Hastings Borough Council marked Merchant Navy Day on Thursday September 3 by flying the Red Ensign flag from the Town Hall.
Immediate Past Mayor, Cllr Alan Roberts, gave a special reading.
Tracy Hobden, from the Council, explained: “Since the beginning of this century, September 3 has been the UK’s officially designated Merchant Navy Day.
“The date was chosen because on that date in 1939, the first day of WW2, SS Athenia was the first merchant ship to be torpedoed and sunk with the loss of 128 passengers and crew.
“The UK’s prosperity has been dependant on the Merchant Navy since the start of international trade but only during the two World Wars did the British public realise that without the merchant ships and brave seafarers the UK would soon be starved of food and denied other essential supplies.
“In recent years the UK’s dependency on the Merchant Navy has increased. More than 90% of our imports are carried by ship, including half the food we eat.
“Without regular fuel imports our power stations would soon shut down and with more sea ports than any other European country we depend on the Merchant Navy for 75% of our exports.”
Hastings is one of 400 local authorities to take part in the commemoration.
The Merchant Navy Fund has been set up to help UK Merchant Navy seafarers and their families.
Since its launch in 2012, the Merchant Navy Fund has helped hundreds of Merchant Navy ex-seafarers. Grants administered by Seafarers UK have been paid to charities that required funding to provide these services.
For details visit www. merchantnavyfund.org.
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