Nautilus International is urging the UK government to ensure the merchant navy is not forgotten as it announces a new boost to military spending.
Prime minister Boris Johnson recently announced that the armed forces will receive an extra £16.5 billion over four years, on top of an existing commitment by his government to increase military spending by 0.5% over inflation annually. This is projected to be the biggest rise since the end of the Cold War.
However, despite pledging to use the money to 'restore Britain's position as the foremost naval power in Europe' through a British-based shipbuilding programme for the Royal Navy, the prime minister did not mention the merchant navy.
‘The merchant navy is essentially the fourth pillar of our armed forces,' Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said. 'Our Merchant Navy is important for our national security and resilience as a maritime nation and our merchant seafarers have kept the country supplied during some of the darkest periods in our history. In the present day they provide vital maritime services and make an often-unrecognised contribution to the UK economy, as well as ensuring that we are prepared against unforeseen challenges.
'We are calling on the government to ensure that they do not overlook the role of the merchant navy and its contribution to the nation’s security and maritime resilience. Further investment is crucial if the UK is to maintain and grow the UK flag and UK seafarers, and is especially important for attracting and training the next generation of maritime professionals.'