Merchant Navy
Overview
The Merchant Navy is the maritime register of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, and describes the seagoing commercial interests of UK-registered ships and their crews. Merchant Navy vessels fly the Red Ensign
Red Ensign
The Red Ensign or "Red Duster" is a flag that originated in the early 17th century as a British ensign flown by the Royal Navy and later specifically by British merchantmen. The precise date of its first appearance is not known, but surviving receipts indicate that the Navy was paying to have such...

 and are regulated by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA)
Maritime and Coastguard Agency
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is a UK executive agency working to prevent the loss of lives at sea and is responsible for implementing British and International maritime law and safety policy.This involves coordinating search and rescue at sea through Her Majesty's Coastguard , ensuring that...

. King George V bestowed the title of "Merchant Navy" on the British merchant shipping fleets following their service in the First World War; a number of other nations have since adopted the title.
The Merchant Navy has been in existence for a significant period in British history, owing much of its growth to British imperial expansion.
Encyclopedia
The Merchant Navy is the maritime register of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, and describes the seagoing commercial interests of UK-registered ships and their crews. Merchant Navy vessels fly the Red Ensign
Red Ensign
The Red Ensign or "Red Duster" is a flag that originated in the early 17th century as a British ensign flown by the Royal Navy and later specifically by British merchantmen. The precise date of its first appearance is not known, but surviving receipts indicate that the Navy was paying to have such...

 and are regulated by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA)
Maritime and Coastguard Agency
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is a UK executive agency working to prevent the loss of lives at sea and is responsible for implementing British and International maritime law and safety policy.This involves coordinating search and rescue at sea through Her Majesty's Coastguard , ensuring that...

. King George V bestowed the title of "Merchant Navy" on the British merchant shipping fleets following their service in the First World War; a number of other nations have since adopted the title.

History

The Merchant Navy has been in existence for a significant period in British history, owing much of its growth to British imperial expansion. As an entity in itself it can be dated back to the 17th century, where an attempt was made to register all seamen as a source of manpower for the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 during times of conflict. That registration of merchant seamen 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
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and the Far East
Far East
The Far East is an English term mostly describing East Asia and Southeast Asia, with South Asia sometimes also included for economic and cultural reasons.The term came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 19th century,...

. The lucrative trade in sugar
Sugar
Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

, spices and tea
Tea
Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared by adding cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant to hot water. The term also refers to the plant itself. After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world...

 (carried by ships such as the Cutty Sark
Cutty Sark
The Cutty Sark is a clipper ship. Built in 1869, she served as a merchant vessel , and then as a training ship until being put on public display in 1954...

) helped to solidify this dominance in the 19th century.
Main articles: Battle of the Atlantic (1914-1918) and Battle of the Atlantic (1939-1945).

During the First and Second World Wars, the Merchant Service suffered heavy losses from German U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

 attacks. A policy of unrestricted warfare meant that merchant seamen were also at risk of attack from enemy ships. The tonnage lost to U-boats during the First World War was around 7,759,090 tons, and around 14,661 merchant seamen lost their lives. In honour of the sacrifice made by merchant seamen during the First World War, King George V granted the title "Merchant Navy" to the service. The Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales is a title traditionally granted to the heir apparent to the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the 15 other independent Commonwealth realms...

 was made the Master of the Merchant Navy.

In the Second World War, German U-boats sank nearly 14.7 million tons of allied shipping, which amounts 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 is 54% of the total Merchant Navy fleet at the outbreak of the Second World War. 30,000 merchant seamen were killed aboard convoy vessels during 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 during the two World Wars, the Merchant Navy lays wreaths of remembrance alongside the armed forces during the annual Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth countries since the end of World War I to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. This day, or alternative dates, are also recognized as special days for war remembrances in many non-Commonwealth...

 service on 11 November. Following many years of lobbying to bring about official recognition of the sacrifices made by merchant seaman in two world wars and since, Merchant Navy Day became an official day of remembrance on 3 September 2000.

Despite maintaining its dominant position for considerable time, the decline of the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 in the mid-20th century inevitably led to the decline of the merchant fleet. This is shown in the following table, comparing certain vessel types in 1957 and 2008:
Merchant Navy: 1957 and 2008
Ship Type 1957 2008
Passenger vessels 322 37 (including RORO
RORO
Roll-on/roll-off ships are vessels designed to carry wheeled cargo such as automobiles, trucks, semi-trailer trucks, trailers or railroad cars that are driven on and off the ship on their own wheels...

s)
General cargo ships 1,145 55
Tankers 575 88
Total 2042 180


As of 2005, the Merchant Navy consists of 429 ships of or over; a total of . This amounts to . These vessels can be categorised as follows:
  • 18 bulk carrier
    Bulk carrier
    A bulk carrier, bulk freighter, or bulker is a merchant ship specially designed to transport unpackaged bulk cargo, such as grains, coal, ore, and cement in its cargo holds. Since the first specialized bulk carrier was built in 1852, economic forces have fueled the development of these ships,...

    s
  • 55 general cargo ship
    Cargo ship
    A cargo ship or freighter is any sort of ship or vessel that carries cargo, goods, and materials from one port to another. Thousands of cargo carriers ply the world's seas and oceans each year; they handle the bulk of international trade...

    s
  • 48 chemical tanker
    Chemical tanker
    A chemical tanker is a type of tanker designed to transport chemicals in bulk.Ocean-going chemical tankers generally range from to in size, which is considerably smaller than the average size of other tanker types due to the specialised nature of their cargoes and the size restrictions of the...

    s
  • 134 container ship
    Container ship
    Container ships are cargo ships that carry all of their load in truck-size intermodal containers, in a technique called containerization. They form a common means of commercial intermodal freight transport.-History:...

    s,
  • 11 liquefied gas carriers
    LNG carrier
    An LNG carrier is a tank ship designed for transporting liquefied natural gas . As the LNG market grows rapidly, the fleet of LNG carriers continues to experience tremendous growth.-History:...

  • 12 passenger ship
    Passenger ship
    A passenger ship is a ship whose primary function is to carry passengers. The category does not include cargo vessels which have accommodations for limited numbers of passengers, such as the ubiquitous twelve-passenger freighters once common on the seas in which the transport of passengers is...

    s
  • 64 combination passenger/cargo ships
  • 40 petroleum tankers
  • 19 refrigerated cargo ships
    Reefer (ship)
    A refrigerator ship is a type of ship typically used to transport perishable commodities which require temperature-controlled transportation, mostly fruits, meat, fish, vegetables, dairy products and other foodstuffs....

  • 25 roll-on/roll-off ships
  • 3 vehicle carriers.


In addition, UK interests own 446 ships registered in other countries, and 202 foreign-owned ships are registered in the UK.

Officers past and present

A person hoping to one day become a captain
Captain (nautical)
A sea captain is a licensed mariner in ultimate command of the vessel. The captain is responsible for its safe and efficient operation, including cargo operations, navigation, crew management and ensuring that the vessel complies with local and international laws, as well as company and flag...

, or master
Master mariner
A Master Mariner or MM is the professional qualification required for someone to serve as the person in charge or person in command of a commercial vessel. In England, the term Master Mariner has been in use at least since the 13th century, reflecting the fact that in guild or livery company terms,...

 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
HMS Conway (school ship)
HMS Conway was a naval training school or "school ship", founded in 1859 and housed for most of its life aboard a 19th-century wooden battleship. The ship was originally stationed on the Mersey near Liverpool, then moved to the Menai Strait during World War II. While being towed back to Birkenhead...

 and HMS Worcester or Pangbourne Nautical College
Pangbourne College
Pangbourne College is a coeducational independent school located in the civil parish of Pangbourne, just South West of the village, in the English County of Berkshire....

, which would automatically lead to an apprenticeship
Apprenticeship
Apprenticeship is a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a skill. Apprentices or protégés build their careers from apprenticeships...

 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 perhaps the age of 17 (with poor prospects of being accepted without some nautical school or other similar prior education.) 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
Boatswain
A boatswain , bo's'n, bos'n, or bosun is an unlicensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship. The boatswain supervises the other unlicensed members of the ship's deck department, and typically is not a watchstander, except on vessels with small crews...

 cleaning bilge
Bilge
The bilge is the lowest compartment on a ship where the two sides meet at the keel. The word was coined in 1513.-Bilge water:The word is sometimes also used to describe the water that collects in this compartment. Water that does not drain off the side of the deck drains down through the ship into...

s, chipping paint, polishing brass, cement washing freshwater tanks, and holystoning
Holystone
Holystone is a soft and brittle sandstone that was formerly used for scouring and whitening the wooden decks of ships. It was used in the British and American Navy for scrubbing the decks of sailing ships....

 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
Second Mate
A second mate or second officer is a licensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship. The second mate is the third in command and a watchkeeping officer, customarily the ship's navigator. Other duties vary, but the second mate is often the medical officer and in charge of maintaining...

. With luck, one could become an "uncertificated" second mate in the last year.

The modern route to becoming a deck or engineer officer comprises a total of three years of which at least one is spent at sea and the remainder at a sea college. 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. Training is now undertaken at Warsash Maritime Academy
Warsash Maritime Academy
Warsash Maritime Academy is a maritime training college and is part of Southampton Solent University. The academy campus is just east of Southampton aside the River Hamble and Warsash village. The college provides education, training, consultancy and research to the international shipping and...

, Shetland School of Nautical Studies, South Tyneside College, Glasgow College of Nautical Studies and Fleetwood Nautical Campus. As well as earning an OOW (Officer of the Watch
Watchstanding
Watchstanding, or watchkeeping, in nautical terms concerns the division of qualified personnel to operate a ship continuously around the clock. On a typical sea going vessel, be it naval or merchant, personnel keep watch on the bridge and over the running machinery...

) certificate, they gain valuable training at sea and an HND or degree in their chosen discipline. The decrease of officer recruiting in the past, combined with the huge expansion of trade via shipping is causing a shortage of officers in the UK, traditionally a major seafaring nation, and as such a scheme called Maritime UK has been launched to raise general awareness of the Merchant Navy in the modern day roles.

Another essential seagoing career was that of the radio officer (or R/O, but usually "sparks"), often, though not exclusively, employed and placed by the Marconi Company
Marconi Company
The Marconi Company Ltd. was founded by Guglielmo Marconi in 1897 as The Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company...

 or one of a number of similar radio company employers. After the inquiry into the sinking of the RMS Titanic, and the nearby SS Californian
SS Californian
SS Californian was a Leyland Line steamship that is best known for the controversy surrounding her location during the sinking of the RMS Titanic on 15 April 1912. The Californian was later sunk herself, in 1915, by U-34.-History:...

which did not render assistance due to their radio being down for the night, it was ordered that round-the-clock watch had to be maintained on all ships over 1600 GT
Tonnage
Tonnage is a measure of the size or cargo carrying capacity of a ship. The term derives from the taxation paid on tuns or casks of wine, and was later used in reference to the weight of a ship's cargo; however, in modern maritime usage, "tonnage" specifically refers to a calculation of the volume...

. Most vessels only carried one radio officer, and during the hours he was off-duty, an automatic alarm device monitored the distress frequency. Today, Marconi no longer supplies radio officers to ships at sea, because they are no longer required, due to the development of satellites. Deck officers are now dual trained as GMDSS officers, thereby being able to operate all of the ship's onboard communication systems and ETOs (Electro Technical Officer) are trained to fix and maintain the more complex systems.

Comsat
COMSAT
The Communications Satellite Corporation is a global telecommunications company, based in the USA, and with branches in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela and several other countries in the Americas. It is present also in Turkey...

 launched their first commercial satellite in 1976 and by the mid 1980s satellite communication domes had become a familiar sight at sea. The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System or GMDSS was introduced and by 1 February 1999, all ships had to be fitted, thus bringing to an end the position of radio officer. This has led to a new career path, the recently introduced electro-technical officer (ETO), who is a trained engineer with qualifications to assist the mechanical engineer to maintain vital electronic equipment such as radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

s and RADAR
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

s. ETOs are marine engineers given extra training. Although ETOs are relatively new, many companies are beginning to employ them, (although mechanical engineers are still employed).

Ship crews are of course made up of others, working under the eyes of the officers; the deck crew and bo'sun, responsible for general maintenance, sailing "before the mast", (which, due to exaggerated pitching
Metacentric height
The metacentric height is a measurement of the static stability of a floating body. It is calculated as the distance between the centre of gravity of a ship and its metacentre . A larger metacentric height implies greater stability against overturning...

 motion in bad weather, is the least comfortable part of the ship). Other duties aboard ship are performed by the ship's carpenter, the cooks, the stewards, the quartermaster
Quartermaster
Quartermaster refers to two different military occupations depending on if the assigned unit is land based or naval.In land armies, especially US units, it is a term referring to either an individual soldier or a unit who specializes in distributing supplies and provisions to troops. The senior...

 who steers the ship, and the below-decks crew, often referred to as "greasers". Ocean-going vessels with more than 12 passengers are required to have a doctor aboard. For ships of the British Merchant Navy on foreign service, interestingly, it used to be that each of these departments were peopled with ethnically based workers. The deck crew would often be Malay
Malásia
Malásia is the twelfth album by Brazilian singer and songwriter Djavan released in 1996.The album opens with the song "O Que foi My Love?", a jazz accelerated ending in the form of blues; "Sêca", which talks about the drought in northeastern jungle; "Nem Um Dia" biggest hit of the album on the...

, the quartermasters Filipino
Filipino people
The Filipino people or Filipinos are an Austronesian ethnic group native to the islands of the Philippines. There are about 92 million Filipinos in the Philippines, and about 11 million living outside the Philippines ....

, the greasers and stewards Indian, the cooks Indian but from Goa
Goa
Goa , a former Portuguese colony, is India's smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by population. Located in South West India in the region known as the Konkan, it is bounded by the state of Maharashtra to the north, and by Karnataka to the east and south, while the Arabian Sea forms its...

 where, being Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

, they could prepare Western style food, and the ship's carpenter ("chippy") would often be Chinese
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

. The officers would be British or Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

, headed by the captain (or master, but more often referred to as "the old man"). The purser
Purser
The purser joined the warrant officer ranks of the Royal Navy in the early fourteenth century and existed as a Naval rank until 1852. The development of the warrant officer system began in 1040 when five English ports began furnishing warships to King Edward the Confessor in exchange for certain...

 was in charge of the ship's stores. Nowadays, ships have turnaround times of less than twenty-four hours instead of several days, due to containerisation, requiring a much smaller crew. The passenger liners that once transported people now ply the oceans for pleasure seekers
Cruise ship
A cruise ship or cruise liner is a passenger ship used for pleasure voyages, where the voyage itself and the ship's amenities are part of the experience, as well as the different destinations along the way...

, cargo ships have switched to containers
Container ship
Container ships are cargo ships that carry all of their load in truck-size intermodal containers, in a technique called containerization. They form a common means of commercial intermodal freight transport.-History:...

 using efficient shoreside cranes
Crane (machine)
A crane is a type of machine, generally equipped with a hoist, wire ropes or chains, and sheaves, that can be used both to lift and lower materials and to move them horizontally. It uses one or more simple machines to create mechanical advantage and thus move loads beyond the normal capability of...

 instead of the ship's derrick
Derrick
A derrick is a lifting device composed of one tower, or guyed mast such as a pole which is hinged freely at the bottom. It is controlled by lines powered by some means such as man-hauling or motors, so that the pole can move in all four directions. A line runs up it and over its top with a hook on...

s, and tankers have become gigantic supertankers.

Sailing on the high seas has a long history, with embedded traditions largely inherited from the days of sail. Because of the ever-present concerns of safety for crew and passengers, the layers of authority are rigid, discipline strict, and mutiny
Mutiny
Mutiny is a conspiracy among members of a group of similarly situated individuals to openly oppose, change or overthrow an authority to which they are subject...

 almost unknown.

Merchant mariners are held in high esteem as a result of their extraordinary losses in times of war. The ships were often "sitting ducks" lined up in the sights of enemy combatants.

Notable people

A number of notable Merchant Navy personnel include:
  • Joseph Conrad
    Joseph Conrad
    Joseph Conrad was a Polish-born English novelist.Conrad is regarded as one of the great novelists in English, although he did not speak the language fluently until he was in his twenties...

    : joined the Merchant Navy in 1874, rising through the ranks of Second Mate and First Mate, to Master in 1886. Left in order to write professionally, becoming one of the twentieth-century's greatest novelists.
  • Arthur Phillip
    Arthur Phillip
    Admiral Arthur Phillip RN was a British admiral and colonial administrator. Phillip was appointed Governor of New South Wales, the first European colony on the Australian continent, and was the founder of the settlement which is now the city of Sydney.-Early life and naval career:Arthur Phillip...

    : joined the Merchant Navy in 1751 and 37 years later founded the city of Sydney, Australia.
  • Ken Russell
    Ken Russell
    Henry Kenneth Alfred "Ken" Russell was an English film director, known for his pioneering work in television and film and for his flamboyant and controversial style. He attracted criticism as being obsessed with sexuality and the church...

    : directed films such as Tommy
    Tommy (film)
    Tommy is a 1975 British musical film based upon The Who's 1969 rock opera album musical Tommy. It was directed by Ken Russell and featured a star-studded cast, including the band members themselves...

    , Altered States
    Altered States
    Altered States is a 1980 American science fiction-horror film adaptation of a novel by the same name by playwright and screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky. It was the only novel that Chayefsky ever wrote, as well as his final film. Both the novel and the film are based on John C...

    , and The Lair of the White Worm
    The Lair of the White Worm (film)
    The Lair of the White Worm is a 1988 film based loosely on the novel by Bram Stoker of the same name and drawing upon the English myth of the Lambton Worm...

    .
  • Samuel Plimsoll
    Samuel Plimsoll
    Samuel Plimsoll was a British politician and social reformer, now best remembered for having devised the Plimsoll line .-Early life:Plimsoll was born in Bristol and soon moved to Whiteley Wood...

    : politician who invented the Plimsoll Line
    Waterline
    The term "waterline" generally refers to the line where the hull of a ship meets the water surface. It is also the name of a special marking, also known as the national Load Line or Plimsoll Line, to be positioned amidships, that indicates the draft of the ship and the legal limit to which a ship...

    , making merchant vessels safer for crews to work on.
  • Kevin McClory
    Kevin McClory
    Kevin O'Donovan McClory was an Irish screenwriter, producer, and director. McClory was best known for the 1983 James Bond film Never Say Never Again, which was the result of a long legal battle between McClory and Ian Fleming over the writing credits and later the film rights to...

    : an Irishman
    Ireland
    Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

     who spent fourteen days in a lifeboat and later went on to write the James Bond movies Never Say Never Again and Thunderball.
  • Alun Owen
    Alun Owen
    Alun Owen was a British screenwriter, predominantly active in television, but best remembered by a wider audience for writing the screenplay of The Beatles' debut feature film A Hard Day's Night ....

    : later wrote the screenplay for A Hard Day's Night
    Alun Owen
    Alun Owen was a British screenwriter, predominantly active in television, but best remembered by a wider audience for writing the screenplay of The Beatles' debut feature film A Hard Day's Night ....

    .
  • Freddie Lennon: a Merchant Navy steward whose son would later found the musical group The Beatles
    The Beatles
    The Beatles were an English rock band, active throughout the 1960s and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Formed in Liverpool, by 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison and Ringo Starr...

    .
  • John Prescott
    John Prescott
    John Leslie Prescott, Baron Prescott is a British politician who was Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007. Born in Prestatyn, Wales, he represented Hull East as the Labour Member of Parliament from 1970 to 2010...

    : a Merchant Navy steward who became Deputy Prime Minister
    Deputy Prime Minister
    A deputy prime minister or vice prime minister is, in some counties, a government minister who can take the position of acting prime minister when the prime minister is temporarily absent. The position is often likened to that of a vice president, but is significantly different, though both...

     in 1997 under Tony Blair
    Tony Blair
    Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

    .
  • Fred Blackburn
    Fred Blackburn (footballer)
    Frederick Blackburn was an English footballer.Fred Blackburn played for his home-town club of Blackburn Rovers, playing as an outside left, and featured for the team at the age of 17....

    : England footballer.
  • Edwin Stratton
    Edwin Stratton
    Edwin William James Stratton was a British aikido teacher and the founder of Yoshinkan UK, and the Shudokan Institute of Aikido International.-External links:**-Sources:...

    : founder of Yoshinkan UK.
  • Air Marshal Sir Peter Horsley
    Peter Horsley
    Air Marshal Sir Beresford Peter Torrington Horsley KCB, CBE, LVO, AFC was a senior Royal Air Force commander.-Early life:...

    : Deputy Commander in Chief (Strike Command
    RAF Strike Command
    The Royal Air Force's Strike Command was the military formation which controlled the majority of the United Kingdom's bomber and fighter aircraft from 1968 until 2007: it was merged with Personnel and Training Command to form the single Air Command. It latterly consisted of two formations - No. 1...

    ) from 1973 - 1975. Started work as a deck boy in 1939 aboard the TSS Cyclops.
  • Gareth Hunt
    Gareth Hunt
    Alan Leonard Hunt was an English actor, known as Gareth Hunt, best remembered for playing the footman Frederick Norton in Upstairs, Downstairs and Mike Gambit in The New Avengers.-Early life:...

    : actor, notably in The New Avengers, and Upstairs, Downstairs
    Upstairs, Downstairs
    Upstairs, Downstairs is a British drama television series originally produced by London Weekend Television and revived by the BBC. It ran on ITV in 68 episodes divided into five series from 1971 to 1975, and a sixth series shown on the BBC on three consecutive nights, 26–28 December 2010.Set in a...



Members of the British Merchant Navy have won the George Cross
George Cross
The George Cross is the highest civil decoration of the United Kingdom, and also holds, or has held, that status in many of the other countries of the Commonwealth of Nations...

 and the Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Cross (United Kingdom)
The Distinguished Service Cross is the third level military decoration awarded to officers, and other ranks, of the British Armed Forces, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and British Merchant Navy and formerly also to officers of other Commonwealth countries.The DSC, which may be awarded posthumously, is...

 while serving in the Merchant Navy. Canadian Philip Bent
Philip Bent
Lieutenant Colonel Philip Eric Bent VC DSO was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.-Biography:...

, ex-British Merchant Navy, joined the British Army at the outbreak of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and won the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

.

British shipping companies

The British Merchant Navy consists of various private shipping companies. Over the years many companies have come and gone, merged, changed their name or changed owners.

The following is a list of some of the British shipping companies, past and present:
  • Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company (Shell Tankers)
  • Ben Line
    Ben Line
    The Ben Line or Ben Line Steamers, Limited was a Scottish shipping company based at Leith, Scotland which specialised in the fast carriage of cargo to and from the Far East...

  • Bibby Line
    Bibby Line
    The Bibby Line is a British company concerned with shipping and marine operations.Its parent company, Bibby Line Group Limited, can be traced back to the shipbroking partnership of Bibby & Hall, which was founded in 1801. It is and always has been based in Liverpool...

  • Blue Funnel Line
    Blue Funnel Line
    Alfred Holt and Company, marketed as the Blue Funnel Line, was founded by Alfred Holt on 16 January 1866.The main operating subsidiary was the Ocean Steam Ship Company, which owned and operated the majority of the company's vessels....

  • British Tanker Company
    British Tanker Company
    British Tanker Company Limited was the maritime transport arm of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, the forerunner of BP. The British Tanker Company was formed in 1915 with an initial fleet of seven oil tankers...

  • Clan Line
    Clan Line
    The Clan Line was a passenger and cargo shipping company that operated in one incarnation or another from the late nineteenth century and into the twentieth century.-Foundation and early years:...

  • Cunard Line
    Cunard Line
    Cunard Line is a British-American owned shipping company based at Carnival House in Southampton, England and operated by Carnival UK. It has been a leading operator of passenger ships on the North Atlantic for over a century...

  • Elder Dempster Lines
    Elder Dempster Lines
    Elder Dempster Lines was a British shipping company which operated from 1932 to 2000, although its origins stretch back into the mid-19th century.-History:Elder Dempster and Company started trading as the African Steamship Company in 1852...

  • Ellerman Lines
    Ellerman Lines
    Ellerman Lines was a cargo and passenger shipping company that operated from the late nineteenth century and into the twentieth century. It was founded in the late nineteenth century, and continued to expand with the acquisition of smaller shipping lines until it became one of the largest shipping...

  • Evan Thomas Radcliffe
    Evan Thomas Radcliffe
    One of the more prosperous and best-known of Cardiff based shipowning companies was that of Messrs. Evan Thomas, Radcliffe and Company, established in 1882 by a West Wales sea captain, Evan Thomas, and a Merthyr Tydfil businessman, Henry Radcliffe...

  • Fyffes Line
    Fyffes Line
    Fyffes Line was the name given to the fleet of passenger-carrying banana boats owned and operated by the UK banana importer Elders & Fyffes Limited.-History:...

  • Lamport and Holt
  • North Star Shipping
  • Ocean Steam Navigation Company (White Star Line)
    White Star Line
    The Oceanic Steam Navigation Company or White Star Line of Boston Packets, more commonly known as the White Star Line, was a prominent British shipping company, today most famous for its ill-fated vessel, the RMS Titanic, and the World War I loss of Titanics sister ship Britannic...

  • Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company
    Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company
    The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, which is usually known as P&O, is a British shipping and logistics company which dated from the early 19th century. Following its sale in March 2006 to Dubai Ports World for £3.9 billion, it became a subsidiary of DP World; however, the P&O...

  • Ropner Shipping Company
  • Royal Mail Steam Packet Company
    Royal Mail Steam Packet Company
    The Royal Mail Steam Packet Company was a British shipping company founded in London in 1839 by Scot James Macqueen. After good and bad times it became the largest shipping group in the world in 1927 when it took over the White Star Line....

  • Silver Line
  • Union-Castle Line
    Union-Castle Line
    The Union-Castle Line was a prominent British shipping line that operated a fleet of passenger liners and cargo ships between Europe and Africa from 1900 to 1977. It was formed from the merger of the Union Line and Castle Shipping Line...

  • Global Marine Systems
    Global Marine Systems
    Global Marine Systems is a specialist-shipping company that installs, maintains and repairs submarine communications and power cables.- History :...

    , previously Cable & Wireless
    Cable & Wireless
    Cable & Wireless Worldwide PLC is a global telecommunications company headquartered in Bracknell, United Kingdom. Cable & Wireless specialises in providing communication networks and services to large corporates, governments, carrier customers and resellers...

     Marine and British Telecom Marine
  • BP

See also

  • Equivalent Royal Navy ranks in the Merchant Navy
    Equivalent Royal Navy ranks in the Merchant Navy
    These are the equivalent Merchant Navy and Royal Navy ranks officially recognised by the British Government in the Second World War.Naval Auxiliaries were members of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and crews of Admiralty cable ships or merchant ships or commissioned rescue tugs requisitioned by the Royal...

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

  • Maritime and Coastguard Agency
    Maritime and Coastguard Agency
    The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is a UK executive agency working to prevent the loss of lives at sea and is responsible for implementing British and International maritime law and safety policy.This involves coordinating search and rescue at sea through Her Majesty's Coastguard , ensuring that...

  • Transportation in the United Kingdom
  • Royal Naval Reserve
    Royal Naval Reserve
    The Royal Naval Reserve is the volunteer reserve force of the Royal Navy in the United Kingdom. The present Royal Naval Reserve was formed in 1958 by merging the original Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve , a reserve of civilian volunteers founded in 1903...

  • Master Mariner
    Master mariner
    A Master Mariner or MM is the professional qualification required for someone to serve as the person in charge or person in command of a commercial vessel. In England, the term Master Mariner has been in use at least since the 13th century, reflecting the fact that in guild or livery company terms,...


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