The Maritime Professional Council (MPC) of the UK notes with concern the termination of the employment of 800 UK seafarers employed by P&O Ferries and the detrimental impact this has on the reputation of the industry as a whole.

The MPC wishes to highlight the blow the loss of these seagoing posts will have on the ongoing efforts to increase the number of UK seafarers and maintain Britain’s position as a significant maritime nation. At a stroke, it undermines the UK Maritime Strategy.

While the MPC recognises that most UK officers will serve on ships registered outside the UK, now is the time to consider urgently what further policy measures could be put in place to retain a core fleet of UK-manned ships. Maintaining such a fleet is needed to, among other things, enable junior officers to gain sea experience for their higher certificates and maintain a credible maritime skill-base. Equally, action needs to be taken so that the already small number of UK ratings does not diminish further.

The high-profile events at P&O Ferries will inevitably be damaging to the reputation of the Merchant Navy as a well-respected career. It will make it much harder to recruit high-calibre entrants to the shipping industry. If nothing is done, this terrible episode for those losing their jobs will have a long-lasting impact on our industry far beyond the immediate fall-out at P&O.

The MPC urges that swift action be taken to address these serious issues.