Merchant Navy Day 2023

From Port of Jersey
31st August 2023

Ports of Jersey will be marking Merchant Navy Day on Sunday 3 September, by flying the Red Ensign.

King George V bestowed the title of Merchant Navy on British merchant seafarers in recognition of their sacrifice during World War I. They are often regarded as the forgotten and invisible navy community. Modern-day merchant seafarers are responsible for the importation of food and other essential goods. On this annual celebration, the Red Ensign is flown to honour the service of the men and women of the Merchant Navy.

Ports of Jersey’s Coastguard Watch Officer, William Jackson, joined the Merchant Navy straight from school, starting as a Deck Officer and progressing from an Officer of the Watch, to serving as Chief Officer onboard a variety of Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships. William credits his career with giving him the opportunity to visit fantastic places around the world and working with amazing characters who taught him a great deal.

When asked why we should mark Merchant Navy Day, William said, “The Merchant Navy’s contribution during historic times of conflict is well documented and enshrined in history. Today, those supply lines are still vital, with over 90% of the world’s goods transported by sea. It is the merchant sailors of the modern day that keep our shop shelves stocked, bring materials for industry and construction, and transport us on our seaward travels.”

Ben Van Eijden is one of Ports’ two Merchant Navy Cadets. He is almost at the end of his first year and has just returned to Jersey from training in the Gulf of Aden. He said: “I have been at sea on Al Areesh, an LNG tanker for more than three months and have learned so much. From coming on to the bridge with no experience to operating bridge equipment with confidence.

“The crew have always been happy to teach me anything and I am falling in love with the job, even though I have a way to go. I am very grateful to Ports of Jersey for this opportunity.”

Ports of Jersey’s Harbour Master, Captain Bill Sadler, said: “The sacrifice of the 36,000 civilian sailors from the Merchant Navy who lost their lives during the Second World War, and the role they now play in supplying us with essential goods, is often overlooked, and I’m pleased that Merchant Navy Day continues to remind people of the valuable work of merchant seafarers.”

Port of Jersey