Merchant Navy Day is observed annually on September 3. In recognition of their sacrifice in World War I, King George V bestowed the title of Merchant Navy on British merchant seafarers. They are often regarded as the forgotten and invisible navy community. Modern-day merchant seafarers are responsible for the U.K.’s imports, including food and other daily products and goods. On this day, the Red Ensign is flown across the country to honor the brave men and women of the Merchant Navy.
HISTORY OF MERCHANT NAVY DAY
Merchant Navy Day is observed in the U.K. on September 3. The day commemorates an event in 1939 during World War II when the first U.K. merchant ship, “SS Athenia,” was torpedoed and sunk by Germany with a loss of over 120 passengers and crew. Merchant Navy Day raises public awareness of the country’s
ongoing dependence on merchant seafarers. The Seafarers’ Charity (formerly Seafarers U.K.) started the Fly the Red Ensign for the Merchant Navy Day campaign in 2015 to address ‘sea blindness,’ providing an opportunity to pay tribute to merchant seafarers. Merchant Navy Day became an official day of remembrance in 2000.
The Merchant Navy was the title coined by King George V to recognize the sacrifice of merchant seafarers in World War I, and several other nations have adopted the title since. During wartime, the Merchant Navy became an essential part of the support to carry servicemen and their supplies overseas. Around 185,000 people, civilians, and volunteers served in the Merchant Navy at the time. They were involved in the Battle of the Atlantic, struggling to deliver food, fuel, equipment, and raw materials. Over 14,000 people died in World War I, and more than 30,000 in World War II.
The Merchant Navy kept Britain afloat during both World Wars and is now responsible for delivering more than 90% of the U.K.’s imports and exports. The Merchant Navy consists of commercial and trading ships and their crews, and the ships fly the Red Ensign. The day is an opportunity to honor the brave men and women of the merchant seafarers for their service and sacrifice.
MERCHANT NAVY DAY TIMELINE
The Merchant Navy
King George V coins the title to recognize the sacrifices of the merchant seafarers in World War I.
The Largest Fleet
Britain has the largest fleet during both world wars, making up a third of the world’s merchant ships.
Merchant Navy Day becomes an official day of remembrance in the U.K.
The Seafarers’ Charity starts the Fly the Red Ensign on Merchant Navy Day campaign.
HOW TO OBSERVE MERCHANT NAVY DAY
Make a donation
The Merchant Navy supported the country during the World Wars, and they still do. On Merchant Navy Day, donate to the Merchant Navy Fund to recognize the sacrifice and service they made.
Spread the news
Your country’s dependence on merchant seafarers is ongoing. So, to honor them, spread the news about the day so that more people know about it. Be supportive and mark the day.
Learn more about it
The Merchant Navy offers job opportunities for exciting careers. You might know someone who would be interested in signing up.
5 FACTS ABOUT SEAFARERS YOU NEED TO KNOW
They power the global economy
Almost all things sold worldwide are transported by ships.
Their job is dangerous
Not only do seafarers face storms and rough weather, but they are also at risk of piracy and of being taken as hostages.
They face extreme health problems
Seafarers are subject to physical hazards such as diseases and injuries as well as psychological problems, including fatigue, homesickness, and loneliness.
Women make up only 2%
Women make up only around 2% of worldwide seafarers.
They face criminalization and abandonment
Many seafarers have been criminalized, abandoned, and even not paid by their shipping companies.
WHY MERCHANT NAVY DAY IS IMPORTANT
It is a day for gratitude
Facts show that merchant seafarers are responsible for transporting most of the things sold worldwide. This day is celebrated to recognize our dependence on merchant seafarers.
It raises awareness
Merchant seafarers are often regarded as the forgotten and invisible navy community. The more people are aware, the more the merchant seafarers will know they are appreciated.
It is a day to learn about history
The Merchant Navy contributed during both World Wars. Learn about the history so that you can understand their contribution and honor them.
MERCHANT NAVY DAY FAQS
Is merchant navy a military?
The merchant navy is usually a non-military service, however, it can be STUFT (ship taken up from trade).
Is merchant navy a govt job?
No. However, Royal Fleet Auxiliary is.
What is the age limit for merchant navy?
The minimum age is 17 years, and there is no upper age limit.