Seafarers UK is calling on flagpole owners across the UK to support the charity’s annual ‘Fly the Red Ensign for Merchant Navy Day’ campaign.

With no public flag-hoisting ceremonies being encouraged this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Seafarers UK is asking local authorities, councils, businesses and organisations with flagpoles at their headquarters or other premises to fly a Red Ensign on 3 September.

Last year, a Red Ensign was flown at more than 1,000 locations, including 10 Downing Street, generating a huge volume of social media activity. In Scotland, Merchant Navy Day is deemed to be a national flag-flying day – and across the UK, there are no restrictions on when or where a Red Ensign may be flown ashore.

Despite the wide-ranging impacts of Covid-19, merchant seafarers have been working hard to keep the UK supplied with food, fuel, medicines and other essential goods, says Seafarers UK. But despite being recognised by some governments as key workers, most seafarers are still being prevented from disembarking in many ports on global trade routes.

Tens of thousands of seafarers have been compelled to keep working after their contracts end, as replacement crews are unable to leave their home countries to resume working at sea. The impacts on ‘stranded’ seafarers are inevitable, including ill health, anxiety and poverty.

The symbolic act of flying the British merchant navy’s official flag ashore therefore provides a timely opportunity to raise public awareness of our maritime nation’s ongoing dependence on merchant seafarers, says Seafarers UK.

A guide to supporting the campaign can be downloaded from:

All participants who register online will be added to the charity’s roll of honour, and will be sent a commemorative certificate.

Since 2000, Merchant Navy Day on 3 September has honoured the men and women who kept our island nation afloat during the two world wars, and celebrated our dependence on modern-day merchant seafarers, who are responsible for over 90% of the UK’s imports, including almost half of the food we eat.


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