In Nineteen Fifty-five, a group comprised of some of the younger marine underwriters of the time, conceived of, organized, and formed the association which is known today as the American Marine Insurance Forum. Its basic purpose was and is to promote friendship and camaraderie among its members and to provide frequent opportunities for them to discuss items of mutual professional interest. During the years since its formation, the association has endured well and has succeeded in serving the purpose envisioned by its founders.

We would like to express our appreciation to all those whose personal contributions were responsible for this success. We would like to thank not only the Charter Members, who designed and built the organization, but also those members, past and present, who provided the enthusiastic leadership and support wich enabled it to continue to grow and to prosper.



In the maritime tradition, the first informal discussions concerning the organization now known as the AMERICAN MARINE INSURANCE FORUM took place in coffee houses in the lower Manhattan insurance and financial district of New York City.

On October 8, 1954, twenty of the younger marine underwriters of the time met in the Board Room of the American Institute of Marine Underwriters - then on the 10th floor of the building at 99 John Street - to discuss the formation of an association. James R. Hersey acted as chairman at that meeting with Carroll Dawson as secretary. A committee selected from the attendees was appointed to consider and report on organizing such an association. Graham Jenkins was the chairman of that committee. On October 19, 1954, this committee formally recommended the establishment of an association designed "to promote advanced education in the field of ocean marine underwriting and to foster friendship and better understanding among the younger members of the ocean marine underwriting fraternity." On December 9, 1954, twenty-eight underwriters unanimously agreed to adopt the committee's recommendation and William S. Hoon was selected as chairman to preside during the period of organization.


On May 5, 1955 a meeting was called and a set of proposed bylaws, drafted by a committee chaired by Robert W. Hahn, was voted on and approved by the prospective membership consisting of, by this time, forty-one marine underwriters. It was at this point that the organization formally came into existence. A complete current edition of the bylaws is appended for reference.

The bylaws provided for the election of officers and directors and in general gave them a great deal of freedom in determining policy and in running day to day affairs of the Forum. The officers were to be elected annually to serve for a one year term, and were not eligible for re-election to the same office. There was to be no automatic succession; the treasurer did not automatically become vice-president, nor did the vice-president necessarily become president. However, to provide a measure of continuity, it became the custom to elect the retiring president and treasurer to to serve as directors for the ensuing year.

The first officers and directors to be elected were: E. Nicholas Muller, Jr., President: William Hoon, Vice-President: and Robert P. Mundhenk, Treasurer. These officers were also elected directors. Additional directors elected to fill the board were: Graham H. R. Jenkins, Thomas E. MacCormack, E. Ira Sparling, and Mark Wei. Carroll Dawson was officially appointed Secretary.


In November 1955, The Forum adopted an official seal. The design, by Robert P. Mundhenk, embodies a modern ship, a student's lamp, a scroll and a quill pen, and the clasped hands of friendship. The motto is "amicitia et scientia." It is interesting to note that friendship precedes and presumably opens the way to knowledge. This original seal has remained intact as has the appropriateness and significance of the motto.


While in the early stages of organization it had been planned that The Forum would seek the sponsorship of one of the existing marine insurance market organizations, it was soon apparent that The Forum could function properly only if it were entirely independent. It has remained so; however, mention must be made of the encouragement and invaluable assistance of several senior members of the market, particularly Emil A. Kratovil, Owen E. Baker, Percey Chubb 2nd, Harold Jackson, Madoe M. Pease, Carl E. McDowell, Thomas M. Torrey, Miles F. York, Edward R. King, Robert R. Dwelly, Carroll W. Dawson, Douglas C. Cox, Thomas A. Fain, and Thomas O. Clark. This interest has continued; many luncheon meetings attract a number of senior level underwriters who may be particularly interested in the topic for discussion.

Throughout The Forum's history, clerical services and filing space have been provided at a nominal fee by the American Institute of Marine Underwriters. Most of the business meetings and directors' meetings have been held in the Institute Board Room, under the rather stern eyes of former leaders of the marine insurance market whose portraits hang on the walls. We trust that we have not done irreparable damage to the business traditions which they bequeathed to us.


On November 16, 1954, the first luncheon meeting was held at Miller's Restaurant on Fulton Street. This meeting set the the example for many others which followed. It encouraged an informal atmosphere which did much to assist in promoting the friendship and camaraderie among marine underwriters which is so evident today, despite the often intense competition involved in daily business dealings. Since 1954, luncheon meetings have been held at Miller's, Whyte's, DePalmer's, Archer's, the Beekman, the Railroad Machinery Club, the Wall Street Club, the Lawyers Club, Robert E. Fulton's, Willy's on William Street, and other downtown clubs and restaurants. Today's monthly luncheon meetings are held at The Captain's Ketch.

On January 13, 1955, the first guest speaker addressed The Forum group. Sheldon A. Vogel of the law firm of Bingham, Englar, Jones and Houston gave a talk on hull and cargo aspects of a "Both to Blame" collision between two ships at sea. This talk and the subsequent discussion set the standard which has prevailed throughout The Forum's existence. Some later speakers and topics of discussion have been:





    Bruce McAllister

    McAllister Brothers

    Tug & Tow Boat Industry

    M. (Hank) Greenberg

    American Int'l Group

    N. Y. Insurance Exchange

    Frank Braynard

    Operation Sail

    Operation Sail

    John S. Rogers

    Burlingham, Underwood,
    & Lord

    Shipping to Saudi Arabia

    Joseph J. Cuneo

    Energy Transportation

    LNG Shipping

    Roy B. Williams &
    Norman Tucker

    A.I.G. Oil Rig Inc.
    American Offshore Ins.

    Joint Discussion Of
    Offshore Risks

    Robert S. Lagattolla

    Water Quality Insurance

    Pollution Legislation

    Guy Berado


    Security & Loss Prevention


    The original bylaws included membership requirements which provided that members be between the ages of 25 and 45, be employed in the ocean cargo or hull underwriting department of a marine underwriting organization, and have at least five years experience in the field. This meant that younger and, presumably, more enthusiastic people would continue to control the organization, since upon reaching the age of forty-five, one was required to retire from active membership.

    Interest in membership by a changing marine market caused some of the earlier membership requirements to be relaxed and amended in recent years. For example, membership has been extended to those over 45 years of age and those with less than 5 years experience, in order to provide the benefits of membership to a broader cross section of people engaged in careers in the marine insurance business.


    Shortly after the founding of The Forum it became apparent that the texts of many of the talks and papers presented and discussed at meetings would be of benefit to members and others in the market. It was decided to distribute them in the form of a bound volume entitiled "Proceedings of the American Marine Insurance Forum." Three such volumes were produced. During the 1978 year The Forum collected cargo data for the American Institute of Marine Underwriters for the United States Report of Cargo Loss Prevention to be presented to the IUMI conference.

    In more recent years, publications concerning items of interest to the marine insurance community have been distributed via Forum Log, a monthly newsletter directed to all members, as well as contemporary organizations overseas. In addition, The Forum in conjunction with AIMU (American Institute of Marine Underwriters) has arranged field trips to such facilities as the Sealand Terminal in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the Amver System Control Center on Governors Island and Marine Safety International on Long Island, the APL Container Facility in Kearny, New Jersey, and salvage operations at the S. A. Wald Cargo Salvage facility in Jersey City; all of which were designed to provide a visual enhancement of members' understanding of a marine topic of interest.


    In 1958 The Forum began the custom of awarding prizes to students in marine insurance who had earned recognition by virtue of their achievement in their course work.  (This has been discontinued due to budgetary constraints.)  In 1980 U.S. Savings Bonds were presesented to three students at the College of Insurance who earned the top grade in each of the Cargo, Hull, and P & I courses. **  Also, in 1979, in connection with its Silver Anniversary, The Forum donated $1,000.00 to the College of Insurance for the purpose of purchasing books related to the Ocean Marine field.

    On June 28, 1956 The Forum held its first annual golf outing at the South Shore Country Club on Staten Island. Twenty-eight members and guests played that day and attended the dinner which followed. Trophies were presented to winners and runners-up, and the "President's Cup," an antique brass spittoon found by Walter Perry in a Third Avenue second hand shop, was diligently polished, suitably inscribed and presented to the member posting the highest golf score.

    On December 14, 1955 The Forum held its first Christmas Party at Emil's Restaurant on Park Row. Although the buffet was excellent, the evening was memorable chiefly for the snow ball fight which developed afterwards. In later years this gathering continued to be held during the Christmas season, but had since then become to be known as the "Installation Dinner" where newly elected officers and directors are installed for the ensuing year.


    As is evident above, The Forum over the years has provided its membership with a variety of activities ranging from educational enrichment to social contact. It had also established some of its own traditions within a very traditional field. One of its larger accomplishments, however, has been to promote a sense of cohesiveness among the members of the marine underwriting community in New York. This sense of sharing and belonging is a valuable asset and adds an important dimension to each of our individual efforts toward the achievement of personal success.