The 3rd September 2000 was the United Kingdom’s very first Merchant Navy Day and I am very pleased and proud to have attended many of them ever since. The last one being at a service in the Mission to Seafarers Chapel, South Shields on Tuesday of last week, 3rd September 2019. The congregation then walked 200 yards to the Merchant Navy Memorial; for the laying of wreaths in memory of all Merchant Navy Seafarers lost at sea in peacetime as well as during conflicts.
I assume many countries have their equivalent of Merchant Navy Day and rightly so. It was mentioned during the service that organisations connected with the UK merchant navy have been actively involved with trying to seek the recognition merchant seafarers deserve, for decades and they still are. It was a great victory for them when the UK government agreed to a form of recognition with the establishment of Merchant Navy Day. More information is.
As I said in my blog on 2nd July, when talking about ‘Sea Sunday’:-
I like to think that these days people are more aware of the significant role seafarers serving in the Merchant Navies of the world play, in bringing them foods and goods that are essential and desirable in helping them to enjoy their lifestyle. That said, I doubt if many people in the UK for example, realise that 95% of all imports and exports by volume are transported by sea. A truly staggering fact that probably evades most people and it is down to the seafaring organisations to keep hammering away at educating the global population to know just how much they owe to seafarers and try to evoke some gratitude and respect for the men and women who work in such a dangerous environment.
The service was dual denomination, conducted by Rev’d Pat Bealing and Monsignor Ronnie Brown and was attended by the Mayor and Mayoress of South Tyneside. It included 4 Hymns, some prayers, bible readings, a short heart-rending Address from Pat Bealing and a reading of the Seafarers Psalm, written by Capt. J. Rodgers and read by the Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor Norman Dick. Obviously based on the 23rd Psalm, it goes like this:-
The Lord is my pilot, I shall not drift
He lighteth me across the dark waters:
He steereth me in the deep channels.
He Keepeth my log;
He guideth me by the Star of Holiness for
Yea though I sail mid the thunders
And tempests of life
I shall dread no danger;
For thou art with me; Thy love and Thy care
They shelter me.
Thou preparest a harbour before me
In the homeland of eternity;
Thou anointest the waves with oil;
My ship rideth calmly.
Surely sunlight and starlight shall favour
Me on the voyage I take:
And I will rest in the port of my God forever.
JHL MBE SSL Co. Chairman