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Displaying the National Ensign on Board

Display aboard Ships-Not Under Way. When not under way, a ship in commission or in service flies the national ensign from a flagstaff at the stern from 8:00 a.m. until sunset. In addition, a ship that enters a port at night displays its ensign from the gaff at daylight for a sufficient time to establish its nationality. (Navy Regulations 1259) When a ship fires a salute in honor of President's Day, Independence Day, or the President, it flies an additional ensign at the head of the mainmast, or at the head of the foremast if firing a salute to any other U.S. civil official. (Navy Regulations 1261) A ship that is dressed or full-dressed for a U.S. holiday or other special event flies its largest available ensign at the flagstaff and an ensign at each masthead at which a personal flag or command pennant is not hoisted. If it is dressed in honor of a foreign nation, that nation's naval ensign flies at the head of the mainmast. (Navy Regulations 1279)

Display aboard Ships-Under Way. The ensign is displayed from the gaff of a ship during daylight hours when getting under way or coming to anchor, when falling in with other ships, when cruising near land, during battle, or whenever else the senior officer present directs. (Navy Regulations 1259.4)

Display in Boats. The ensign is flown in the stern of a boat when under way in daylight in a foreign port, when ships are dressed or full-dressed, when going alongside a foreign vessel, when an officer or official is embarked on an official occasion, and when a flag or general officer, a unit commander, a commanding officer, or a chief of staff is embarked in uniform in a boat of his command. In these cases, the staff on which the ensign is mounted is topped with a finial indicating the rank of the senior officer or official in the boat. (Navy Regulations 1262 and 1275)

Display Ashore. The ensign is displayed from 8:00 a.m. to sunset near the headquarters of every command ashore, or at the headquarters of the senior officer if several headquarters are located close together. Generally it flies at the top of the flagpole (except when half-masted). The exception is that it flies at the gaff of any pole-mast that is equipped with one. (Navy Regulations 1260, NTP 13(B) 0801)

Other Regulations. The United States national ensign is dipped in salute only in return for such a salute rendered by a vessel registered in the United States or in a country recognized by the United States. (Navy Regulations 1263).

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