively to make it happen.  We will try to guide mariners to the right contact person for any given issue and help make the contact.  But, it works both ways.  Sometimes mariners must tell us what is going on and then keep us posted.
  • Most of our Directors are now or have been working mariners with years of experience on the western rivers, inland waters, or on oceans or coastwise waters.  We will encourage our mariners to contact them by phone relative to their areas of expertise.
  • By joining us, a mariner has an opportunity to become part of the solution and not part of the problem.  However, we must work hard and touch all bases to make the solution the right solution.  We encourage mariners to take advantage of that opportunity by participating in our activities whenever you have the chance to do so.

—       Our Report #R-350, Revision 6, boils down the major issues we brought to the attention of the 112th Congress.  Our Newsletter will give mariners any changes in the status of these issues.  Report #R-350, Rev. 6 updates the 25 primary issues we first brought to the attention of Congress years ago.  A number of changes favorable to our mariners appeared in the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 that we covered in Newsletter #73 (Oct. 2010) and reprinted in NMA Report #R-203-F.  This reflects four years of work in the 110th and 111th Congress that will affect our mariners in the future.