The UK’s Reliance on Seafarers

Seafarers Awareness Week 2018 will start 23 June, coordinated and promoted by Seafarers UK. This year the focus is on UK maritime employment opportunities, including shore-based jobs, with an emphasis on engineering – one sector in which the Royal Navy, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Commercial Shipping are currently struggling to recruit people.

The maritime industry is one of the most important for the UK, as an estimated 95% of imports arrive by ship, including much of our everyday food and fuel. Regardless of this dependency many people are completely unaware of the essential role of the shipping industry, the seafarers who work in it, and the importance of our sea ports.

To give you an insight into the maritime industry, here are some interesting facts you may not know about:


The UK’s most valuable food export is chocolate: £571m exported every year.


The UK imports 565,000 tonnes of potatoes every year, the equivalent to 38,750 London buses!


A large cargo ship contains as much steel as 8 Eiffel Towers and has a capacity equivalent to 22,000 20-foot containers. Those containers would fill more than 30 trains each a mile long and stacked two containers high. Inside them you could fit 863 million tins of baked beans.


A single 20-foot container can hold approximately 48,000 bananas and the average container vessel can carry 746 million in a single voyage.That’s enough to give everyone in Europe and North America a banana for breakfast. 


The UK’s sea ports handle over half a billion tonnes of goods a year. That’s more than 8 tonnes or a small lorry load for each person in the UK.


65 million seafarers are employed by the global shipping industry.


120,000 people from the UK work at sea.


As an island nation the UK relies on shipping for 95% of its imports and exports.


The average container ship will travel three quarters of the way to the moon every year during its trip across the oceans.


Many Merchant Navy seafarers work at sea for more than 9 months every year.


Seafarers UK gives grants totalling £2.5 million to other maritime charities and projects every year.




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