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Retirement planning

In the UK, Nautilus has been involved in the creation and oversight of Merchant Navy pension schemes ever since the Union joined with employers to establish the Merchant Navy Officers’ Pension Fund (MNOPF) in the 1930s.

The MNOPF and its counterpart, the Merchant Navy Ratings' Pension Fund, are now closed to new members. Smart Pension Master Trust, effective 1 April 2023, now operates in the maritime pension space (a Defined Contribution pension scheme). Defined Contribution (or DC) pension schemes involve a contribution from an employer as well as from the member. In addition, many seafarers have access to a scheme run by their own employer.

Nautilus is involved in the governance of the closed industry-wide schemes through representation on bodies such as the Joint Officers' Pensions Committee, or by acting as a trustee for the schemes. Pension assistance and information can be requested through the Nautilus Pensions Association (NPA) by emailing

Details of the pension scheme you are eligible to join can be obtained from your employer or the Nautilus organiser dealing with your company. The UK industry-wide schemes are outlined below, along with other useful pensions information.

For information on pension options for maritime and inland waterways professionals in the Netherlands and Switzerland, please go to the NL and CH branch pages of this site.

Merchant Navy Officers' Pension Fund (MNOPF)- closed

The MNOPF was founded on 1 January 1938 and has provided benefits to its members for over 85 years. Most of today's retired British Merchant Navy officers receive their pensions from this scheme.

The MNOPF had two sections: Old (closed to new members on 5 April 1978) and New (from April 1978 – closed from 31 March 2016). The Old Section is now fully insured and pensions are the responsibility of the insurer/s. The New Section is closed. The New Section is a defined benefit scheme, based on career average salary, meaning that members are guaranteed a certain level of income on retirement, based on individual service and salary history.

Administration of the MNOPF has, since 2014, been carried out by JLT, and before that Ensign Pensions Administration Ltd. There is further information about the scheme on the MNOPF website, or members can email or call the dedicated helpline on +44 (0)1372 200200.

Smart Pension Master Trust

Smart Pension Master Trust (Smart Pension) operates within the maritime space after Ensign Retirement Plan (ERP) transferred to Smart. Smart is a Defined Contribution pension scheme - this require members and their employers to pay into a fund which is invested in stocks, gilt-edged securities, and other investment vehicles. When members retire, their pension pot is used to provide benefits such as buying an annuity which provides a regular income or using pension flexibilities (after age 55) such as drawdown arrangements. The size of the pension pot is dependent on employer and member contributions, as well as investment performance, and is therefore not guaranteed.

More information about Smart Pension can be found by visiting this website


Under pension legislation which came into force in 2015, UK employers are required to ensure employees are automatically enrolled in a pension scheme which complies with minimum requirements. For seafarers the position is complex, due to employment arrangements in the industry. However, the MNOPF and Smart Pension comply with the current legislation.

Independent financial advice

Nautilus members should seek independent advice on pension issues as these are often the largest financial decision members will deal with. General information can be sought from the Nautilus Pensions Association at, but Nautilus is not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to provide financial advice.

Members can take advantage of a free no obligation consultation on financial advice through Lighthouse Financial via the members' deals and discounts service Nautilus Plus. To arrange your complimentary consultation, log into My Nautilus.

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