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United Kingdom: Decorative flags on Navy Ships

Last modified: 2009-12-26 by rob raeside
Keywords: royal navy | decoration |
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[UK naval ensign] image by Vincent Morley


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Decorative Flags

Warships underway on dressing ship days, wear only masthead flags and ensigns and jacks - the only occasion when a warship underway will wear a jack.
Andr Coutanche, 12 February 2004

There is one other occasion. A British warship under way wears its jack if the Sovereign, or a foreign Head of State is on board. Escorting warships also wear their jacks.
David Prothero, 16 February 2004

When warships of other nationalities are present in a port where the local navy is dressing ship, they will join in as a mark of courtesy. Foreign warships underway in or past an anchorage where ships are dressed, will hoist the appropriate masthead ensigns and their jacks also as a mark of courtesy.
Andr Coutanche, 12 February 2004

Does "appropriate masthead ensigns" mean the flag of the foreign country?
David Prothero, 16 February 2004

The host Navy that is celebrating a national event or day, of course hoists its own national flag at the masthead(s). Foreign ships present who are conforming as a courtesy, also hoist the national flag of the host country as part of the courtesy. When a visiting warship has a dress ship day while in the foreign port, the ships of the host country will normally as a courtesy also dress overall and hoist the national flag of the visiting ship at their mastheads. A question that has just occurred to me- when RN ships dress for local events in British ports, do they hoist the union jack or the white ensign?
Andre Burgers, 16 February 2004

They use the white ensign. Using the union jack would mean that an Admiral of the Fleet was on board.
David Prothero, 18 February 2004