Vessel Agents "Home Port Ambassadors"

The USGLSA is an association of vessel agents. What is a vessel agent? An agent represents a vessel’s Owner or Operator at each U.S. port-of-call and takes care of the needs of that vessel and its crew while there. Commonly, the vessel has just sailed from a foreign port and has numerous governmental regulatory requirements which must be met. The agent has a working knowledge of each requirement and stays current as they change – which they often do! A vessel agent can help with any vessel operation and need – whether commercial or private, international or domestic – while in the port(s) they cover. In fact, the vessel agent is the best first call if there are questions about a particular port, terminal, or operation.

Everything about an agent is “local”, The agent understands the local culture, rules and conditions, and interfaces with the local government agency representatives, working to make a port call safe, efficient and productive. A ship agent is on call 24 hours a day when the ship is in port and readying for a visit or finalizing paperwork once it has departed. Being a vessel agent is a unique job and one which can provide the most extraordinary insights to commercial maritime activity in the Great Lakes.

USGLSA has produced a renewed brochure which describes in more detail how it serves its Members and their principals/customers. Below is a link to the text of that brochure.  Copies can also be obtained from the Association at the contact points indicated below. See our Brochure.

The United States Great Lakes Shipping Association - Supporting Safe, Efficient and Reliable Commercial Vessel Operations in the U.S. Great Lakes

The USGLSA was established in 1956 to support the work of U.S. vessel agents. Originally based in Chicago, the Association now handles vessel agent issues throughout the entire U.S. Great Lakes – from Duluth, MN to the U.S. Seaway locks in Massena, NY. The Association stays current on regulatory, legislative, and operations policy changes as they may impact commercial vessel operations in the Great Lakes. The Association is active in monitoring programs, regulations and issues regarding:

  • United States Coast Guard (Security, Port-State Control, Pilotage, Ballast Water, etc.)
  • Customs and Border Protection (Customs, Immigration, USDA Inspections)
  • Congressional actions impacting U.S. and Great Lakes maritime
  • Navigation services under NOAA, USACE, USCG
  • Port access and services
  • Canadian policy and activities
  • Regulations impacting the U.S. maritime marketplace

The Association leadership has been engaged with the following organizations/activities:

  • National Association of Maritime Organizations (NAMO)
  • Great Lakes Pilotage Advisory Committee (GLPAC)
  • National Maritime Security Advisory Committee (NMSAC)
  • Green Marine
  • Marine Delivers (link)
  • Great Lakes Seaway Partnership (link)

The Association holds its annual meeting in March at a Lakes port determined by the membership. The Association holds monthly meetings by conference call.

To receive information about the Association, contact the Association at