Defending the lifeblood of maritime - why the Red Ensign Group stands with seafarers

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If you’ve ever travelled on a ship or worked on one, you’ll want to know that it’s run at top class international maritime standards.

That’s why we in the Red Ensign Group are proud of the flag that all our vessels wear. We know that wherever you see it, on vessels from Bermuda, the Isle of Man, Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Falkland Islands, British Virgin Islands, Gibraltar, Jersey and the UK, it might look like just a flag but it’s so much more.

On a day when we mark Merchant Navy Day, paying tribute to those who are the lifeblood of maritime, it’s the Red Ensign that represents all those amazing people.

It stands for crew welfare and well-being, an understanding of how much the seafarers contribute to our every day lives and economies.

Francis Richardson is the head of the Bermuda Shipping and Maritime Authority. He said: ‘We value our seafarers and take our responsibility to them very seriously and stand with them not just today but every day.’

And the chief executive of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency Brian Johnson said that this year’s Merchant Navy Day had an added poignancy. ‘It was today, eighty years ago that the passenger liner SS Athenia became the first maritime casualty of the Second World War when she was torpedoed, with the loss of 128 lives.’

Katy Ware, director of maritime safety and standards at the Maritime & Coastguard Agency who chairs the Red Ensign Group Conference, agrees.

She said: ‘We support seafarers not only because they are the lifeblood of maritime but because we know the difficulties of life at sea and the hard work they do in dangerous conditions.’

David Graham, who heads the Maritime Administration in Gibraltar said that the work done in the background by the Red Ensign Group was invaluable.

‘When you’re at sea,’ he said, ‘It’s really vital to know that the ship standards are being watched over and that owners can and will be held to account. The Red Ensign Group will continue to do that with all its strength.

Isle of Man Ship Registry director Cameron Mitchell said that the seafarers’ role across the Red Ensign Group was valued and supported.

‘We know that every ship we survey, every piece of regulation that we enforce is a huge part of our responsibility towards those who take on life at sea.’

Part of the work that is done by the Red Ensign Group involves a technical forum that looks at rules and regulations around crew welfare and safety of ships.

Richard Pellew of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, co-chairs it. He said: If you board a ship or vessel with a Red Ensign on it, you don’t have to ask questions about safety and crew welfare, because the answers have already been demanded by us.’

Joel Walton, from the Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands said there would be no compromise. He said: ‘The Red Ensign Group will continue to stand up for what is right. We remain firm on crew welfare and well-being. We collaborate but without compromise on our standards. High standards are good business. For the Red Ensign Group, it’s the only way to do business.’