Merchant Navy crew paid a price twice over

From: John Springer, Ivy Bank Close, Ingbirchworth, Penistone.

JAYNE Dowle’s article on remembrance of services (Yorkshire Post, August 21) rendered by those gone before us in times past made me think of those we hardly remember adequately because we are unaware of their true service.

One of these is the Merchant Navy. This service worked, and works, alongside the Royal Navy. There was no recognition of its service in both major conflicts until the recent introduction of Merchant Navy Day (September 16 this year).

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What many people do not know is that the terms of service under which the crews worked were different. For instance, a merchant ship attacked in convoy is sinking. The rescue vessel (RN) comes alongside and either plucks a merchant seaman out of the water or helps him off his vessel. From that moment, neither the merchant sailor nor his dependants will receive any pay or allowances. He signed articles that he would be paid for the duration of his ship’s voyage. There is no ship.

Should the RN vessel be sunk and our sailor and one of the RN men who helped him be rescued by a merchantman, the RN sailor and his dependants receive his pay and allowances. He signed on for three or more years service in the Royal Navy, not aboard a particular vessel. There is still nothing for the merchantman until he has signed articles for a new ship.

Merchant Navy crews taken ashore by Somali pirates are not carrying out their duties. Are they and their dependents being paid?