In response to the impact of Covid-19 on the maritime heritage sector, National Historic Ships UK has made a significant change to its Flagship of the Year scheme.

Usually reflecting the cruising programme or visitor numbers of each craft, applications for ‘virtual flagships’ have been taken in recognition of the fact that many historic vessels have had to cease operations, cancel or postpone events through circumstances beyond their control.

The Flagship Awards provide an opportunity to demonstrate and celebrate the value of the sector during these challenging times.

The 2020 Flagships have been selected for their tenacity in continuing to raise their profile throughout the Covid-19 outbreak by online activities, social media, developing learning resources, offering virtual tours and other creative means.

Hannah Cunliffe, Director of National Historic Ships UK, commented: “I am delighted that we are able to offer these Awards again as a means of supporting the sector at a time when it needs our help most.

“The creativity and resilience these vessels have shown in developing new online engagement packages to meet the current situation has been impressive and I look forward to working with them all in the months ahead.”

The Flagships receive grants of £500 and £250 respectively to be spent on the vessel or related digital activities and a special broad pennant to fly at the masthead once the ship is active again.


The 2020 National Flagship is:

HMS Belfast, Museum Ship


The 2020 Regional Flagships are:

Medway Queen (South East), Paddle Steamer

Zebu (North West), Tall Ship

ss Explorer (Scotland East), Research Vessel

Spartan (Scotland West), Museum Ship

For more information on our winning entries visit


Six issues for £18

Subscribe to Ships Monthly magazine and receive your first 6 issues for just £18!