Tuesday, 16 February 2010
ABC Wednesday Round 6 E is for Ensign
(Ensign from the Old French 'enseigne', Latin insignia)
When we go sailing I am always interested in the flags and pennants flown by different vessels. Sometimes ships in port are dressed overall for special occasions and they always look very colourful and inviting.
'Ensign' has more than one meaning. It can be a national flag flown on ships and aircraft and often has a special insignia denoting a branch or unit of the armed forces. Sometimes it is a standard or banner representing, for example, a military unit. In times gone by it was used to describe the person carrying a standard.
Ensign is a commissioned rank in the US Navy or Coast Guard below that of lieutenant junior grade. Ensign is also a badge of office or power.
As in all things, there is a great deal of data about ensigns and the correct wearing thereof and the following is just a short overview. I am grateful to Wikipedia for much of the information and the depictions of the various ensigns.
In Great Britain the ensigns with which we are most familiar are the Blue Ensign, Red Ensign and White Ensign. They are worn plain or defaced – that is, with an emblem or badge depicting their business, interest or allegiance.
The Blue Ensign is flown by ships in public service, like Her Majesty's Coastguard, Port of London Authority, the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency, the Northern Lighthouse Board and by some long-established British yacht clubs as well as by some ships not in the RN but commanded by an officer of the Royal Naval Reserve.
The Red Ensign, also known as the 'Red Duster' identifies ships of the United Kingdom's Merchant Navy and civilian merchantmen. It is the courtesy flag that should be worn by foreign private vessels in UK waters.