As the UK prepares to observe Merchant Navy Day, the Royal Merchant Navy Education Foundation (RMNEF) has issued a serious warning to the British public that the Merchant Navy and its people are in danger of being neglected, forgotten and unappreciated in the 21st century.
Drawing the country’s attention to this, the RMNEF is releasing The Bridge Report which seeks to remind people of the fundamental role the Merchant Navy has played in British history, and will continue to play long into the future.
The report, which includes a foreword from Her Majesty The Queen – patron of the charity – also uncovers the issues facing Merchant Navy crew members and their families and raises awareness of the support available.
Merchant shipping plays a critical role in British society and culture, with 30,000 current serving members, 154,000 former serving members and over 1,300 ships on the UK Ship Register.
The Merchant Navy has also been critical for supporting the transportation of global trade, which currently accounts for 90%.
By publishing The Bridge Report, the RMNEF is seeking to reconnect the Merchant Navy with the British public which it serves, while simultaneously highlighting the broad range of implications that affect current members, their families and loved ones.
Charles Heron-Watson, CEO of RMNEF, said: “The Merchant Navy and its people have driven UK trade and prosperity for centuries, playing a particularly important role in supporting the military to win two World Wars. Yet in 2015, many people remain unaware of this, with some not even understanding what the Merchant Navy is.
“This is why it’s so important to use Merchant Navy Day as an opportunity to bring the interests of those serving, along with their families, to the forefront of industry conversations, in order to better identify and subsequently support those that need it most.”
Fact File: Using the sentiment of ‘Education is the Foundation’, the RMNEF provides a wide range of financial and tangible benefits for seafaring families, including contributions towards school or university fees, living expenses, educational books, visits or equipment, school uniform costs – even laptops and internet access.