3 September 2018



KNOWN as Merchant Navy Day, today recognises Australian service and civilian personnel who served on merchant vessels for more than a century.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said merchant mariners had served in times of war and conflict, transporting service personnel, supplies and equipment across dangerous seas and oceans.

“Vessels in the merchant navy were often defenceless and their work perilous with the constant threat of attack from enemy submarines, surface raiders, aircraft and mines,” Mr Chester said.

“I encourage all Australians to pause and reflect on the contribution of our merchant mariners, almost all of whom were civilians, and to reflect on their service and sacrifice.”

Merchant Navy Day falls on 3 September each year, the anniversary of the sinking of the first British merchant vessel in the Second World War in 1939.

“Earlier this year Australia commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Atlantic, possibly the most well-known battle involving merchant mariners that lasted almost the entire duration of the Second World War.

“The Battle of the Atlantic was fought over thousands of miles across the war’s most dangerous shipping lanes. More than 3,000 British and Allied ships were sunk and some 30,000 Allied and merchant mariners were lost.”

While the exact figure will never be known, the Australian War Memorial considers that more than 800 merchant mariners have lost their lives in all wars.


Whil Prendergast: 02 6277 7820
DVA Media: 02 6289 6466

Office of the Hon. Darren Chester MP, Canberra.


Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.



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