Tuesday, September 3, 2019

75 Years of Maritime Service Highlights the Importance of Ocean Cargo Shipping Sector to the UK

Merchant Navy Medal Winners Include an Heroic 93 Year Old Year Veteran Captain
Shipping News Feature
UK – As an island race the British have a long association with the sea and, in an age when crews tend to have an international flavour, there is still room to celebrate those sailors from home and abroad who have contributed, particularly on this, Merchant Navy day (September 3), with the announcement of the recipients of the 2019 Merchant Navy Medal awards.

Heading the list this year is a 93-year-old seafarer who began his nautical career 75 years ago, and has now been given the highest honour in shipping. Captain Angus McDonald is one of 19 men and women receiving a Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service to the UK’s maritime industry.

Setting out to sea with the Merchant Navy at the height of the Second World War, Captain McDonald served in international waters for more than 20 years including a spell navigating the treacherous seas off the West African coast as a port pilot in Ghana, and he has now been honoured for his ‘heroic’ service.

Captain McDonald started his nautical career in the Merchant Navy in 1943. He served at sea for 24 years, in international shipping in dry-cargo ships and oil tankers and for four years undertook that stint as a port pilot in Ghana. His passion for teaching and improving conditions for seafarers, led him to create teaching courses in the private sector and through the Nautical Institute in Halifax.

In ‘retirement’, Captain McDonald became involved in international and local marine projects through the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Canadian Executive Service Organisation (CESO) to assist countries in upgrading their seafarer training institutes and developing crew training courses.

Captain McDonald has also been deeply involved in organising numerous international conferences and seminars on a wide range of shipping issues including Cleaner Seas, Autonomous Shipping and the Criminalization of Seafarers. The 93-year-old who now lives in Canada, continues to be involved in the Company of Master Mariners of Canada and the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust and also volunteers as a lecturer at the International Oceans Institute.

Among the others honoured is Captain Rachel Dunn, who started her career in the Merchant Navy and later became the first female Admiralty Pilot. This annual Merchant Navy Day celebrates the vital role of Merchant Navy seafarers and the contribution they continue to make to the country, as well as their well-known service during wartime.

Other notable recipients include Captain Mark Meade, who found his passion for all things maritime working alongside his father on small workboats and tugs. Captain Meade has worked throughout his career to improve the safety and standards of the industry and is now Chairman of the National Workboats Association.

Meanwhile once again the progress toward gender equality is shown by the award to Captain Fran Collins who began her early career at sea after undertaking a dual cadetship with Shell Tankers. In 1997 she qualified with Deck and Engineer licences (Steam & Motor). The passionate seafarer sailed in various deck and engineering ranks on deep-sea oil and gas tankers, before moving into the telecommunications industry as a deck officer.

After 5 years, Fran joined Condor Ferries as Chief Officer and, after having gained a full Unlimited Masters’ licence, she became the Ferry Company’s first female Captain. In 2008 Fran moved to shore and continued to progress her career through several executive roles before becoming the CEO of Southampton based ferry company Red Funnel last year. At sea and on land, Fran is dedicated to boosting safety and managing risks and continues to work with the industry to find collaborative solutions and ongoing improvements.

Fran says she remains committed to raising the profile of shipping and ferries at all levels and has been keen to encourage young people to consider shipping and marine as a career choice by proudly drawing upon her own experience at sea. She too has been honoured with a Merchant Navy Medal.

This is the fourth year that the Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service will be awarded following its introduction in 2016. This year’s ceremony honouring the recipients will take place at Trinity House on Wednesday 6 November and, announcing the 2019 awards. Nusrat Ghani, Maritime Minister, said:

“It is a privilege to announce the recipients of this year’s Merchant Navy Medal, for their service both at sea and on land. These remarkable men and women have gone above and beyond their duty to provide an invaluable service not only to our maritime industry, but to our nation.

“Their impressive contributions to the maritime sector have boosted the heart of the industry while also paving the way for the future generations of seafarers, and I would like to thank them for their work.”

A full list of recipients of the awards can be seen HERE and nominations for the 2020 awards of the Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service are now open with further information on how to submit nominations to be found HERE.