UK Government

Department for Transport (National): Red Ensign marks eleventh Merchant Navy Day

Press Release   •   Sep 03, 2010 13:16 BST

The Red Ensign will fly over the headquarters of the Department for Transport today to mark the UK's eleventh Merchant Navy Day.

Shipping Minister Mike Penning said:

"During the Second World War, the Merchant Navy did a difficult job well, keeping the country supplied with the means to survive. More than 20,000 merchant seafarers lost their lives in that conflict alone. Today gives us the opportunity to pay tribute to them, and to the other men and women of the Merchant Navy who have lost their lives over the years.

"The UK is an island nation with a long maritime tradition, and we continue to rely on shipping for most of our foreign trade. As well as remembering the brave merchant seafarers of the past, Merchant Navy Day also recognises those who work in shipping today.

"The British shipping industry is currently enjoying a revival. The UK shipping register has increased in both numbers of ships and tonnage, while maintaining very high standards, and the numbers of young people choosing the Merchant Navy as a career have also generally increased. We can never be complacent, but the UK maritime sector enjoys an excellent reputation, which I hope will help it go from strength to strength."

Notes to editors

1. The Red Ensign will today fly over the headquarters of the Department for Transport - Great Minster House in Marsham Street, London SW1.

2. Merchant Navy Day has been held on 3 September each year since 2000. It honours the merchant seafarers of the past, and also looks forward to a bright future for British shipping.

3. Since 2004 the UK registered fleet of sizeable trading vessels (500 gross tons and over) has increased from 10,099,000 to 16,863,000 gross tons, an increase of 66.98 per cent.

4. The increase in tonnage on the UK shipping register has been achieved without compromising quality standards. The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) have appointed dedicated Customer Account Managers to assist with enquiries throughout the registration process. This – and removing excess regulation – has made the UK flag more attractive.

5. The tonnage tax was introduced in the Finance Act 2000. Shipping companies can opt into tonnage tax, or stay in the current corporate tax regime. Tonnage tax applies normal corporation tax to notional profits determined by the tonnage of the ships operated. It brings certainty and clarity about tax liabilities and is used by a number of other EEA countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Greece and Norway. The tonnage tax is enabling British shipping to be more internationally competitive.

6. A feature of the UK tonnage tax is the minimum training obligation. This normally requires each shipping company in the tax to recruit and train one officer trainee each year for every 15 officer posts in its fleet, and to give consideration to employment and training opportunities for ratings.

7. The Support for Maritime Training (SMarT) scheme has been running since April 1998 and provides financial support for courses approved by the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB) and the MCA for the training of officers and ratings.

8. The number of new cadets beginning seafarer training and claiming SMarT:

2009/10 was 702 trainees
2008/09 was 961 trainees
2007/08 was 854 trainees
2006/07 was 658 trainees
2005/06 was 562 trainees
2004/05 was 571 trainee
2003/04 was 621 trainees

9. Sea Vision UK is the public awareness campaign to promote the UK’s wider maritime sector to the general public. It was launched to the maritime sector at the Chamber of Shipping in October 2002 and this was followed by a public launch at the London Boat Show on 2 January 2003. The campaign aims to revitalize interest and understanding of the importance of the sea and the maritime sector and specifically to target awareness among the young.


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