Fears about Brexit have resulted in the announcement by P&O Ferries to re-flag their vessels in Malta. This has been followed on by the largest shipping company in the world, Maersk, is also lowering the Red Ensign from any of its vesslels registered in the UK.

Worse still is that the Danish giant has decided not to employ any more British cadets. Instead Maersk will use trainees from Denmark and India. In the past many British cadets, as well as those from South Africa and the Philippines have joined the company.

The seamen’s union Nautilus is rightly very concerned about this move and says that the number of UK seafarers today is a mere 23,000 as opposed to 66,000 in 1977.

Nautilus however is warning that the continuing decline in the number of British seafarers and UK-flagged vessels is putting the nation’s economic security at risk and could leave it dependent on other countries for many essential goods and services.

Nautilus general secretary, Mark Dickinson, said: “The news coming out of Maersk is deeply concerning for the future of the UK maritime industry, especially in light of the recent announcement from P&O and rumours that CMA-CGM is also set to leave the UK register. Brexit has already put UK seafarer certificates at risk and the ongoing uncertainty is forcing the hand of large businesses, it has created a perfect storm, threatening the current and future employment of UK-based workers. “As an island nation, we rely on shipping and seafarers for 95% of everything we consume, and our workers need support to ensure they have training opportunities, decent jobs and career progression”.

I totally agree with him. Something needs to be done to stop this loss of seafarers.

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