On the 3rd September 1939 marked the outbreak of World War II, few are aware that it also marks the first major British maritime casualty, the merchant vessel SS Athenia was torpedoed just a few hours after hostilities were declared, with the loss of 128 passengers and crew. To quote Admiral the Honourable The Lord West of Spithead “Although many hundreds of merchant seafarers would meet the same fate in the years to come, 3rd September is now enshrined as Merchant Navy Day, and calls on local authorities to fly the Red Ensign to celebrate a glorious seafaring past and a vital part of the nation’s economic future”. 

The Red Ensign or the Red Duster as it’s affectionately known has been the recognised flag of the British Merchant Navy since 1854.

This year major charities such as the Merchant Navy Welfare Board, Seafarers UK and the Gibraltar Seafarers Welfare Board will once again join our colleges in commemorating this day. The Red Ensign will be flown from H.E. the Governor’s residence, the Chief Minister’s Office No6 Convent, Commander British Forces H.Q the Tower, Parliament House, City Hall, Port Authority and GibDock. This year the Red Ensign will be projected on to the Moorish castle on the day. We invite the Shipping Agents and the general public to join with us in recognition of the men and women of the Merchant Navy by flying the Red Ensign it also serves to honour modern day merchant seafarers.

Message of support from the HRH Earl of Wessex was read out on Merchant Navy Day 2015 which he has asked should be repeated this year “encouraging people to remember the sacrifices, salute the courage and support the future of the often unsung personnel of our Merchant Navy”.

Cpt James Ferro MBE, MNM, GMD

Chairman GSWB

28-08-2019 PANORAMAdailyGIBRALTAR