The IMarEST was founded in the UK on February 12 1889 with a desire to uphold engineers’ status, rights and competence.

In 1888, ten members of the Poplar Branch of the Marine Engineers Union sent a circular to the Chief Engineers of every steamer in the Port of London, in which they were invited to join what was to be called the Institute of Marine Engineers.

The inaugural meeting of the new Institute was held at the Workmen’s Hall in Stratford, East London where our first President, Asplan Bedlam (pictured), was elected. He expressed the hope that the Institute would become a power not only in London but throughout the world.

Our first Honorary Secretary, James Adamson, was also elected at that meeting. He would go on to serve as Secretary for 50 years. He was succeeded by Mr B C Curling, who authored the book 'History of the Institute of Marine Engineers' in 1961. 

In 1891 the Institute moved into premises at 58 Romford Road, Stratford which it occupied until the outbreak of the First World War, after which it relocated to 85-88 Minories at Tower Hill.


In 1912 the Institute of Marine Engineers, in co-operation with the Daily Chronicle, set up a fund to help families of the engineer officers of RMS Titanic, which sank on 15th of April that year. This fund was the origin for the IMarEST’s Guild of Benevolence, a charity providing assistance to those in need within the marine community and their dependants worldwide. 

On 16 March 1933, the IMarEST was granted a Royal Charter by the Privy Council. The Charter empowers IMarEST to offer Professional Registration specifically aimed at marine professionals.

The Institute also received a Crest of Arms (pictured) which brings together symbols of engineering and science. The Latin motto inscribed translates as "knowingly by the sea".

Incorporating Science & Technology for the 21st Century

Under Keith Read CBE, the newly appointed fifth Secretary, the Institute moved to 80 Coleman Street in 1999. Keith was the prime mover in broadening the Institute as an international organisation, embracing science and technology alongside marine engineering, and promoting the close interactions of marine engineers, scientists and technologists.

The Institute was renamed to reflect this, becoming the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology.

Today the IMarEST boasts a major presence in four continents, with communities in the Americas, Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific regions. A regional headquarters was opened in Singapore in 2009, before moving to their new home in 2023.


The Institute launched a number of new branches in the 2010s, including Manila, Philippines in 2016 and in Yangon, Myanmar in 2017, allowing the IMarEST to service the increasing demand for membership in the region.

In 2016, the IMarEST’s global headquarters in London moved from Aldgate to Westminster which has strengthened the Institute's technical voice and international standing, by bringing it closer to some of the places where key decisions impacting the maritime industry are made.

Now as in 1889, we aim to fulfil our mission of working with the global marine community to promote scientific development, provide opportunities for the exchange of ideas and practices and uphold the status, standards and expertise of marine professionals worldwide. 

To learn more about the IMarEST today and our vision for the future, read about our 2023-2025 Strategy.