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Red Ensign raised in Mid & East Antrim for Merchant Navy Day

Mayor Alderman Noel Williams and Stuart Wilson, Harbour Master at the Port of Larne, prepare to raise the Red Ensign

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has marked national Merchant Navy Day in honour of the men and women who provided essential supplies to the UK during both World Wars and to celebrate our dependence on modern day merchant seafarers.

The Red Ensign, the Merchant Navy's official flag, was raised at the Port of Larne on Saturday 3 September by the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim.

Prior to the flag-raising ceremony, messages were read from the Earl of Wessex and the Admiral, The Right Honourable, The Lord West of Spithead GCB, DSC, PC.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Noel Williams, said:

“Merchant Navy Day is an important occasion in which we have the opportunity to reflect on and honour the great work that is carried out tirelessly by the men and women of the Merchant Navy.”

The 3 September was designated as Merchant Navy Day to commemorate the date on which the first British merchant vessel, SS Athenia, was torpedoed and sunk by the Germans, just hours after Britain’s declaration of war on this day in September 1939.

The Mayor continued:

“Merchant Navy Day gives us the opportunity to honour the brave men and women who kept our Island Nation afloat during two World Wars, as well as those who serve today.

“The UK continues to rely on Merchant Navy seafarers for 95% of our imports, including half of the food which we eat and many other products which we take for granted in our everyday lives. During the pandemic, we saw once again how indispensable the merchant marine is to our nation.

“By flying the Merchant Navy Day flag we are showing our support and appreciation to the men and women who work tirelessly on our behalf to keep the country moving, and we are very proud to do so”.

Harbour Master, Stuart Wilson, added:

“We, at Larne Harbour, feel very privileged to be able to host Merchant Navy Day and to honour the brave men and women who kept our Island Nation afloat during both World Wars.

“In the First and Second World Wars nearly 15,000 merchant seafarers were killed, including seafarers from our own area. The story of how those merchant ships braved the seas to get supplies through at a crucial time in our history is well-known and should never be forgotten.

“Both in the past and in our modern world, the Merchant Navy, despite adverse conditions, has continued to provide the vital links upon which so much that we, as Island Nations, rely. The recent years of the pandemic have highlighted that the Merchant Navy has played a key role in keeping our economy and essential services functioning, something which we can be very thankful for.”

Seafarers UK is a leading grant-making charity that helps people in the maritime community, by providing vital funding to support seafarers in need and their families.


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