Merchant Navy Day which supports the future of seafarers and remembers the sacrifices of those lost at sea, will be recognised at the Scalloway Marine Centre this morning. Shetland MSP Tavish Scott is the local guest of honour for Merchant Day as the Red Ensign is raised at 10am.
Tavish Scott said, "The men and women of the merchant navy underpin Shetland's economy. The local seafood industry is worth £351 million to our economy. That is exported by seafarers. The Marine Centre's cadet and marine engineering programmes are about Shetland's future as islands surrounded and dependent on the sea.
"Merchant Navy day began in September 2000, providing an opportunity to remember the sacrifices of the seafarers of the past, to show appreciation for present day British shipping and to look ahead to the future of British shipping.
"The significance of the annual date on the 3rd September, which was also the date of Britain’s declaration of war in 1939, is the sinking of the SS Athenia which was the first UK ship sunk during the conflict. According to Shetland Library, Shetland lost a higher proportion of men than any other British county, obviously most acutely felt at sea. In one year of the conflict alone, 4,500 ships sailed from Lerwick. 248 of Shetland’s 357 war loses were Merchant Navy seamen.
"So Shetland has made an enormous contribution to the merchant navy over many decades. Today is an occasion to reflect on the past and look forward to the future and I am delighted to be part of this special day."