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Encyclopedia > Naval jack

Flags are particularly important at sea, where they can mean the difference between life and death, and consequently where the rules and regulations for the flying of flags are strictly enforced. Flags (and pennants) are flown for signalling and for identification.

Contents


Ensigns

Ensigns are national maritime flags flown by ships, at the stern, from a gaff, or from the yard-arm. In some countries (e.g., the United Kingdom or Australia) there are distinct naval and merchant ensigns, while in other countries (e.g., the United States or France) the merchant and naval ensigns are identical to the national flag flown on land. An ensign is a distinguishing token, emblem, badge, or flag such as a symbol of office. ... A national flag is a flag which symbolises a country and which can usually be flown by citizens of that country. ...


Ensigns are usually required to be flown when entering and leaving harbour, when sailing through foreign waters, and when the ship is signalled to do so by a warship. Warships usually fly their ensigns between the morning colours ceremony and sunset, when underway, and at all times when engaged in battle.


Etiquette

The position of honour on a ship is the quarterdeck at the stern of the ship, and thus ensigns are traditionally flown either from an ensign staff at the ship's stern, or from a gaff rigged over the stern. Nowadays when a ship is at sea the ensign is often shifted to the starboard yardarm. It should be noted that the usual rule that no flag should be flown higher than the national flag does not apply on board a ship: a flag flown at the stern is always in a superior position to a flag flown elsewhere on the ship, even if the latter is higher up.


Nautical etiquette requires that merchant vessels dip their ensigns in salute to passing warships, which acknowledge the salute by dipping their ensigns in return. Contrary to popular belief the United States Navy does dip the Stars and Stripes in acknowledgement of salutes rendered to it. Merchant vessels also traditionally fly the ensign of the nation in whose territorial waters they are sailing at the masthead or yard-arm. The flying of a ship's ensign upside-down is a mark of distress. The flying of two ensigns of two different countries, one above the other, on the same staff is a sign that the vessel concerned has been captured or has surrendered during wartime. The ensign flying in the inferior, or lower, position is that of the country the ship has been captured from: conversely, the ensign flying in the superior, or upper position, is that of the country that has captured the ship. The United States Navy (USN) is the branch of the United States armed forces responsible for naval operations. ... Flag ratio: 10:19; nicknames: Stars and Stripes, Old Glory The flag of the United States consists of 13 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; there is a blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing 50 small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in...


Jacks

Jacks are additional national flags flown by warships (and certain other vessels) at the head of the ship. These are usually flown only when not underway and when the ship is dressed on special occasions. In the Royal Navy the Union Jack at sea serves both as a naval jack and as the rank flag of an Admiral of the Fleet. It is illegal for a merchant ship or yacht to fly the Union Jack: a civilian jack (sometimes known as the pilot jack as it was formerly used to request a pilot) exists, and consists of the Union Jack with a white border. The St George's Cross flown from the jack staff is known as the Dunkirk jack, and is customarily flown by ships and boats which took part in the Dunkirk rescue operation in 1940. The flying of the St George's Cross elsewhere on a civilian ship is illegal, as it is the rank flag of a four-star admiral. The Royal Navy of the United Kingdom is the senior service of the armed services, being the oldest of its three branches. ... Flag Ratio: 1:2 The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland uses as its national flag the Royal Banner commonly known as the Union Flag or Union Jack. ... Admiral of the Fleet is a supreme naval position that has existed both in historical navies and several modern day navies of the 21st century. ... St Georges cross The St Georges cross, a red cross on a white background, is the national flag of England and has been since about 1277. ... Dunkirk is the English name for the city of Dunkerque in northern France: see Dunkirk, France. ... 1940 was a leap year starting on Monday (link will take you to calendar). ... Admiral is a word from the Arabic term Amir-al-bahr (Lord of the bay). ...


Other flags

Rank flags

  • In the Royal Navy, admirals fly rectangular rank flags: an Admiral of the Fleet flies a Union Jack, while an admiral flies the St George's Cross. The flags of vice-admirals and rear-admirals have one and two additional red balls respectively. Commodores fly a Broad Pennant which is a short swallow-tailed pennant based on the St George's Cross, with a red ball at the canton (upper quarter next to the staff).
  • In the United States Navy as well as in some other countries, admirals fly rectangular blue flags with white stars according to rank.

The Royal Navy of the United Kingdom is the senior service of the armed services, being the oldest of its three branches. ... Admiral is a word from the Arabic term Amir-al-bahr (Lord of the bay). ... Admiral of the Fleet is a supreme naval position that has existed both in historical navies and several modern day navies of the 21st century. ... Flag Ratio: 1:2 The Union Flag or Union Jack is the flag most commonly associated with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and was also used throughout the former British Empire. ... St Georges cross The St Georges cross, a red cross on a white background, is the national flag of England and has been since about 1277. ... The United States Navy (USN) is the branch of the United States armed forces responsible for naval operations. ... Admiral is a word from the Arabic term Amir-al-bahr (Lord of the bay). ...

Pennants

  • A warship also flies from its masthead a masthead or commissioning pennant (or pendant), that is, a long narrow pennant which indicates the commission of the captain of the ship (and thus of the ship itself).
  • In the Royal Navy, the commissioning pennant is a small St George's Cross with a long tapering plain white fly. In the United States Navy, it is red above white, with seven white stars in the blue hoist. The commissioning pennant may be displaced by various rank flags, namely the personal flags of members of the Royal family, the President of the United States, or the flags or pennants of admirals or commodores.
  • The Senior Officer Present Afloat Pennant is green on the hoist and fly with a white field between.
  • The Church Pennant has the St George's Cross in the hoist and a fly which is horizontally divided red-white-blue. It is said that it is a combination of the English and Dutch flags that was invented during the Anglo-Dutch Wars to signify a truce during church services.
  • The Gin Pennant means that the wardroom is inviting officers from ships in company to drinks. The origins of the Gin Pennant are uncertain, but it seems to have been used since the 1940s and probably earlier. Originally it was a small green triangular pennant measuring approximately 18 inches by 9 inches (460 by 230 mm), defaced with a white wine glass. Its colour, size and position when hoisted were all significant as the aim was for the pennant to be as inconspicuous as possible, thereby having fewer ships sight it and subsequently accept the invitation for drinks.

The Royal Navy of the United Kingdom is the senior service of the armed services, being the oldest of its three branches. ... The United States Navy (USN) is the branch of the United States armed forces responsible for naval operations. ... Members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the Trooping the Colour ceremony The British Royal Family is a group of people closely related to the British monarch. ... Seal of the President of the United States The President of the United States is the head of state of the United States. ... The painting Dutch attack on the Medway, June 1667 by Pieter Cornelisz van Soest, painted c. ... The Wardroom is the officers mess in a warship. ... Any holder of an office or of a post may bear the title officer. ... 1940 was a leap year starting on Monday (link will take you to calendar). ...

Yacht club burgee

Yachts belonging to yacht clubs fly their yacht club's triangular burgee from the masthead. This is compulsory if the yacht is flying a special ensign that members of the club have been granted permission to fly. A yacht club is a club ostensibly for the owners of yachts but more generally serving as a social club. ...


Unit citations

Warship of various navies may be awarded a unit citation, for which a burgee (tapering flag with swallow-tail fly) is flown when in port.

  • Ships of the United States Navy:
    • Presidential Unit Citation - yellow with blue stripe on top and red stripe at the bottom.
    • Navy Meritorious Unit Citation - green with four yellow stripes divided by two blue and one red stripes at the centre.
    • Navy Unit Citation - symmetrical colouring from the centre: green, red, yellow, blue.
  • Ships of the Royal Australian Navy may have:
    • Unit Citation for Gallantry - burgee with narrow white band surrounding green field surmounted by a silver star.
    • Meritorious Unit Citation - design as above with yellow field.

The United States Navy (USN) is the branch of the United States armed forces responsible for naval operations. ... Royal Australian Navy Ensign The Royal Australian Navy (or RAN) is the navy of Australia and part of the Australian Defence Force. ...

Signal flags

There is a system of International maritime signal flags for each numeral and letter of the alphabet. Each flag or pennant has an additional meaning when flown individually. The system of international maritime signal flags is a way of representing individual letters of the alphabet on ships or in nautical situations. ...


See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
Indonesia: Naval Jack (161 words)
The Indonesian jack is a simple flag with nine alternating red and white stripes.
Haven't got a clue; however, many jacks are based on earlier versions of a national flag (e.g.
Following the Dutch tradition, different variants of the jack are used by the navy and civilians respectively.
Maritime flags - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1570 words)
In the Royal Navy the Union Jack at sea serves both as a naval jack and as the rank flag of an Admiral of the Fleet.
It is illegal for a merchant ship or yacht to fly the Union Jack: a civilian jack (sometimes known as the pilot jack as it was formerly used to request a pilot) exists, and consists of the Union Jack with a white border.
The St George's Cross flown from the jack staff is known as the Dunkirk jack, and is customarily flown by ships and boats which took part in the Dunkirk rescue operation in 1940.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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