The Merchant Navy and
The aim of this paper is to provide a common, agreed and endorsed definition of UK Merchant Seafarers who form part of the Armed Forces Community.
The Armed Forces Community
The Armed Forces Community, as currently defined by the MOD, comprises individuals currently serving as members of HM Armed Forces, including the UK Reserve Forces; their families; widows/widowers; veterans and their dependants.
Qualification by Conflict
World Wars I & II. Although there are no known merchant seafarers now alive from World War I, their retrospective status as veterans may still be appreciated by their descendants. All merchant seafarers and fishermen serving aboard any
Other Conflicts post 1945. Those legally defined military operations recognised by the UK Government as those in which the Merchant fleet supported the military included, but are not limited to,
Proof of Service
While mercantile marine records are not comparable with those held on behalf of the UK Armed Forces, British merchant seafarers normally have Discharge Books which contain details of the vessels in which they served including the dates. The names and dates of those ships that sailed into the operational zones are retained in the records held by the MCA’s Registry of Shipping and Seamen. The Royal Naval Historical Archive holds online records, and the Merchant Navy Association and the Federation of Merchant Mariners also keep an expanding database of those qualifying personnel who have been awarded the Merchant Navy Veterans badge. Ships’ Articles, crew lists and discharge books can also provide supporting evidence. Thus, proof of service is based on confirmation of the individual’s ship discharge record and that ship’s service in support of
Royal Fleet Auxiliary
RFA personnel are merchant seafarers employed by MOD (Navy) entirely to support the UK Armed Forces. All those with RFA service are already considered as HM Armed Forces Veterans in accordance with existing arrangements and as such will continue to apply to the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency for the HM Armed Forces Veterans Badge.
It is therefore concluded that, exceptionally, those civilians forming part of the veterans element of the Armed Forces Community are those who have served in commercial vessels supporting the UK Armed Forces on legally defined military operations. The actual size of this community is presently unknown, but further studies will be undertaken by MN organisations to establish numbers more accurately. Given that the definition of an Armed Forces veteran is any person who has served in the Forces of the Crown and includes those with RFA service, it follows that a comparable definition for a
‘Anyone who has served on a commercial vessel at a time when it was operated to facilitate legally defined
and these personnel be called “UK Merchant Seafaring Veterans”.
The COBSEO Executive has agreed the above definition of a UK Merchant Seafaring Veteran, recognising that subsequent work is needed to identify the numbers of qualified seafarers entitled to such definition. It is recommended that the Ministry of Defence accepts that definition and endorses its official use.
1st November 2009
The vast majority of RFA Personnel receive campaign medals awarded to them whilst they are still serving. If, however an individual leaves the Service before the medal can be issued, it is the responsibility of the individual to claim the medals owed from the Ministry of Defence Medal Office.
Medals that are being claimed for the first time are usually issued free of charge, and this also applies to Legal Next of Kin who are claiming medals for a deceased father or Mother, etc, who was entitled to a particular medal or medals but left the service for some reason before the medals could be issued, please contact the medal office to find out how to claim these medals.
To claim medals you will need to supply some very comprehensive information, this data is needed to verify who you are and if you are entitled to the medals. Information required will be Service Number (Discharge Book Number) Corps (Royal Fleet Auxiliary or STO (N)), your full name, your rank or rate on discharge, your date of discharge and finally your home address details.
Claiming for medals can take a while as there is usually a backlog of applications, but all claims are dealt with strictly in rotation, and the Medal Office aims to get your medals to you as quickly as possible, so please be patient.
If you have lost medals that were issued to you for service with the RFA, then you cannot get replacements from the MOD, except if they were stolen or accidentally destroyed beyond the control of the owner, you will need to contact the medal office to check this.
To contact the medal office, please use one of the following:
Free Phone: 0800 085 3600
Fax: 0141 224 3586
Service Personnel and Veterans Agency
MOD Medal Office,
For those who have lost medals and wish to replace them, then there are a number of specialised Medal Dealers who will sell you a replacement, listed below are two of the better known, though it should be noted that the Editors of this site do not promote these companies or endorse their products.
Bigbury Mint www.bigburymint.com
Award Productions www.awardmedals.com