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Navy - Battalion Flags (U.S.)

Last modified: 2009-02-28 by rick wyatt
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The U.S. Navy infantry battalion flag is used as the organizational color for ship's landing party battalions and for battalion organizations of naval shore units. The Navy has a relatively small number of battalions in the operational fleet -- most notably the construction battalions, or Seabees -- as well as those in the training establishment. All of them use this flag as the organizational color, as do units of the Naval Reserve.

Description: A blue flag, 5 feet 1 1/2 inches hoist by 6 feet 6 inches fly (by far the largest organizational color carried by the U.S. armed forces), with a large white lozenge bearing a blue foul anchor. The designation of the unit is inscribed in 6-inch high "commercial gothic" lettering above and below the lozenge in lines parallel to the upper and lower edges. If necessary for reasons of space, authorized abbreviations are used and the size of the letters may be reduced. The designated finial is a brass battle-ax; there is no fringe, cord or tassels. Campaign and award streamers are not used. The illustration is for a currently non-existent unit; flags carried by actual battalions may differ somewhat in the format of the inscriptions.

History: Flags of this design have been used by U.S. naval landing forces since some time in the 19th century. A 1963 report by the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations cited its possible origins during the Civil War, but noted that it was first mentioned in Navy signal books just before 1900. There was formerly a red version for use by artillery and machine gun battalions; it was abandoned in the late 1940s or early 1950s. There was also formerly a separate battalion color for reserve units; this was abolished in 1967.

Note on actual use: The U.S. Navy is somewhat casual about adherence to directives on the use of what might be called non-operational flags. The infantry battalion flag may therefore be seen mounted on staffs with the silver spearhead used by the other services, carried with a national color with a spread eagle finial and gold fringe, cord and tassels. The color of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Five has the unit title on a curved line below the lozenge rather than the line parallel to the edge specified by the directive.

Joe McMillan, 11 September 1999

Naval Infantry Battalion Flag

[Navy Infantry Battalion Flag] by Joe McMillan, 11 September 1999

Naval Infantry Battalion Guidon

[Navy Infantry Battalion Guidon] by Joe McMillan, 11 September 1999