Categories: BusinessPublished On: 22.08.2020457 words2.3 min read

Since 2000, Merchant Navy Day on 3rd September has honoured the brave men and women who kept our ‘island nation’ afloat during both 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 the food we eat, plenty of the fuel we rely on and virtually all the products and goods we tend to take for granted!

Seafarers UK runs annual campaigns to raise awareness of our island nation’s ongoing dependence on professional seafarers, all those men and women who work at sea, wherever they may be on the world’s oceans.

Every year Seafarers UK promotes the Red Ensign, the UK Merchant Navy’s official flag, to be flown on 3rd September on civic buildings and landmark flagpoles. Parish, community, town, city, district and borough councils were all invited to take part, along with higher-tier local authorities and governments.

Across the UK there are many locations where the Red Ensign can be freely flown ashore – civic centres, town halls, public libraries, village greens, churches, sports venues, historic buildings, tourist attractions, ports, etc. In Scotland, Merchant Navy Day is included on the government’s national list of flag-flying days.


A new guide to taking part is available to read online or download. This recognises that public gatherings will not be appropriate this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But highlights the opportunity for Red Ensigns to be proudly flown on civic buildings to show widespread support for all those merchant seafarers on whom the UK depends for the import of food, fuel, medicines and other essential goods.


Last year hundreds of local flag-hoisting ceremonies were organised, involving VIPs, civic dignitaries, Merchant Navy veterans, naval cadets, etc. A message of support from HRH The Earl of Wessex & Forfar was read out at many participating locations ‘to remember the sacrifices, salute the courage and support the future of the often unsung personnel of our Merchant Navy.’

As a result of campaigning by Seafarers UK and the active participation of Merchant Navy Association members and other retired Merchant Navy seamen, a Red Ensign was flown ashore at more than one thousand places around the UK.

Register your participation

To get involved on or around Merchant Navy Day, 3rd September 2020, please complete our online registration form. Note: this is a free service provided by Seafarers UK but donations to the charity’s Merchant Navy Fund are always appreciated.

More information

For further information about our Merchant Navy Day campaign please contact Nick Harvey, email nick.harvey@seafarers.uk, phone 07910 593588.

Will you Fly the Red Ensign on 3 September 2020?

Complete our online registration form to confirm your participation and be featured on the Roll of Honour.

Register