Council supports Merchant Navy Day with official flag raising ceremony
East Devon District Council proudly flew the Red Ensign at exactly 10am yesterday (3 September) at Knowle, Sidmouth, in commemoration of Merchant Navy Day, to help raise awareness of the UK’s ongoing dependence on Merchant Navy seafarers.
The council was supporting a nationwide call from the Seafarers UK charity and the Merchant Navy Association for the UK Merchant Navy’s official flag to be flown on public buildings and landmark flagstaffs.
More than 400 local authorities throughout the UK were invited by Seafarers UK and the Merchant Navy Association to participate in ‘Fly the Red Ensign for Merchant Navy Day’.
Merchant Navy Day has been commemorated since 2000 on 3 September, the anniversary of the sinking of the SS Athenia, the first British merchant vessel lost during World War Two.
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.
The UK has the largest ports industry in Europe - 75% of our exports (by volume) are shipped from UK ports, some of which are supporting the campaign by encouraging visiting ships to sound their horns at 10am on 3 September.
Too often they are the forgotten or invisible service. By raising the Red Ensign we will ensure that at least on this day they are remembered. This act will mean so much to their families and to the retired, but most especially to those at sea.
Mark Williams, Chief Executive of East Devon District Council, who is a former lifeboat helmsman, said:
We are proud to be helping honour the brave men and women who helped keep our island nation afloat during two World Wars. It is only right and fitting that we celebrate our dependence on modern day merchant seafarers who are responsible for 95% of the UK’s imports, including half the food we eat.