The loss of the aged torpedo boat S 2 in a storm autumn 1925 was a shock to Finland and its naval circles. It was also the starting point to the establishing of the Finnish Navy Association, today Finnish Maritime Society. The idea of the Association became sort of national movement and local Navy Associations were established around the country. They all had the same idea; the young independent country should have a decent navy of its own.

The importance of the information was acknowledged and the newly established ”Laivastolehti” (Navy Magazine) was chosen as the organ of information. The magazine is still published today under the name ”Navigator”. The young association succeeded in its task so well that the new Navy Act was accepted by the parliament in 1927. According to the Act two mini battle ships, four submarines as well as four motor torpedo boats were ordered. The construction of these ships in Finland had a great influence in the employment of the Finnish shipyards during the depression in the 1930s. When the World War II broke out Finland had a smallish but modern navy.

After war the Finnish Navy Society, which was the new name of the Association adopted in 1931, changed its activities towards the development of the merchant fleet. In the 1950s the activities were especially concentrated to attract young people to participate in the functions. The activities included special Navy Days during which youngsters had the possibility to get acquainted with naval ships. Another activity was the boys’ sea camps during the years 1947-1965 and as a direct outcome of those camps were the youth sailings which started in 1964. Building of miniature models of ships was also offered as a special hobby. The youth sailing became so expansive that it was reasonable to separate that activity from the Finnish Maritime Association, a new name again adopted in 1970. Thus the Sail Training Association Finland was created in 1973. The Assoiation’s schooner M/Y ” Helena” has a well established role in the youth sailing activities. The cooperation between the Maritime Society and the Sail Training Association has been and still is very close.

A fairly new activitity are exhibitions of ship models the past and present. These exhibitions have been met with great interest by the public.

In the early 1980s, the idea arose in the Board of the Finnish Maritime Society to introduce a special honorary award as recognition of major achievements for increasing knowledge and appreciation of maritime culture. The result was the Maritime Achievement- Honorary Award, which has been awarded regularly since 1986.

The luncheon meetings began in 1992. The meetings are arranged one to three times yearly and they are basically intended for the members but there is also a long list of invited guests from as well in merchant shipping, navy, ministries and various authorities. There has been a great variety of speakers from many different areas of economy and politics. The occations and their actual topics have always gained great interest.

The Maritime Society has also been active in publishing. The best known works are ”Meri ja Me” (The Sea and Us) in 1962 and ”Suomi ja Meri” (Finland and the Sea) in 1981. The four volume work ”Suomen merikirjallisuuden bibliografia” (The Bibliography of the Finnish Maritime Literature”) came out in the years 1963-1981. In 1994 The Maritime Society took part in outlining the English yearbook ”Navigator, the Yearbook of Finnish Maritime Industry”. The Yearbook is still published by the ”Navigator”. The latest publication is the 75-year history ”From Navy Association to Maritime Society”, which came out in 2001.

The activities of the Society during the past decades have been significant in the development of both the Finnish Navy and the Merchant fleet. Also the information about the maritime professions, the education and the promotion of the interests connected with the sea has been of utmost importance.

Times change and the Maritime Society too but the Society’s target is to combine the tradition and modernization and on its part to promote the idea of ”Navigare necesse est”.