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. There is now one UK industry-wide maritime pension scheme open to new members: the Ensign Retirement Plan. This involves 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 industry-wide schemes (both open and closed) through representation on bodies such as the Joint Officers' Pensions Committee, or by acting as a trustee for the schemes. All contributors, deferred members or pensioners in the MNOPF or Ensign Retirement Plan schemes can seek assistance through the Nautilus Pensions Association (NPA).

Details of the pension scheme you are eligible to join can be obtained from your employer or the Nautilus official 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)

The MNOPF was founded on 1 January 1938 and has provided benefits to its members for over 75 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.

Ensign Retirement Plan (ERP)

The ERP is a defined contribution scheme, meaning that members and their employers pay into a fund which is invested in stocks, gilt-edged securities etc. When members retire, their pension pot is used to provide benefits such as buying an annuity which provides a regular income, or using the new pension flexibilities (after age 55). The size of the pension pot is dependent on employer and member contributions and investment performance, and is not guaranteed.

The ERP took over from a similar pension scheme, the Merchant Navy Officers' Pension Plan (MNOPP) in 2016, and most MNOPP members were automatically transferred to the ERP.

Administration of the ERP is carried out by Black Rock. There is more information about the scheme on the ERP 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 the ERP comply with the current legislation.

Independent financial advice

Nautilus members should seek 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 seeking independent financial advice should contact a registered independent financial advisor such as:

Russell Warman
Chadney Bulgin LLP
Tel: +44 (0)1252 788888
Fax: +44 (0)1252 786459

Members can also 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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