Larne hosts Red Ensign ceremony on Merchant Navy Day

Merchant Navy Day raises awareness of the UK's ongoing dependence on seafarers.
Merchant Navy Day raises awareness of the UK's ongoing dependence on seafarers.
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The Red Ensign was raised by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and Port of Larne yesterday (Tuesday) to mark Merchant Navy Day.

Merchant Navy Day raises awareness of the UK’s ongoing dependence on seafarers.

The Deputy Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim Mr Liam Kelly, Larne Port interim harbour master Richard Hutchinson and the Mayor, Cllr Maureen Morrow, were joined by invited guests and members of the public in a short ceremony at the port.

The flag was also flown at council’s main offices in Ballymena, Larne and Carrickfergus.

This was to support a nationwide call from the Seafarers UK charity and the Merchant Navy Association for the flag to be flown on public buildings and landmark flagpoles.

Cllr Morrow said: “As a borough steeped in maritime history and home to one of Northern Ireland’s biggest ports, we have always depended on merchant seafarers to protect our shores and import vital food and fuel supplies.

“We’re pleased to be supporting the ‘Fly the Red Ensign for Merchant Navy Day’ in honour of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice throughout our history.”

In the First and Second World Wars nearly 15,000 merchant seafarers were killed.

The Deputy Mayor, Cllr Beth Adger said: “This annual event gives us an opportunity to highlight and commemorate the service of brave seafarers of the past, present and future. Larne Harbour offers a warm welcome to all seafarers and supports their welfare whilst they carry out their work that is so vital to our economy.”

The UK relies on Merchant Navy seafarers for 95% of imports, including half our food. It has the largest ports industry in Europe - 75% of our exports (by volume) are shipped from UK ports.

Merchant Navy Day has been commemorated since 2000 on September 3, the anniversary of the sinking of the SS Athenia, the first British merchant vessel lost during World War 2.

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.