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Seafarers UK celebrates success after campaigning since 2012

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Barry Bryant

Barry Bryant


UK Merchant Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary members to now be recognised and supported by the Armed Forces Covenant

Seafarers UK celebrates success after campaigning since 2012

Seafarers UK, formerly King George’s Fund for Sailors and as the charity representing the whole UK maritime community, has long recognised the vital service that personnel of the Merchant Navy and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary have rendered to the United Kingdom in times of strife.

From the convoys of the First and Second World Wars through to post-war campaigns such as Suez, Kuwait and the Falklands, unarmed and often unprotected, they kept this island nation afloat and the Royal Navy supplied when hostile powers tried to starve us into submission. Personnel who had served in all these campaigns were originally recognised as bona fide ‘veterans’ in an informal agreement with the Ministry of Defence in 2009.

Unfortunately, when the Armed Forces Covenant was issued in 2012, these personnel were unwittingly excluded from the definition of those who should benefit from this otherwise hugely important agreement between the state and those who help to defend it.

Seafarers UK has fought a lengthy – although fortunately bloodless – campaign fully to recognise the Merchant Navy dimension in our overall armoury, supported throughout by the Confederation of Service Charities (Cobseo).

Seafarers UK is therefore delighted that the present administration, under the direction of the Minister for Defence Personnel and Veterans, Mark Lancaster MP, has recognised the very real case for recognition and has asked for the following statement to be included in this year’s Covenant Annual Report:

‘Members of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Merchant Navy deserve recognition for their service to their country in successive conflicts. All those who have served on a civilian vessel whilst it was supporting HM Armed Forces are recognised as veterans. It is therefore appropriate that this group is recognised and supported by the Armed Forces Covenant. This is a sign of the nation’s gratitude.

Commodore Barry Bryant, Director General of Seafarers UK, commented:

‘For too long these gallant seafarers have been denied the proper respect and position that they deserve. We must now ensure that they receive the full appreciation and benefit bestowed by this decision, and I pay full tribute to the present Minister and his team for this sensible and decisive judgement.’


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