For Merchant Mariners the price paid for victory in WWII was very high. It is estimated that between 1939 and 1945 almost 5000 merchant vessels were sunk and around 60,000 seafarers killed - many of them sailing under the British flag and the various flags of the Dominions. Most have 'no grave but the sea'.
Launched in early 2004, the Federation of Merchant Mariners brings together many associations/organisations connected to the Merchant Navy whose aim is to gain recognition for the role that merchant seafarers have played in the defence and development of the nation.
The past is important but the Merchant Mariners is not backward looking. The torch of our maritime heritage handed to us by Merchant Navy Veterans must be passed on to young people to carry on the traditions of the sea.
Many seafarers feel that for far too long the role of the Merchant Navy in peace and war has been overlooked.
The Federation of Merchant Mariners saw an opportunity in 2004 when the celebrations for the 60th Anniversary of WW11 were being arranged to launch its vision for a national representative organisation.
Our aim was to encourage and facilitate all merchant navy associations and similar organisations to achieve more for our common cause by speaking with a united voice.
Our objective was then and is now to gain recognition for the role of the Merchant Navy in the defence and development of our Nation.
The idea is simple (but then the best ones usually are) The Merchant Mariners as an umbrella organisation concentrates solely on common issues agreed by our members whilst leaving the internal management and policy of the individual member organisations to themselves. This unity results in greater strength on the national scene yet does not interfere with the autonomy of member organisations. Sharing events and social occasions gives us a wider calendar and a greater network of community contacts and shipmates.
Individual membership is also available and members have the advantage of having direct contact with the central office without having to attend branch meetings. Our “Weather-Eye” welfare and friendship package has been developed following the monitoring of our members needs.
Having played a leading part in a successful campaign to persuade H M Government to issue the very first Civilian Veterans Award the United Kingdom Merchant Seafarers Veterans Badge we are pleased to be authorised by the Ministry of Defence to deal with the applications for and the distribution of the coveted Award. However we do much more than simply award the Badge. We are taking the message of the service and sacrifice of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets which the Veterans Badge represents to the very heart of the community both nationally and locally as never before.
We are not simply a veteran’s organisation, far from it. Whilst applauding the contribution and sacrifice made by so many merchant seafarers in war we are equally committed to those presently serving and ensuring that the torch of our maritime traditions are handed on to the future generations of seafarers.