An inaugural meeting was held on 25th November 2014 attended by representatives of local and national institutions connected with the Merchant Navy to consider the possibility of erecting a new monument dedicated to those who serve in, or who have served in, the British merchant fleet.
The first formal meeting of the steering committee was held on March 10th, 2015 and that committee met regularly to further the project.
The following was adopted as a formal Mission Statement:
�The objective of the project is to commission a monument to be sited on Plymouth Hoe alongside those of the armed services. It will be dedicated to all those who serve in, or who have served in, the British Merchant Navy or Fishing Fleet in times of peace and war ensuring the survival of our nation.�
Almost everything that those living in the UK own or use, be it food, fuel, clothing, cars, and almost every thing else, has travelled into the UK by sea either as raw material or ready manufactured.
Without any seafarers ships would not sail.
Without ships there would be no food or goods in the shops, no cars and the essentials for life would disappear.
Without ships there would be no fuel for public transport (including air travel), no fuel for the pumps that supply water or gas to our homes and no generation equipment for electricity.
Without ships there would be no medicines, no working hospitals, and few ways to maintain the country's economy.
Without ships there would be no undersea cables for the internet and telecommunications.
As many are aware, there already is a MN memorial in Plymouth, close to the Barbican.
This is difficult to find and quite small.
It is set into a wall across from the Mayflower Steps alongside a busy road, with narrow sloping pavements.
There was a conflict between those attending and the passing traffic when services are held there, such as on Merchant Navy Day and Remembrance Day.
In the past, traffic, including local bus and tour coaches, as well as business and private vehicles, were held up for significant periods of time.
Whilst this memorial will remain in situ, the aim was to erect a monument in a location that would be easier to find, more visually appropriate and in a venue where congregations could gather safely and without hindrance to others.
In continuing discussions with Plymouth City Council a possible site on Plymouth Hoe was identified.
In order to visually fit in with the present monuments on The Hoe, a monument similar in size and shape to the RAF and Allied AirForce Monument that was erected to the east of other monuments and unveiled in 1989 was deemed to be most suitable.
The target date was to have the monument unveiled on MN Day 2020.
In the event it was possible to complete the project a year early, which given the Covid19 pandemic was fortuitous.
The committee members represented a broad cross section of the maritime community associated with both local and national bodies,
including, amongst others, The Merchant Navy Association, Plymouth & SW Merchant Seafarers Association, Seafarers UK,
The Nautical Institute, The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, The South West Company of Mariners,
The Watch Ashore, the RFA Association and Plymouth University,as well as the fishing community.
The committee communicated with many other interested parties, such as local Harbourmasters, RNLI, national and international shipping companies and the Royal Navy, as well as Plymouth City Council.
The Committee was chaired by Vivien Foster OBE, National President of the Merchant Navy Association, who lives in the South West.