“Train more Merchant Navy ratings to increase UK jobs and careers for young people”


President of the UK Chamber of Shipping, Kenneth MacLeod, has today called for shipping companies in the UK’s Tonnage Tax system to be allowed to train Merchant Navy ratings as part of their training commitment under the regime – to boost employment and careers for young people in the UK.

Shipping companies can apply to be part of the Tonnage Tax regime – a system of taxation that allows UK shipping to be internationally competitive. Being part of tonnage tax means that shipping companies must train one new officer cadet annually for every 15 officers they employ. Merchant Navy ratings are the support staff on board a ship – they are skilled seafarers who work in the deck, engine, catering or communications departments on all different types of ships.
President Kenneth MacLeod said:

“The UK Chamber has long believed that changes are needed to include the training of ratings as one of the options for fulfilling the UK Tonnage Tax training commitment. 

“I went to sea as a junior rating, working in the galley on a Clyde steamer, and that gave me a taste for life in the Merchant Navy.

“I want others to have the same opportunities for training that I had, so that we can boost the numbers of UK ratings and give more young people the chance of a career at sea.”

The UK Chamber President has written to the Shipping Minister asking for changes to allow UK ratings to be formally included as an option in the Tonnage Tax training commitment. Previous discussions between industry, Government and trade unions supported a new provision for companies to be able to take on three trainee ratings per 15 officers, as a another option alongside the one cadet per 15 currently included in the scheme. These proposals were put forward some years ago jointly by the UK Chamber, Nautilus UK and RMT, but since then talks have stalled.

Kenneth MacLeod said:

”The UK Chamber has for a long time said that it will do all it can to help move discussions on the tonnage tax training commitment forward quickly and successfully, but it is time for this also to be taken up actively by the seafaring unions, particularly the RMT.   

“At a time of continued youth unemployment, it is vital to make this work both for the success of the industry and of the future workforce.”   

“Demand for quality UK ratings exists particularly in the off-shore and ferry sectors, and the tools within tonnage tax remain the best mechanism available to widen training opportunities and meet this demand.”


For further information please contact Gemma Wilkie, PR Manager at the UK Chamber of Shipping on 020 7417 2834 or gwilkie@ukchamberofshipping.com

Notes to Editors

About Tonnage Tax

The tonnage tax is a tax regime for shipping companies which allows the UK to operate competitively within an international market. Such regimes have been widely adopted across the globe and have express approval by the EU authorities. Shipping companies that join the UK tonnage tax regime also commit to sponsor and train one new officer trainee annually for every 15 officers they employ. There is currently no formal commitment to train ratings.

According to the most recent figures, the increase in shipping business in the UK as a result of the Tonnage Tax is directly responsible for the creation of 38,000 jobs in the past 13 years, and an additional £4.4bn contribution to GDP.

About the UK Chamber of Shipping

  • The UK Chamber of Shipping is the trade association for the UK shipping industry, working to promote and protect the interests of its members both nationally and internationally. With around 140 members from across the maritime sector, the UK Chamber represents over 925 ships of about 30 million gross tons and is recognised as the voice of the UK shipping industry. 
  • UK shipping has a turnover of over £11bn. With indirect effects, UK shipping’s contribution to UK GDP is £13bn.
  • The UK Chamber is the home of the Merchant Navy Training Board - the shipping industry’s central body for promoting and developing seafarer education, training and skills, and provides MNTB administration and staffing arrangements.
  • The UK Chamber is a member of Maritime UK, which brings together the major associations representing the UK’s the shipping, ports and maritime business services sectors. 
  • The UK Chamber is a lead partner in Sea Vision, the nationwide campaign working to raise awareness of the sea and the maritime sector, particularly amongst young people aged between 13 and 22 years old.
For more information on UK Shipping, please go to: www.ukchamberofshipping.com.