Merchant Navy Day on 3 September has been recognised by UK seafarers since 2000.
This year, in a bid to raise public awareness of this vital industry, more than 150 local authorities will be flying the Red Ensign, the UK Merchant Navy’s flag since 1854, on public buildings and landmark flagstaffs, in response to a campaign by the leading maritime charity Seafarers UK, supported by the Merchant Navy Association.
The charity’s President, HRH The Earl of Wessex, has endorsed the campaign, saying: ‘On this Merchant Navy Day, I very much hope you will support this campaign to remember the sacrifices, salute the courage and support the future of the often unsung personnel of our Merchant Navy.’
Now Seafarers UK is calling on the Government formally to recognise Merchant Navy Day on 3 September as the official day on which the UK’s historical and ongoing dependence on Merchant Navy seafarers is commemorated, and their special needs acknowledged.
The UK relies on merchant seafarers for 95% of our imports, including half the food we eat. We have the largest ports industry in Europe and 75% of our exports are shipped from UK ports.
Seafarers UK’s Director General, Commodore Barry Bryant, explained: ‘Our research showed that there was a nationwide lack of public awareness about the pivotal importance of our merchant shipping industry and the needs of its people. We therefore started campaigning for local councils to fly the Red Ensign on 3 September, presuming that Merchant Navy Day itself was already on the Government’s list of national flag-flying days. It came as a surprise to discover that it is not, nor is it an official Day of Remembrance – which I think bears out our original findings.’
‘We now have the chance to ensure that Merchant Navy Day becomes an important annual opportunity for the nation to say “thank you” to current and former Merchant Navy seafarers. I urge the Government to mark 3 September accordingly, acknowledging that our island nation is as dependent on seafarers today as it was during the First and Second World Wars.’
Nick Harvey, Campaigns Manager, Seafarers UK, phone 020 7932 5969, email email@example.com