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Ensigns and Other Naval Flags (Germany)

Last modified: 2002-05-31 by santiago dotor
Keywords: germany | ensign: war | jack | coat of arms | swallowtailed | pilot | bordure (white) | stars: 12 (yellow) | letter: d | flag: germany |
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War Ensign

Service Ensign for Naval Forces of the Federal Armed Forces / Dienstflagge der Seestreitkräfte der Bundeswehr

[War Ensign and Jack (Germany] 3:5
by Marcus Schmöger
Flag adopted 25th May 1956

A swallow tail version of the service flag [state flag and ensign]. Adopted 1956. Illustrated in Pedersen 1971 p. 30, Smith 1975, p. 227 and Album des Pavillons 1990, p. 17.

Norman Martin, February 1998

The naval ensign is swallowtailed and bears the shield slightly shifted to the hoist. It was legally prescribed on 25th May 1956 with the Anordnung des Bundespräsidenten über die Dienstflagge der Seestreitkräfte der Bundeswehr (Instruction of the Federal President on the Service Flag of the Naval Forces of the Federal Armed Forces), published in the Bundesgesetzblatt I 1956, p. 447. It is also used as naval jack. Sources: Laitenberger and Bassier 2000, Friedel 1968 and Bundesministerium des Innern 1956.

Marcus Schmöger, 14 March 2001

War Jack

Gösch der Seestreitkräfte

[War Ensign and Jack (Germany] 3:5
by Marcus Schmöger

According to Brockhaus 1968, the German naval jack is black-red-gold swallow-tailed with the arms.

Pascal Vagnat, 2 May 1996

A smaller version of the Ensign. Adopted 1956. Illustrated in Pedersen 1971 p. 30, Smith 1975, p. 227 and Album des Pavillons 1990, p. 17.

Norman Martin, February 1998

Pilot (Call) Flag


[Pilot Call Flag (Germany] 3:5
by Santiago Dotor

The Federal flag with a white border. Illustrated in Album des Pavillons 1990, p. 19. Continues the tradition of having the pilot flag be the merchant flag with a white border.

Norman Martin, February 1998

In Album des Pavillons 2000 there is no longer an image (nor a mention) of the Pilot Flag which appeared in the 1995 Recap. of Album des Pavillons 1990. Is it obsolete? Since when?

Zeljko Heimer, 28 January 2001

Since the pilot flag is (I assume) 3:5 and the white border has (again I assume) a uniform width, the German flag within is not 3:5 but 9:19 (slightly over 1:2).

Santiago Dotor, 6 March 2001

European Union ensign used in the Rhine?

['European Union' ensign used in the Rhine? (Germany] 2:3?
by Ivan Sarajcic

[During a recent journey in Germany] I saw some boats on the Rhine river flying, instead of the German national flag, the European Union flag with the [white] letter 'D' and [a small] German triband in center. Is there any explanation for that?

Ivan Sarajcic, 3 September 1999

In place of the ensign, do you mean? A couple of years ago we were told that France was challenging every vessel flying one of these European Union ensigns (though those had the national flags as small cantons). If it flew amidships, or forward, there is of course no problem.

John S. Ayer, 6 September 1999

Whilst it is true that such flags are probably illegal flown instead of the correct national merchant ensign on the high seas and in most countries' coastal waters, is the same true on international inland waterways? Certainly if the vessels that Ivan saw were on that part of the Rhine wholly within Germany I doubt there would be any problem at all. I would guess that the Rhine along the Franco-German border is half French and half German, so if the German vessels where on the Germany side of the border, again no problem. In the United Kingdom there is (as far as I know) no requirement for vessels on inland waterways to display any flag and most do not.

Roy Stilling, 7 September 1999

I am quite positive that it was in place of ensign. It flew on some barges' astern. It was near Bonn, that means wholly within Germany.

Ivan Sarajcic, 7 September 1999

Civil Jack

Bugflagge or Heimathafenflagge

According to this webpage the flag flown at the bow of a German merchant ship is known as the Bugflagge or Heimathafenflagge, meaning the bow flag or home port flag, and is the city flag of the ship's home port, such as Bremen or Hamburg. A maritime lexicon available at this webpage suggests that the term Gösch, or jack, is confined to the small national flag flown at the bow, e.g., by government vessels.

The latter source also describes the ceremony of Flaggenwechsel (exchange of flags) when a ship is taken into service by a shipping company and the builder's houseflag (Werftflagge) at the mainmast is replaced by that of the shipping company (Reedereiflagge).

Joseph McMillan, 29 March 2001

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