The pure car and truck carrier `Topeka’ was flagged to the Red Ensign on Saturday, August 12th as part of the vessel’s naming ceremony - making it the fifth vessel in the Wilhelmsen Lines Car Carrier fleet to come under the UK Flag in recent months.

The ‘Topeka’ joins its sister ships ‘Toronto,’ `Toledo’ and `Torrens, ‘along with the ‘Morning Concert,’ which was flagged-in at the end of July.

The 61321GT ‘Topeka’ was constructed at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries shipyard in Japan, under Norwegian and DNV regulations. The pre-flagging survey and inspection was undertaken by a senior MCA Surveyor in Southampton where the crews’ competency and ability to work with the vessel’s life saving and safety equipment was tested.

John Astbury, Chief Executive of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, said after the flagging-in ceremony that he was delighted with the rise in UK and foreign owners registering with the UK Flag.

Taking a long-term strategic view of the importance of our shipping and wider maritime-related industries to Britain, he said, “Ninety-five percent of UK trade is carried in ships and the value of trade related to shipping - including management, legal and insurance services - contributes significantly to the UK economy.

“The industry earns ‘322 per second for the UK economy and for the first time in over ten years it outstripped air transport to become third in the services sector in terms of export earning at ‘7.1 billion

“In the past five years, the commercial shipping fleet owned and managed in the UK has more than doubled in carrying capacity - and the UK-flagged fleet has more than quadrupled. Large numbers of ships pass by our coasts, almost as many use our ports, making the UK both a Coastal and Port State.”