Friday, August 28, 2015

Britain's Ports Will Fly the Flag on Merchant Navy Day

Red Duster to be Seen All Round the UK
Shipping News Feature

UK – The Handy Shipping Guide has a special duty to celebrate the 3rd of September each year, since 2000 this has been Merchant Navy Day, and it was the Merchant Navy that first launched the Handy Shipping Guide in its original printed form way back in 1887. What is less well known is that the day marks not only the day that war was declared in 1939, but also marks the first major British maritime casualty, the merchant vessel SS Athenia, torpedoed just a few hours after hostilities were declared with the loss of 128 passengers and crew.

Details of how to support the day were announced some time ago on a link from the Seafarers UK charity website and the information there is still well worth a look, plus there is always the opportunity to sponsor a very worthwhile cause dedicated to improving the lives of sailors and their dependants. Last year Seafarers UK gave grants totalling nearly £2.5 million to more than 70 maritime welfare charities and organisations through such organs as the Merchant Navy Fund.

One organisation sworn to support the cause is Associated British Ports’ which has each of its 21 ports around Britain flying the Red Ensign, nicknamed the Red Duster on the day. The initiative to fly the flag has been endorsed by HRH the Earl of Wessex, President of Seafarers UK, who urged that people to ‘remember the sacrifices, salute the courage and support the future of the often unsung personnel of our Merchant Navy.’ As an island nation, the UK relies on seafarers for 95% of its imports, including half the food eaten, and three quarters of Britain’s exports. ABP Chief Executive James Cooper, said:

“As Britain’s leading ports group, our job is simply to keep Britain Trading. That would not be possible without the dedicated men and women who today keep alive the proud tradition of the Merchant Navy, ensuring Britain has access to global markets. All of ABP’s ports will honour their service by supporting this initiative from Seafarers UK and the Merchant Navy Association and proudly flying the Red Duster.”