Red Ensign flies in honour of the Merchant Navy


The Red Ensign is flying at County Hall in recognition of Merchant Navy Day today (3 Sept).

Somerset County Council is joining local authorities across the country in flying the flag, raising awareness of the UK’s on-going dependence on Merchant Navy seafarers and remembering the wartime sacrifices they made.

The Second World War broke out on 3 September and every year since 2000 this date has been marked as Merchant Navy Day.

Councillor Rod Williams, Chair of Somerset Armed Forces Partnership, said: “We are delighted to support Merchant Navy Day, raising the flag on the day our seafarers are remembered.

“A seafarer’s job is hazardous and challenging, but also vitally important when it comes to making sure this country has a secure supply of essential food and fuel.”

The work of the Merchant Service during World War One led King George V to decree in 1928 that they should be known as the ‘Merchant Navy’. By the end of the Second World War more than 4,700 British ships had been sunk and more than 35,000 merchant seamen had lost their lives.

As an island nation the UK relies still on Merchant Navy seafarers for 95 per cent of its imports, including half the food we eat, most of the fuel we burn and the products and goods we take for granted.

In December 2015, the Armed Forces Covenant was extended to cover members of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) and the Merchant Navy.

The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise from the nation to those who serve, or have served, that they will be treated fairly and not disadvantaged in their day-to-day lives.

The civilian-manned RFA provides logistical and operational support that is an essential enabler to the Royal Navy’s global reach and influence. The RFA is in the middle of a modernisation programme that will make it the most modern and capable for its size in the world.  The RFA’s ships are fuel tankers and ‘solid support’ ships that deliver everything other than fuel, such as food, ammunition and spares of all kinds.


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