Ahead of Merchant Navy Day on Sunday 3 September Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council has raised the Red Ensign Flag, the official flag of Britain's Merchant Navy, as a mark of respect.

‘Fly the Red Ensign’ is an annual campaign run by The Seafarers’ Charity to honour the men and women who kept the UK afloat during both World Wars as well as celebrate modern-day merchant seafarers.

The national day harks back to 1939, with September 3 designated as Merchant Navy Day, in commemoration of the 128 passengers and crew of the British merchant vessel SS Athenia which was torpedoed just a few hours after war was declared on Germany in 1939.

The day later became enshrined to honour the bravery of those seafarers during both World Wars, and to raise awareness of the UK’s ongoing dependence on Merchant Navy seafarers.

His Worshipful the Mayor, Councillor Andrew Gowan, Mayor of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council welcomed guests and said: “The contribution that seafarers – both past and present – have made to our lives is profound. I’m proud to play a part in recognising this day by flying the Red Ensign.

Seafarers of the Merchant Navy are often unsung, so it’s fitting that this annual day causes us to pause and consider their courage and sacrifice, both in conflict and during peacetime.

Today, there are approximately 80,000 men and women currently working at sea. They continue to bring in over 90% of our imports, keeping our shops, chemists, and supermarkets supplied.”

The Mayor was joined by the Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim Mr David McCorkell, the High Sheriff for County Antrim Mr Peter Thomas Watts Mackie, the Mayor’s Chaplain Mr Danny Roberts, Chief Executive of LCCC David Burns, Elected Members, LCCC Directors and Lagan Valley MLAs as well as members of the Lisburn Sea Cadets.

The flag will fly until dusk on Sunday 3 September.