THE Red Ensign flag was raised by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and Port of Larne today to mark Merchant Navy Day.
Merchant Navy Day raises awareness of the UK’s ongoing dependence on Merchant Navy seafarers.
Deputy Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim Mr Liam Kelly, Larne Port Interim Harbour Master Richard Hutchinson and Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Councillor Maureen Morrow, were joined by invited guests and members of the public in a short ceremony at Larne Port.
The flag was also flown at Mid and East Antrim Borough 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 UK Merchant Navy’s official flag to be flown on public buildings and landmark flagpoles.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor, Maureen 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.
Deputy Mayor and Veterans Champion of Mid and East Antrim, Beth Adger, added: “We are delighted to be part of this ceremony to Fly the Red Ensign and show our support for the Merchant Navy Day.
“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. The UK 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 3 September, 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. www.merchantnavyfund.org/merchant-navy-day