UK. Red Ensign flies to mark Merchant Navy Day

Monday, 03 September 2007

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

Shipping Minister Jim Fitzpatrick said: "Today we remember the sacrifices made by the merchant seamen of the past, over 20,000 of whom lost their lives during the Second World War alone. Merchant Navy Day honours their memory, and also looks forward to a brighter future for British shipping and seafarers.

"Our merchant navy took great risks to keep us supplied with the means to fight and survive during the World Wars. Today, we still rely on the sea and shipping for the transport of the vast majority of our foreign trade.

"The long period of decline experienced by the British merchant fleet and our shipping industry towards the end of the twentieth century is now over, and I am pleased to say that the industry is looking the healthiest it has been in many years. The increase in the tonnage and the number of ships on the UK Ship Register is visible evidence of this.

"The new climate created by our introduction of the tonnage tax, and the re-launch of the UK Ship Register, with further customer-focused reforms at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, have been major factors in encouraging shipowners to choose the UK Register.

"We are seeking to improve training and employment opportunities for UK seafarers. The tonnage tax training commitment is central to our efforts in this regard and we are constantly looking to see if we can make it, and our Support for Maritime Training Scheme, better. Through these measures and our support for initiatives like Sea Vision UK we are working to promote maritime careers and secure a vibrant maritime future for the UK."

Editors note:

The decision to hold a Merchant Navy Day was announced by former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in September 1999. The purpose was to raise the profile of British shipping as a career option and to increase the number of British seafarers.

The Government is achieving its policy of attracting ships to the UK flag. Since 1997 the UK registered fleet of sizeable trading vessels (500 gross tons and over) has increased from 2,381,000 to 12,415,000 deadweight tonnes, an increase of 421.42 per cent.

The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) have been appointing Customer Service Managers to assist with enquiries throughout the registration process. This - and removing excess regulation - has made the UK flag more attractive.

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.

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.

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.

Last Updated ( Monday, 03 September 2007 )