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The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel

MEDIA RELEASE

2 September 2019

The role of our merchant mariners remembered

Australians have served on board merchant vessels for more than a century and tomorrow on Merchant Navy Day, we thank them for their service.

Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester is encouraging the nation to reflect on the important role merchant mariners have played, often in the face of danger and under challenging circumstances.

"Merchant Navy ships and their crew have been responsible for transporting valuable cargo and personnel during wars and conflicts," Mr Chester said.

"Unlike other warships, they didn't have the same defensive capabilities, leaving themselves exposed to attack from the enemy whether in foreign waters or closer to the Australian coastline."

Merchant Navy Day is commemorated each year on 3 September, the anniversary of the sinking of the first British merchant vessel during the war, and this year it falls on the 80th anniversary of when Australia entered the Second World War.

"The Second World War is also remembered for arguably the most well-known battle involving merchant mariners — the Battle of the Atlantic. Much closer to home, merchant ships also came under attack along the Australian coastline," Mr Chester said.

"More than 800 Australian merchant mariners are estimated to have tragically died serving the Allied cause during the First and Second World Wars. Today we honour their memory and that of their fellow mariners who so bravely carried out their duties.

"Australia says thank you for your service on the water and the legacy you have left us with today."

ENDS

Media contacts:

Rachel Tharratt: 02 6277 7820
DVA Media: 02 6289 6466

Office of the Hon Darren Chester, Canberra ACT

Open Arms — Veterans and Families Counselling provides support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Free and confidential help is available 24/7. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 1800 011 046 or +61 8 8241 4546) or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au