Which Day Celebrated Merchant Navy and Why?

Merchant Navy Day is a momentous occasion to express gratitude and recognise the seafarers’ hard work, dedication and persistence because of whom the world maritime trade continues to prosper and grow.

But before we delve deeper into which day the merchant navy celebrated, let’s understand what the merchant navy is and why it is so important.

Merchant Navy is a non-military service that describes commercial Shipping, which includes different kinds of ships, such as container ships, bulk carriers, tankers, ROROs, and cruise ships. These ships are designed and built differently to carry specific cargo.

For example, container ships are built to carry standard-size containers so they can be easily stacked on each other onboard the Ship.

Importance of Merchant Navy

More than 90 per cent of goods, services, and manufactured items are transported from one part of the world to the other onboard ships. Commercial shipping is a part of the global economy and a key component of the supply chain.

Hence, without commercial shipping, you won’t be able to buy your favourite brand of clothes or shoes manufactured in another country or eat your favourite food since the ingredients might not be available where you live.

However, this is not limited to only goods. There are ferries, passenger vessels, and cruise ships that are convenient. If a nation has rivers and inland waterways, these vessels are a cheaper alternative than roads or railways.

Apart from inland transportation, ships also aid in environmental research, surveys, and much more. Lastly, tugs guide and move or tow other ships into and out of harbours or ports. They are also used in emergencies if a vessel loses control or drifts.

On which day merchant navy celebrated is quite significant, and without modern vessels transporting cargo, we wouldn’t be living in a modern, interconnected world where everything is available to us. Commercial ShippingShippingntributes to the global and national economies of nations with vast coastlines and several ports.

On Which Day Merchant Navy Celebrated in the U.K.

This day merchant navy celebrated is marked to remember the brave merchant seafarers’ role in keeping the world’s maritime trade flowing smoothly so that people worldwide can fulfil their requirements, from the food we eat to the appliances we use.

This day is for the heroes who navigate the oceans and seas so others can have a comfortable life. It is also a day to celebrate the sacrifices of the merchant navy during the World Wars and to honour the country’s maritime heritage.

In today’s world, seafarers continue to be vital, facing life-threatening storms at sea yet continuing unabated. Their silent, steadfast service in the face of adversity is recognised today.

From facing dangerous situations at sea to feeling lonely and missing their family or unable to see land for days or months, they endure it so everyone can live a life of comfort and fulfilment.

Why is the Day of Merchant Navy Celebrated on September 3?

The U.K. decided to celebrate its Merchant Navy Day on September 3 2000. Why was this date chosen?

Well, it goes back to the advent of World War II, when Merchant Navy vessels began to support the war effort by transporting necessary supplies and other equipment, facing not only the relentless seas but also the dangers of a war.

On September 3 1939, SS Athenia became the first British Ship to be sunk during the Second World War. Around 117 passengers and crew died in the sinking, which was called a war crime. Among the dead, 28 were citizens of the U.S.; hence, Germany feared that the U.S. would join the war in support of France and the U.K., so it denied that none of its vessels had sunk the Athenia until 1946.

The merchant navy was the backbone of maritime trade during those difficult times. Though their contribution was not recognised immediately, it was appreciated years after continuous advocacy for their rights. Hence, now it is officially acknowledged.

Additionally, King George bestowed the title of Merchant Navy on British civilian vessels after their commendable service in World War I. Many other countries also adopted this title, as previously, the seafarers were referred to as Mercantile Marine or Merchant Service, although the term Merchant Navy was used informally from the 19th century onwards.

How is the Day of Merchant Navy Celebrated?

Raising the Red Ensign

This is a powerful symbolic gesture to respect and honour the seafarers. The Red Ensign is the emblem of the Merchant Navy and is flown on commercial ships. You can also display it at home, in the workplace, or in the community.

Spreading Awareness

One can take the initiative to learn about their nation’s maritime history and be mindful of their consumption habits. They can also spread the word on social media and honour the contributions of seafarers.

Attend or Organise Events

One can also attend events or organise them. They can check their local listings for Merchant Navy Day events such as exhibitions, talks, memorial services and parades. One can also host a seafarer-themed party where the guests can dress up as a famous maritime character. This is both fun and a learning experience for kids and adults.

Extend Support to Seafarer Charities

Many charities and organisations offer financial support to former seafarers and their families who are struggling. You can donate or volunteer to make a difference. If you know somebody who served in the Merchant Navy or is still a part of it, you can share their stories on social media or even express gratitude personally.

On Which Day Merchant Navy Celebrated USA

The U.S. celebrates its National Maritime Day on May 22 each year from 1933 onwards.

Ninety years ago, Congress announced this day to commemorate the voyage of the American Steamship S.S. Savannah from the U.S. to England, which she completed in 29 days and became the first steamship to cross the Atlantic.

During the Second World War, over 250,000 members of the American Merchant Marine served their nation, with over 6700 who gave up their lives, and hundreds ended up as war prisoners and died when enemies sank their ships.

Nonetheless, the Merchant Marine has been the foundation of maritime security and peace in the country. Maritime Day recognises one of the USA’s most important workforce, and ceremonies, celebrations, etc., are held in many regions to recognise their contributions.


September 3 is day as Merchant Navy celebrated in Australia to honour the Bravehearts of the country. It is also in recognition of their contribution to the economic growth and development of the country.


Beijing has celebrated July 11 as National Maritime Day since 2005. On this day in 1405, Zheng He of the Ming Dynasty led Chinese ships on voyages as far as America, 87 years before Christopher Colombus arrived in America.


April 5 has been celebrated as National Maritime Day since 1964 in India. This date was chosen as it was on this day in 1919 that S.S. Loyalty, the first Ship of Scindia Steam Navigation Company, sailed to the U.K.

The Philippines

Since 1996, September 27, or the last Friday of September, has been celebrated as National Maritime Day in the Philippines. Today, the authorities promote and develop national maritime policies and capabilities.

European Union

European Maritime Day falls on May 20. This day highlights the crucial role of oceans and seas in the lives of coastal communities and all E.U. citizens regarding sustainable development and employment.

On Which Day Merchant Navy Celebrated in Japan

Since 1996, Japan has celebrated July 20 as Marine Day. On this day, Emperor Meiji returned from a boat trip to the nation’s northernmost island of Hokkaido in 1876.


May 26 is Canada’s Marine Day, which celebrates its maritime industry, past, present, and future.


Merchant Navy Day is an occasion to celebrate, recognise, and express gratitude to the maritime community. They work despite all odds to ensure the smooth running of the world’s maritime trade and global supply chains. They are the pillars of this world and vital to the global economy. Because of their countless sacrifices, people’s lives are much easier and more comfortable.

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