Merchant Navy (United Kingdom)

The Merchant Navy is the maritime register of the United Kingdom, and comprises the seagoing commercial interests of UK-registered ships and their crews. Merchant Navy vessels fly the Red Ensign and are regulated by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). King George V bestowed the title of "Merchant Navy" on the British merchant shipping fleets following their service in the First World War;[1] a number of other nations have since adopted the title.

British Merchant Navy
Scillonian III
Scillonian III, as seen from the air, halfway between St Mary's and Penzance
Country United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories and Channel Islands
Size10th Largest;
  • 30 Million Gross Registered Tonnage
  • 40.7 Million Deadweight Tonnage
  • Cargo
  • Cruise
  • Civilian/Pleasure
Red Ensign
Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom
Civil Jack
Civil Jack of the United Kingdom


The Merchant Navy has been in existence for a significant period in British history, owing much of its growth to British imperial expansion. It can be dated back to the 17th century, where an attempt was made to register all seafarers as a source of labour for the Royal Navy in times of conflict.[2] That registration of merchant seafarers failed, and it was not successfully implemented until 1835. The merchant fleet grew over successive years to become the world's foremost merchant fleet, benefiting considerably from trade with British possessions in India and the Far East. The lucrative trade in sugar, contraband (opium to China), spices and tea (carried by ships such as the Cutty Sark) helped to solidify this dominance in the 19th century.

In the First and Second World Wars, the merchant service suffered heavy losses from German U-boat attacks. A policy of unrestricted warfare meant that merchant seafarers were at risk of attack from enemy ships. The tonnage lost to U-boats in the First World War was around 7,759,090 tons,[3] and around 14,661 merchant seafarers were killed. In honour of the sacrifice made by merchant seafarers in the First World War, George V granted the title "Merchant Navy" to the companies.

Badge of British Merchant Navy
Badge of the British Merchant Navy

In 1928 George V made Edward, Prince of Wales "Master of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets";[4] a title he retained after his accession in January 1936 and relinquished only at his abdication that December. Since Edward VIII the title has automatically been held by the sovereigns George VI and Elizabeth II.[5] When the UK entered the Second World War in September 1939 George VI issued this message:

INF3-127 War Effort Under the Red Duster they sustain our Island Fortress
Second World War poster highlighting wartime dangers that the Merchant Navy faced

In these anxious days I would like to express to all Officers and Men and in The British Merchant Navy and The British Fishing Fleets my confidence in their unfailing determination to play their vital part in defence. To each one I would say: Yours is a task no less essential to my people's experience than that allotted to the Navy, Army and Air Force. Upon you the Nation depends for much of its foodstuffs and raw materials and for the transport of its troops overseas. You have a long and glorious history, and I am proud to bear the title "Master of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets". I know that you will carry out your duties with resolution and with fortitude, and that high chivalrous traditions of your calling are safe in your hands. God keep you and prosper you in your great task.[6]

In the Second World War, German U-boats sank nearly 14.7 million tons of Allied shipping,[7] which amounted to 2,828 ships (around two thirds of the total allied tonnage lost). The United Kingdom alone suffered the loss of 11.7 million tons, which was 54% of the total Merchant Navy fleet at the outbreak of the Second World War. 32,000 merchant seafarers were killed aboard convoy vessels in the war, but along with the Royal Navy, the convoys successfully imported enough supplies to allow an Allied victory.

In honour of the sacrifices made in the two World Wars, the Merchant Navy lays wreaths of remembrance alongside the armed forces in the annual Remembrance Day service on 11 November. Following many years of lobbying to bring about official recognition of the sacrifices made by merchant seafarers in two world wars and since, Merchant Navy Day became an official day of remembrance on 3 September 2000.


RN rank Deck Department Engine Room Department Catering Department
Commander Master (over 10,000 tons) Chief Engineer (over 10,000 tons)
Lieutenant-Commander Master (2,501-10,000 tons or up to 2,500 tons if home trade passenger ship of speed 15 knots or more or cable ship)
First Mate (over 10,000 tons)
Surgeon (over 10,000 tons)
Chief Engineer (2,501-10,000 tons or up to 2,500 tons if home trade passenger ship of speed 15 knots or more)
Certificated Second Engineer (over 10,000 tons)
Purser (Naval Auxiliary; over 10,000 tons or 2,501-10,000 tons if at least two assistant pursers carried)
Lieutenant Master (up to 2,500 tons unless home trade passenger ship of speed 15 knots or more or cable ship or home trade cargo ship up to 1,000 tons)
First Mate (2,501-10,000 tons or up to 2,500 tons if home trade passenger ship of speed 15 knots or more or cable ship or Naval Auxiliary holding Master's Certificate)
Certificated Second Mate (over 10,000 tons or Naval Auxiliary over 30 holding Master's Certificate)
Certificated Third Mate (Naval Auxiliary; over 10,000 tons holding Master's Certificate)
Surgeon (up to 10,000 tons)
Chief Engineer (up to 2,500 tons unless home trade passenger ship of speed 15 knots or more or home trade cargo ship up to 1,000 tons)
Certificated Second Engineer (2,501-10,000 tons or up to 2,500 tons if home trade passenger ship of speed 15 knots or more or cable ship)
Certificated Third Engineer (over 10,000 tons)
Certificated Chief Refrigerating Engineer (holding 1st Class Certificate)
Chief (or only) Electrician (cable ship or if 4 or more electricians carried)
Purser (over 10,000 tons or Naval Auxiliary 2,501-10,000 tons if at least one assistant purser carried)
Senior Assistant Purser (Naval Auxiliary; over 10,000 tons or 2,501-10,000 tons if 3 or more pursers carried)
Sub-Lieutenant Certificated Master (home trade cargo ship up to 1,000 tons)
First Mate (up to 2,500 tons unless home trade passenger ship of speed 15 knots or more or cable ship or home trade cargo ship up to 1,000 tons)
Certificated Second Mate (up to 10,000 tons unless home trade cargo ship up to 1,000 tons)
Certificated Third Mate (except home trade cargo ship up to 1,000 tons)
Certificated Junior Mate (except home trade cargo ship up to 1,000 tons)
Radio Officer or Wireless Telegraphist (3 or more years' service)
Certificated Chief Engineer (home trade cargo ship up to 1,000 tons)
Chief Engineer (Naval Auxiliary; commissioned rescue tug if not holding First Engineer's Certificate)
Certificated Second Engineer (up to 2,500 tons unless home trade passenger ship of speed 15 knots or more or cable ship or home trade cargo ship up to 1,000 tons)
Certificated Third Engineer (up to 10,000 tons unless home trade cargo ship up to 1,000 tons)
Certificated Fourth Engineer (except home trade cargo ship up to 1,000 tons)
Certificated Junior Engineer (except home trade cargo ship up to 1,000 tons)
Certificated Chief Refrigerating Engineer (holding 2nd Class Certificate)
Certificated Refrigerating Engineer
Chief Electrician (except cable ship)
Second Electrician (Naval Auxiliary; ship carrying 4 or more electricians)
Electrician (cable ship also carrying Chief Electrician)
Certificated Boilermaker (Naval Auxiliary; 8,000 tons or over)

Purser (2,501-10,000 tons)
Purser (Naval Auxiliary; up to 2,500 tons)
Assistant Purser (Naval Auxiliary; 2,501-10,000 tons if only two pursers carried)
Senior Assistant Purser (Naval Auxiliary; up to 2,500 tons)
Junior Assistant Purser (Naval Auxiliary)
Chief Steward (passenger ship over 10,000 tons or passenger ship 2,501-10,000 tons if no Purser carried)

Acting Sub-Lieutenant Uncertificated Mate (Naval Auxiliary) Uncertificated Engineer (Naval Auxiliary)
Uncertificated Refrigerating Engineer (Naval Auxiliary)
Chief (or only) Electrician (Naval Auxiliary; if only 1 or 2 electricians carried)
Second Electrician (Naval Auxiliary; if up to 3 electricians carried)
Electrician (Naval Auxiliary)
Certificated Boilermaker (Naval Auxiliary; below 8,000 tons)
Warrant Officer Uncertificated Master (home trade cargo ship up to 500 tons)
Uncertificated Mate (except home trade cargo ship up to 500 tons)
Mate (home trade cargo ship 501-1,000 tons)
Radio Officer or Wireless Telegraphist (1–3 years' service or Naval Auxiliary less than 3 years' service)
Cable Foreman (cable ship)
Uncertificated Chief Engineer (home trade cargo ship up to 1,000 tons)
Uncertificated Engineer (except home trade cargo ship up to 500 tons)
Engineer (home trade cargo ship 501-1,000 tons)
Senior Boilermaker
Electrician (except cable ship)
Purser (up to 2,500 tons)
Assistant Purser
Chief Steward (passenger ship 2,501-10,000 tons if Purser also carried or passenger ship up to 2,500 tons or cable ship or Naval Auxiliary cargo ship over 10,000 tons)
Midshipman Deck Apprentice or Cadet (Naval Auxiliary; 3 or more years' service)
Radio Cadet (Naval Auxiliary; over 1 year's service)
Engineering Apprentice or Cadet (Naval Auxiliary; 3 or more years' service)
Cadet Deck Apprentice or Cadet (Naval Auxiliary; less than 3 years' service)
Radio Cadet (Naval Auxiliary; up to 1 year's service)
Engineering Apprentice or Cadet (Naval Auxiliary; less than 3 years' service)
Chief Petty Officer Mate (home trade cargo ship up to 500 tons)
Radio Officer or Wireless Telegraphist (less than 1 year's service)
Deck Apprentice or Cadet
Radio Cadet
Cable Jointer (cable ship)
Assistant Cable Foreman (cable ship)
Engineer (home trade cargo ship up to 500 tons)
Uncertificated Boilermaker (Naval Auxiliary)
Sanitary Engineer
Engineering Apprentice or Cadet
Chief Fireman or Stoker
Chief Steward (cargo ship)
Chief Cook
Petty Officer Boatswain's Mate
Carpenter's Mate
Chief Quartermaster
Hospital Attendant
Engineroom Storekeeper
Engineroom Winchman
First Leading Fireman
Leading Hand Diesel
Electrical Assistant
Second Steward
Senior Steward
Saloon Steward
Ship's Cook
Officers' Cook
First Writer
Head Waiter
Catering Storekeeper 1st Class
Leading Seaman Craneman
Lamp Trimmer
Leading Seaman
Deck Storekeeper
Deck Winchman
Seaman Cable Jointer (cable ship)
Cable Engine Driver (cable ship)
Leading Fireman or Stoker
Assistant Engineroom Storekeeper
Second Cook (and Baker)
Catering Storekeeper
Leading Steward
Second Writer
Able Seaman Able Seaman
Ordinary Seaman
Seaman Cable Hand (cable ship)
Fireman or Stoker
Cleaner and Wiper
Assistant Catering Storekeeper
Second Baker
Assistant Baker
Assistant Butcher
Assistant Cook
Assistant Pantryman
Assistant Steward
Boy Steward



Ensigns are displayed at the stern of the vessel or displayed on the gaff, on a yardarm. Red Ensigns can be defaced, those can only be flown with a warrant onboard the vessel.

British Overseas Territories Ensigns

Yacht Club Ensigns

Ensign of the House of Commons Yacht Club

House of Commons Yacht Club

Ensign of the St Helier Yacht Club

St Helier Yacht Club

HDC Original defaced Red Ensign

Hamilton Dinghy Club

Red Ensign defaced with crown

Royal Portsmouth Corinthian Yacht Club, the Royal St George Yacht Club and the Royal Victoria Yacht Club

RHADC defaced Red Ensign

Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club

House Flags

House Flags are personal and designed by a company. It is displayed on a port halyard of a Yardarm

House flags 1900
House flags of the early 20th century

Merchant Navy today

Despite maintaining its dominant position for many decades, the decline of the British Empire, the rise of the use of the flag of convenience, and foreign competition led to the decline of the merchant fleet. For example, in 1939 the Merchant Navy was the largest in the world with 33% of total tonnage.[8] By 2012, the Merchant Navy — yet still remaining one of the largest in the world — held only 3% of total tonnage.[9]

In 2010 the Merchant Navy consisted of 504 UK registered ships of 1,000 gross tonnage (GT) or over. In addition, UK merchant marine interests possessed a further 308 ships registered in other countries and 271 foreign-owned ships were registered in the UK.[10]

In 2012 British merchant marine interests consisted of 1,504 ships of 100 GRT or over. This included ships either directly UK-owned, parent-owned or managed by a British company. This amounted to: 59,413,000 GT or alternatively 75,265,000 DWT.[9] This is according to the annual maritime shipping statistics provided by the British Government and the Department for Transport.

Warsash Deck 2011
An example of Merchant Navy Officers, graduating at their 'passing out' ceremony from Warsash Maritime Academy in Southampton, with Former First Sea Lord Alan West, Baron West of Spithead, in 2011.

As a signatory to the STCW Convention UK ships are commanded by Deck Officers and Engineering Officers.[11] Officers undergo 3 years of training, known as a cadetship at one of the approved maritime colleges in the United Kingdom. These include Warsash Maritime Academy, South Tyneside College, Fleetwood, Plymouth University and City of Glasgow College.[12] Cadets usually have a choice of two academic routes; Foundation Degree or Higher National Diploma.[11] Successful completion of this results in a qualification in marine operations or marine engineering. Generally the costs of a cadetship will be met by sponsorship from a UK shipping company.[13] During the three years of training, cadets also go to sea, for a period of a year or more, usually spread across the cadetship. This affords a practical education, that along with the academic time in college prepares a candidate for a separate and final oral exam. This oral exam is carried out with a Master Mariner at an office of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Successful completion of the oral exam will result in the award of a certificate of competency. This is the international qualification, issued by the UK government which allows an Officer to work in their qualified capacity onboard a ship. Certificates are issued for different ranks and as such an Officer will usually return to complete a subsequent series of studies until they reach the highest qualification.

The first UK Deck Officer certificates of competency were issued in 1845, conducted then, as now, by a final oral exam with a Master Mariner.[14] The training regime for Officers is set out in the official syllabus of the Merchant Navy Training Board.[15] This training still encompasses all of the traditional trades such as celestial navigation, ship stability, general cargo and seamanship, but now includes training in business, legislation, law, and computerisation for deck officers and marine engineering principles, workshop technology, steam propulsion, motor (diesel) propulsion, auxiliaries, mechanics, thermodynamics, engineering drawing, ship construction, marine electrics as well as practical workshop training for engineering officers.

Historically a person wishing to become a captain, or master prior to about 1973, had five choices: to attend one of the three elite naval schools from the age of 12, the fixed-base HMS Conway and HMS Worcester or Pangbourne Nautical College, which would automatically lead to an apprenticeship as a seagoing cadet officer; apply to one of several training programmes elsewhere; or go to sea immediately by applying directly to a merchant shipping company at about age 17. Then there would be three years (with prior training or four years without) of seagoing experience aboard ship, in work-clothes and as mates with the deck crew, under the direction of the bo'sun cleaning bilges, chipping paint, polishing brass, cement washing freshwater tanks, and holystoning teak decks, and studying navigation and seamanship on the bridge in uniform, under the direction of an officer, before taking exams to become a second mate.

Historically, the composition of the crew on UK ships was diverse. This was a characteristic of the extant of the shipping companies trade, the extent of the British Empire and the availability of crew in different ports. One ship might have a largely all British crew, while another might have a crew composed of many Indians, Chinese or African sailors. Crews from outside Britain were usually drawn from areas in which the ship traded, so Far East trading ships had either Singapore or Hong Kong crews, banana boats had West Indian crews, ships trading to West Africa and Southern Africa had African crews and ships trading to the Indian Ocean (including East Africa) had crews from the Indian subcontinent. Crews made up of recruits from Britain itself were commonly used on ships trading across the North Atlantic, to South America and to Australia and New Zealand. Traditionally and still now, the ships crew is run by the Bosun, as overseen by a responsible Deck Officer, usually the Chief Mate. A ship may also have different sub-departments, such as the galley, radio department or hospitality services, overseen by a Chief Cook, Radio Officer or Chief Steward. Many of these roles have now changed, as ships crews have become smaller in commercial shipping. On most ships the Radio department has disappeared, along with the Radio Officer (colloquially known as 'sparks') replaced by changes in technology and the requirement under the STCW Convention for Deck Officers to hold individual certification in the GMDSS System. Electro-technical Officers (ETO) also serve aboard some ships and are trained to fix and maintain the more complex systems.

Notable people

Captain Matthew Webb
Captain Matthew Webb, a Captain and cross channel swimmer.
Joseph Conrad
Joseph Conrad, a Captain and author.

A number of notable Merchant Navy personnel include:

Medals and awards

Minnie's authority to wear medals cert
Authority to wear the British War Medal (and ribbon) and the Mercantile Marine Medal (and clasp, ribbon) issued to Minnie Mason for her work on English Channel ferries throughout World War I

Members of the UK Merchant Navy have been awarded the Victoria Cross, George Cross, George Medal, Distinguished Service Order, and Distinguished Service Cross for their actions while serving in the Merchant Navy. Canadian Philip Bent, ex-British Merchant Navy, joined the British Army at the outbreak of World War I and won the Victoria Cross. Members of the Merchant Navy who served in either World War also received relevant campaign medals.

In the Second World War many Merchant Navy members received the King's Commendation for Brave Conduct. Lloyd's of London awarded the Lloyd's War Medal for Bravery at Sea to 541 Merchant Navy personnel for their bravery in 1939–45.[16][17] Many Royal Humane Society medals and awards have been conferred on Merchant Navy seafarers for acts of humanity in both war and peacetime.

In September 2016 the UK Government introduced the Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service.[18] The medal is awarded:

"to those who are serving or have served in the Merchant Navy and fishing fleets of the UK, Isle of Man or Channel Islands for exemplary service and devotion to duty, rewarding those who have set an outstanding example to others."[18]

It is the first state award for meritorious service in the history of the Merchant Navy.[19] Recipients must be nominated by someone other than themselves, with at least two written letters of support and are normally required to have completed 20 years service in the Merchant Navy (although in exceptional circumstances it may less).[20]

British shipping companies

The British Merchant Navy consists of various private shipping companies. Over the decades many companies have come and gone, merged, changed their name or changed owners. British Shipping is represented nationally and globally by the UK Chamber of Shipping, headquartered in London.[21]

Monks Ferry Drydock, Birkenhead - - 198146
The Bibby Sapphire is a diving support vessel built in 2005 for the operational shipping company Bibby Line.
British Emperor 1916
The British Emperor, launched in 1916 was a ship of the British Tanker Company that was sunk in 1941.
Queen Mary New York
Queen Mary of 1936 (80,700 GRT) was a ship of the Cunard Line.

Below is a list of some of the British shipping companies, past and present:

British Shipping Companies
Aberdeen Line
American and Indian Line; Bucknall Steamship Lines
Anchor Line
Australind Steam Navigation Company
Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company (Shell Tankers), now Royal Dutch Shell
Atlantic Steam Navigation Company
Bank Line
Ben Line
Bibby Line
Blue Anchor Line
Blue Funnel Line (Alfred Holt)
Blue Star Line
Booth Steamship Company
Bolton Steam Shipping Co. Ltd.
Bowker and King
British and African Steam Navigation Company
British and Burmese Steam Navigation Company
British India Steam Navigation Company
British Tanker Company
Thos & Jno Brocklebank Ltd
Bullard, King and Company, including Natal Direct Line
Burns and Laird Lines
Byron Marine Ltd
Cairns, Noble and Company
Caledonian MacBrayne, formerly Caledonian Steam Packet Company and David MacBrayne
Carisbrooke Shipping
P & A Campbell
The China Navigation Company
Clan Line
Clyde Shipping Company
Coast Lines
William Cory and Son
Counties Ship Management
Crescent Shipping
Cunard Line
*Currie Line – Leith
Denholm Line Steamers
Donaldson Line
Donaldson Atlantic Line
Dundee, Perth and London Shipping Company
Eagle Oil and Shipping Company
Elder Dempster Lines, including Glen Line and Shire Line
Ellerman Lines, including many companies taken over
Evan Thomas Radcliffe
Federal Steam Navigation Company
Fisher, Renwick Manchester – London Steamers
Fletcher Shipping Ltd.
Furness Withy
Fyffes Line
GATX-Owego Steam Navigation Company
General Steam Navigation Company
Global Marine Systems, previously Cable & Wireless Marine and British Telecom Marine
Harrison Line (T&J Harrison)
Harrison Clyde Ltd Woodside Crescent Glasgow
Head Line Ulster Steamship Co. Ltd. – Belfast
P Henderson and Company
JP Henry and MacGregor – Leith
Houlder Brothers and Company (Houlder Line)
RP Houston and Company (Houston Line)
Indo-China Steam Navigation Company Ltd.
Isle of Man Steam Packet Company
Isles of Scilly Steamship Company
Lamport and Holt
Leyland Line
London & Overseas Freighters
Loch Line
Manchester Liners
Mississippi and Dominion Steamship Company (Dominion Line)
North of Scotland and Orkney and Shetland Steam Navigation Company
North Star Shipping
Ocean Steam Navigation Company (White Star Line)
Orient Steam Navigation Company (Anderson, Green and Company)
Palm Line
Pacific Steam Navigation Company
Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O)
Port Line, formerly the Commonwealth and Dominion Line
Prince Line
Reardon Smith
Red Funnel Line
Ropner Shipping Company
Royal Mail Steam Packet Company
Sealink, its immediate predecessors the Great Western Railway, LMS, LNER, Southern Railway and many of their antecedents
Scottish Shire Line
Shaw, Savill & Albion Line
Shell International Shipping Services
Silver Line
Stag Line
Star Line
Stephenson Clarke Shipping
Townsend Brothers Ferries, later Townsend Thoresen
Tyne-Tees Steam Shipping Company
Union-Castle Line
United Africa Company
United Baltic Corporation
Wandsworth and District Gas Company
Andrew Weir and Company
Wilson Line
Yeoward Line

See also


  1. ^ "Merchant Navy Day, the fourth service remembered". 3 September 2016. Retrieved 23 March 2017. In 1928 King George V announced that, in recognition of its service and sacrifice, it would henceforth be known as the Merchant Navy
  2. ^ National Archives of the United Kingdom
  3. ^ Merchant Navy Memorial website Archived 6 September 2012 at
  4. ^ Hope 1990, p. 356.
  5. ^ "Chamber of Shipping celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of HM the Queen: Master of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets". News. UK Chamber of Shipping. 1 June 2012. Archived from the original on 20 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  6. ^ Bax, John; Robins, Terry. "Part Six". Clan Line. Merchant Navy Officers. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  7. ^ Friel 2003, pp. 245–250.
  8. ^ "Fact File : Merchant Navy". BBC. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  9. ^ a b "Shipping Fleet: 2012" (PDF). HM Government. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  10. ^ "Merchant Marine: United Kingdom". CIA World Fact Book. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  11. ^ a b "UK seafarer careers: training provision, information and examination syllabuses". Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  12. ^ "Study". Careers at Sea. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  13. ^ "Sponsorship". Careers at Sea. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  14. ^ Maclachlan, Malcolm (2016). The Shipmaster's Business Self-Examiner. The Nautical Institute. p. 3.
  15. ^ "UK Government – Seafarer Training" (PDF). Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  16. ^ de Neumann, Bernard (19 January 2006). "Lloyd's War Medal for Bravery at Sea (Part One)". WW2 People's War. BBC. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  17. ^ de Neumann, Bernard (19 January 2006). "Lloyd's War Medal for Bravery at Sea (Part Two)". WW2 People's War. BBC. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  18. ^ a b "Meritorious service rewarded with new Merchant Navy medal". UK Government. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  19. ^ Goodwill, Robert (26 November 2016). "New state award for a Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service". GOV.UK. UK Government Digital Service. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  20. ^ "Merchant Navy Medal Guidance" (PDF). UK Government. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  21. ^ "UK Chamber of Shipping – About". Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  22. ^ "Anchor-Donaldson". Retrieved 6 October 2017.


  • Blackmore, Edward (1897). The British Mercantile Marine. London: Charles Griffin and Company, Limited. Retrieved 29 May 2007.
  • Encyclopædia Britannica (1911). "Shipping". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 24 (11th ed.). Retrieved 17 April 2007.
  • Friel, Ian (2003). Maritime History of Britain and Ireland. London: The British Museum Press. ISBN 0-7141-2718-3.
  • Hope, Ronald (1990). A New History of British Shipping. London: John Murray. ISBN 0-7195-4799-7.
  • Hope, Ronald (2001). Poor Jack: The Perilous History of the Merchant Seaman. London: Greenhill Books. ISBN 1-86176-161-9.
  • Mission to Seafarers. "Mission to Seafarers Timeline Alongside World Events". Mission to Seafarers. Archived from the original on 16 September 2007. Retrieved 2 April 2007.
  • Thompson, Captain Barry (2008). All Hands and the Cook: The Customs and Language of the British Merchant Seaman 1875–1975. Takapuna, NZ: Bush Press on behalf of the author. ISBN 9780908608720.

External links


Educational and professional


A boatswain ( BOH-sən, formerly and dialectally also BOHT-swayn), bo's'n, bos'n, or bosun, also known as a Petty Officer or a qualified member of the deck department, is the seniormost rate of the deck department and is responsible for the components of a ship's hull. The boatswain supervises the other members of the ship's deck department, and typically is not a watchstander, except on vessels with small crews. Additional duties vary depending upon ship, crew, and circumstances.

CP Ships

CP Ships was a large Canadian shipping company established in the 19th century. From the late 1880s until after World War II, the company was Canada's largest operator of Atlantic and Pacific steamships. Many immigrants travelled on CP ships from Europe to Canada. The sinking of the steamship RMS Empress of Ireland during World War I was the largest maritime disaster in Canadian history. The company provided Canadian Merchant Navy vessels in World Wars I and II. Twelve vessels were lost due to enemy action in World War II including the largest ship sunk by a German U-boat, RMS Empress of Britain.

The company moved to a model of container shipping from passenger, freight and mail service in the 1960s due to competitive pressure from the airline industry. The company was a part of the Canadian Pacific Ltd. conglomerate. It was spun out as a separate company in 2001. In 2005, it was purchased by TUI AG and is now part of the company's Hapag-Lloyd division.

The Atlantic and Pacific passenger liners of Canadian Pacific were always British-flagged and largely British-manned and were not part of the Canadian Merchant Marine, ownership being with the British-registered Canadian Pacific Steamships Ltd. subsidiary.

Cargo ship

A cargo ship or freighter ship is a merchant ship that carries cargo, goods, and materials from one port to another. Thousands of cargo carriers ply the world's seas and oceans each year, handling the bulk of international trade. Cargo ships are usually specially designed for the task, often being equipped with cranes and other mechanisms to load and unload, and come in all sizes. Today, they are almost always built by welded steel, and with some exceptions generally have a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years before being scrapped.

List of merchant navy capacity by country

List of merchant navy capacity by flag is a list of the world foremost fleets of registered trading vessels ranked in both gross tonnage (GT) and deadweight tonnage (DWT) sorted by flag state. The table is based on the annual maritime shipping statistics provided by the British Government and the Department for Transport. It is complete and correct for the year ending 2012. Statistics are published on an annual basis every September.

While countries such as Panama may appear to possess a large merchant navy, this is a result of much of it being managed by foreign overseas companies (such as those based in the United States). This is known as flag of convenience.

For example, although the United Kingdom's merchant navy totals 30.0 million GT and 40.7 million DWT in shipping, actual UK merchant navy interests worldwide consists of 59.4 million GT and 75.2 million DWT in shipping. This largely includes the merchant navies of British Overseas Territories and UK merchant navy interests in former colonies.

List of notable surviving veterans of World War II

This is a list of notable surviving veterans of World War II (1939–1945).

Lists of ships

This is a list of the lists of ships on Wikipedia - a meta-list. It is not intended to hold details of any individual ship within this meta-list.

MV Maersk Rapier

MV Maersk Rapier is a commercial product tanker owned by the A.P. Moller–Maersk Group and chartered to the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence (MoD). The vessel serves as the primary strategic link for the collection and transportation of purchased fuel from oil refineries to British and NATO fuel depots.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is an executive agency of the United Kingdom working to prevent the loss of lives at sea and is responsible for implementing British and international maritime law and safety policy. It is also responsible for land based search and rescue helicopter operations from 2015.Its responsibilities include coordinating search and rescue (SAR) on the coastline and at sea through Her Majesty's Coastguard (HMCG), ensuring that ships meet international and UK safety standards, monitoring and preventing coastal water pollution and testing and issuing Merchant Navy Certificates of Competency (licences) for ships' officers and crew to STCW requirements. The organisation is led by Brian Johnson The MCA are chiefly responsible for the syllabus and national training standards issued by the Merchant Navy Training Board (based at the UK Chamber of Shipping).The MCA has three distinct "outward facing" elements - provision of search and rescue and prevention activity through Her Majesty's Coastguard, port and flag state control of shipping through a network of Marine Offices and the development of international standards and policy for shipping through the International Maritime Organization.

The MCA has now established an automatic identification system (AIS) network around the UK coast, for real-time tracking and monitoring of shipping movements from the shore.

Its motto is "Safer Lives, Safer Ships, Cleaner Seas".

Michael Fitzgerald Page

Michael Fitzgerald Page (AM) (born 2 February 1922) is a British-born Australian writer, editor, advertising executive, world war two veteran and merchant sailor. For his "services to the book publishing industry and to literature as a writer, and through the encouragement and support of upcoming Australian authors" he was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1999.

Ratings in the Merchant Navy (United Kingdom)

The following equivalent ratings in the Merchant Navy were those officially recognised by the National Maritime Board for British Merchant Navy ocean-going cargo vessels carrying up to six passengers in 1919, 1943, and 1964. They are listed in ascending order of seniority.

"Mixed" crew refers to crews that consisted of both white and non-white (African or Asian) members, as was common on British-registered ships, which often had white officers and (sometimes) petty officers, and non-white crew. These tables would probably only have related to white ratings. However, for these purposes, non-white ratings of European, American, or West Indian origin would probably have been considered "white".

Royal Fleet Auxiliary

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) is a naval auxiliary fleet owned by the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence and is one of the five fighting arms of the Royal Navy. Its purpose is to support the Royal Navy to maintain operations around the world. Its primary role is to supply the Royal Navy with fuel, ammunition and supplies, normally by replenishment at sea (RAS). It also transports Army and Royal Marine personnel, as well as supporting training exercises, and engaging in anti-piracy, anti-drug smuggling, and humanitarian operations.

The RFA counts an Aviation Training ship/Hospital Ship and landing vessels amongst its assets. RFA personnel are employees of the Ministry of Defence, and since 2003, special members of the Royal Naval Reserve deemed sponsored reserves, which are civilians who must be part of the Armed Forces in some capacity, in order to carry out specialist civilian jobs in a military capacity. Although RFA officers wear Merchant Navy rank insignia with naval uniforms, they are classed as a part of the naval service and are under naval discipline when the vessel is engaged on warlike operations. RFA vessels are commanded and crewed by these officers and ratings, augmented with regular and reserve Royal Navy personnel to perform specialised military functions such as operating and maintaining helicopters or providing hospital facilities. Royal Navy personnel are also needed to operate certain weapons, such as the Phalanx, however other weapons (such as the GPMG, Oerlikon 20 mm cannon, 30mm cannon and the 7.62 minigun) are operated by RFA personnel.


September is the ninth month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars, the third of four months to have a length of 30 days, and the fourth of five months to have a length of less than 31 days. In the Northern Hemisphere September is the seasonal equivalent of March in the Southern Hemisphere.

In the Northern hemisphere, the beginning of the meteorological autumn is on 1 September. In the Southern hemisphere, the beginning of the meteorological spring is on 1 September. 

September marks the beginning of the ecclesiastical year in the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is the start of the academic year in many countries, in which children go back to school after the summer break, sometimes on the first day of the month.

September (from Latin septem, "seven") was originally the seventh of ten months on the oldest known Roman calendar, with March (Latin Martius) the first month of the year until perhaps as late as 153 BC. After the calendar reform that added January and February to the beginning of the year, September became the ninth month, but retained its name. It had 29 days until the Julian reform, which added a day.

Ancient Roman observances for September include Ludi Romani, originally celebrated from September 12 to September 14, later extended to September 5 to September 19. In the 1st century BC, an extra day was added in honor of the deified Julius Caesar on 4 September. Epulum Jovis was held on September 13. Ludi Triumphales was held from September 18–22. The Septimontium was celebrated in September, and on December 11 on later calendars. These dates do not correspond to the modern Gregorian calendar. In 1752, the British Empire adopted the Gregorian calendar. In the British Empire that year, September 2 was immediately followed by September 14.

September was called "harvest month" in Charlemagne's calendar. September corresponds partly to the Fructidor and partly to the Vendémiaire of the first French republic.

On Usenet, it is said that September 1993 (Eternal September) never ended. September is called Herbstmonat, harvest month, in Switzerland. The Anglo-Saxons called the month Gerstmonath, barley month, that crop being then usually harvested.

Standing Royal Navy deployments

Standing Royal Navy deployments is a list of operations and commitments undertaken by the United Kingdom's Royal Navy on a worldwide basis. The following list details these commitments and deployments sorted by region and in alphabetical order. Routine deployments made by the Navy's nuclear-powered submarines and their location of operations is classified.

USS Mercury (AK-42)

USS Mercury (AK-42) was a cargo ship commissioned by the U.S. Navy for service in World War II. She was responsible for delivering necessary goods and equipment to ships and stations in the war zone.

United States Merchant Marine

The United States Merchant Marine refers to either United States civilian mariners, or to U.S. civilian and federally owned merchant vessels. Both the civilian mariners and the merchant vessels are managed by a combination of the government and private sectors, and engage in commerce or transportation of goods and services in and out of the navigable waters of the United States. The Merchant Marine primarily transports cargo and passengers during peacetime; in times of war, the Merchant Marine can be an auxiliary to the United States Navy, and can be called upon to deliver military personnel and materiel for the military. Merchant Marine officers may also be commissioned as military officers by the Department of Defense. This is commonly achieved by commissioning unlimited tonnage Merchant Marine officers as Strategic Sealift Officers in the Naval Reserves.Merchant mariners move cargo and passengers between nations and within the United States, and operate and maintain deep-sea merchant ships, tugboats, towboats, ferries, dredges, excursion vessels, charter boats and other waterborne craft on the oceans, the Great Lakes, rivers, canals, harbors, and other waterways.As of October 1, 2018, the United States merchant fleet had 181 privately owned, oceangoing, self-propelled vessels of 1,000 gross register tons and above that carry cargo from port to port. Nearly 800 American-owned ships are flagged in other nations.The federal government maintains fleets of merchant ships via organizations such as Military Sealift Command (part of the US Navy) and the National Defense Reserve Fleet, which is managed by the United States Maritime Administration. In 2004, the federal government employed approximately 5% of all American water transportation workers.In the 19th and 20th centuries, various laws fundamentally changed the course of American merchant shipping. These laws put an end to common practices such as flogging and shanghaiing, and increased shipboard safety and living standards. The United States Merchant Marine is also governed by more than 25 (as of February 17, 2017) international conventions to promote safety and prevent pollution.P.L. 95–202, approved November 23, 1977, granted veteran status to Women Airforce Service Pilots and "any person in any other similarly situated group" with jurisdiction for determination given to the Secretary of Defense who delegated that determination to the Secretary of the Air Force. Although the Merchant Marine suffered a per capita casualty rate greater than those of the US Armed Forces, merchant mariners who served in World War II were denied such veterans recognition until 1988 when a federal court ordered it. The Court held that "the Secretary of the Air Force abused its discretion in denying active military service recognition to American merchant seamen who participated in World War II."

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