National Maritime Day

Americans celebrate National Maritime Day annually on May 22. This holiday commemorates the maritime industry’s contribution to the country, including prominent sailors and other types of seafarers along with ships that have played a significant role in historical sea events.

Communities all over the country celebrate with maritime-related events such as ceremonies at maritime memorials and festivals that take place near the ocean, on ships, or on sea ports. Concerts, luncheons, dinners and other commemorations may also take place. Some museums organize special maritime themed exhibits.

The holiday typically honors civilian maritime workers, but military maritime personnel are often included as well. A significant event that many celebrations honor is the American Merchant Marine’s efforts during World War II. Over 250,000 members of this fleet of merchant vessels served as an extension of the Navy, with more than 6700 casualties, 800 sunken ships and hundreds of Prisoners of War.

Holiday History

The date of National Maritime day honors the day that the Savannah, an American steamship, began its voyage from Savannah, Georgia to England. This was the first steamship to complete a trans-ocean voyage. In commemoration, Congress established May 22 as National Maritime Day in 1933. The President typically issues a formal proclamation every year for celebration of the holiday. The image of anchors has been historically used to symbolize the holiday.

Maritime Industry Facts:

  • More than 90% of world trading is done via maritime shipping.
  • The maritime industry employs more than 1.2 million people. This does not include maritime workers that work on land, such as ship mechanics and dock workers.
  • It is considered the most energy-efficient method of shipping besides railroads.

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