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Cayman Islands

Last modified: 2003-08-16 by dov gutterman
Keywords: cayman islands | united kingdom | lion | pineapple | turtle | ensign: blue | ugland | civil ensign | america | star (green) | stars: 3 |
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1999 Flag
by Graham Bartram

Official Name: Cayman Islands
Capital: George Town
Location: Caribbean
Government Type: British Overseas Territory
Flag adopted: 25 January 1999 (Originally adopted 14 May 1958)
Coat of Arms adopted: 14 May 1958
ISO Code: KY

See also:

The Flag

I found that the white disc was removed from Cayman Islands blue ensign on Flag Data Base (by Flag Institute) although before it has white disc.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 3 June 2000

The blue ensign with the white disc seems to be used everywhere (government site, American Express commericial, the 2000 chart from Shipmate, Znamierowski's books out now).
Steve Stringfellow, 17 June 2000

In 1999 the Ministry of Defence (MoD) department in charge of flags, the DCTA, decided, in consultation with the College of Arms, that the badges on many British flags were too small for identification. They also did not match the newer flags granted directly by the Queen, through the College of Arms, which have much larger badges.
So the MoD decided to make the badges much larger - the size and placement of badges on British ensigns was a decision in the power of the Admiralty, and passed to the MoD when the Admiralty ceased to exists as a separate body. So the MoD was simply exercising its authority in the matter, for the better identification of flags.
This meant that the white discs had to get larger. In fact the discs had to be so large that they looked ridiculous and it was therefore decided to discard them as they were no longer necessary, the new badges being clear even without the discs. So the new illustration of the Falkland Islands, Cayman Islands and Montserrat in BR20 (the government flag book) all had much larger badges (but no change to the design of the badge) and no white discs.
Of course the MoD's authority on flags only covers flags at sea, so the Islands concerned are free to continue using flags with discs on land if they wish to, but flags for use at sea should no longer have discs (unless they are old flags still in use). The question of discs of red ensigns is more complex as the size and placement of badges is usually specified in the Statutory Instrument that creates them and it is not clear whether the long standing MoD/Admiralty power over the size and placement of badges can be used to alter a flag created by a Statutory Instrument.
Graham Bartram, 6 July 2000

At the opening ceremony of Sydney 2000 olympic games, the Cayman Islands flag was still displayed with the white disk and had particularly well noticable large badge.
Pascal Gross and Zeljko Heimer, 16 September 2000

I noticed that Cayman Flags have changed in 1999.  I refer you to page <>.
Tom Rothe, 21 March 2001

Yes, the white disc was removed and the arms enlarged. Tom is referring to the change made when BR20 change 5 was published. Incidentally the Cayman Islands will be using the new flag at next year's Commonwealth Games
Graham Bartram, 21 March 2001

From <>:
The flag of the Cayman Islands was adopted in 1959. Prior to that, the Islands had used the British flag for all official occasions. Set on a navy blue field, the flag features the red, white and blue British Union Jack in its upper left-hand corner, and the Cayman coat of arms encircled in a pure white ground in the right-hand centre of the field. The maritime flag features a red field.
J.T. Liston, 6 Febuary 2002

The Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory ( the FCO has decreed what we used to call "colonies" will no longer to be called dependant territories) has issued A postage stamp in rememberance of 11th September 2001, showing the Statue of Liberty, the US flag, and the Cayman Islands Blue Ensign with the arms in a white disc! The government of the Cayman Islands website shows the flag as is shown on the stamp.
James T. Liston, 14 March 2002 and Dave Cox, 1 April 2002

As you may know, currectly the XIX edition of the Central American Games are being held in El Salvador. On the flagpoles there are hoisted the flag of the 31 participating teams. The flag of the Cayman Islands is the Blue Ensign with the arms within a white circle.
Even in the offcial web page of the Cayman Islands <> the flag bears an white circle...
Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 8 December 2002

The page for the Cayman Islands seems to attribute a new Cayman Islands flag to an event that occurred on 25 January 1999. From the postings, I gather that the event may be the appearance of the amendments to BR 20 (the Ministry of Defence flag book).
The incorrect depiction of the Queen's Harbour Master (QHM) flag shown in the 1999 amendments to BR 20 reflects that the amendment does not necessarily reflect a policy decision regarding flags, even those of the defence establishment.  BR 20 is a reference work issued by one agency of HM Government; it illustrates the flags of all nations.  But if the Navy or MoD ever wished to alter the Queen's Harbour Master flag, they would necessarily speak through channels similar to those used by the Admiralty when they created the flag some 88 years ago. The work's effect on flags used outside the defence ministry cannot be greater.
James T. Liston, 15 June 2003

Previous Flag for Use at Sea

by Zeljko Heimer and Antonio Martins, 19 June 2000

1958 Flag (Still in use?)

by Zeljko Heimer and Antonio Martins , 5 January 2000

Civil Ensign

by Graham Bartram

Last summer I saw a boat,  flying the Cayman Islands Red Ensign while docked at a pier on Long Island.
Ned Smith, 10 September 2000

The shade of red used on official Union Jacks and derived flags is "dark red" (aka "Post Office red"). The RGB equivalent would be RGB:204-0-0. The Pantone reference is 186
Antonio Martins and Graham Bartram, 13 September 2000

My entirely personal interpretation of the Merchant Shipping (Registration,etc.) Act 1993, is that the undefaced British Red Ensign is the primary ensign of a vessel registered in the Cayman Islands, and the Cayman Islands Red Ensign is an authorised option.
In schedule 3, para. 1, a British ship is defined as, a ship registered in the United Kingdom under the Act, or a ship registered under the law of a relevant British possession.
In schedule 3, para. 2 (1), the Act states that the flag which every British ship is entitled to fly is the Red Ensign (without any defacement or modification) except for;
3, para.2 (3), a. - colours allowed to be worn in pursuance of a warrant from Her Majesty or from the Secretary of State.
b. - defaced or modified Red Ensigns authorised or confirmed by Her majesty by Order in Council for wear by British ships registered in a relevant British possession.
David Prothero, 21 May 2002

I have found that my answer of 21st May was partly wrong.  The British Red Ensign is again an alternative ensign for Cayman registered ships, but between 1988 and sometime in the late 1990s it technically was not.
Until 1993 merchant shipping of British possessions was regulated by the 1894 Merchant Shipping Act, as amended. By the 1980s it was becoming difficult to correlate amendments and territories.  This was a particular problem in the Cayman Islands which had a more extensive register of shipping than other dependent territories.  In 1988 an Order in Council, relevant only to the Cayman Islands, codified the 1894 Act together with relevant modifications and amendments, and stated that the Order in Council itself, and not the 1894 Act, was the law of the Islands in relation to merchant shipping.  This included a statement that the Red Ensign defaced with the Cayman Islands crest was the proper national colours for Cayman vessels.
Due to a drafting error, or through an oversight, no provision was made for the plain Red Ensign.  This was corrected by a clause, inserted into an Order in Council of the late 1990s, which modified the flag provision to include the plain Red Ensign as well as the defaced Red Ensign.
David Prothero, 21 June 2002

Previous (?) Civil Ensign

Civil ensign
by Zeljko Heimer and Antonio Martins, 5 January 2000

I have just seen a visiting ship in Bristol City Docks - the 'Intuition II' - with its port of registration in 'Georgetown C.I.'. She is flying a defaced red ensign with the arms on a white disc - and the flag doesn't look particularly old and tattered, so I guess in practice the old design continues to be made and used.
André Coutanche, 4 June 2003

The changing of the size of the badge and/or arms, with the deletion of the white disk and addition of a fimbriation is official only in so far such flags are illustrated like this in the latest change in BR20 - Flags of All Nations - published by the Ministry of Defence, and is (as far as I can tell) an entirely arbitrary decision by them.
There are, as far as I remember, three (there could well be four or more) defaced red ensigns defined by Schedule, of these one shows a white disk, that of the Falkland Islands whilst two do not, those of Gibraltar and of Guernsey.  The remainder may include the traditional white disk or not as the fancy takes them. 
Christopher Southworth, 4 June 2003

While visiting Stockholm for ICV 20, we noticed a huge yacht and a sailing boat, both hoisting the Cayman Islands red ensign with white disc. Here is a photo.
Marcus Schmöger, 6 August 2003

Description of the Arms

by Graham Bartram

Three stars (representing the islands) on a wavy field (representing the sea), with a lion (representing links with Britain) in chief. The crest is a turtle and a pineapple plant. Arms adopted on 14 May 1958.
James Dignan, 22 November1995

The turtle represents the abundance of turtles around the islands. There is also a rope underneath the turtle which represents the islands first major export: rope making for ships. The motto He hath founded it upon the seas is referring to the fact that Christopher Columbus was the first European to discover the Cayman Islands which were then named "Las Tortugas" by Columbus himself.
Jennifer Bodden-Evans, 27 May 1997

This is the description of the Cayman Islands arms that appear on the flag. The turtle is the crest and the "rope" beneath it is the heraldic wreath. No connection to the rope industry here, but there are two other Carribean arms that do have this connection: Turks & Caicos Islands and Antigua & Barbuda.
Nahum Shereshevsky, 31 May 1997

The meaning of the Turtle is that the Caymans (Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman) were known as "Tortuga" (Turtle in Spanish) during the period when pirates used to hang around the Caribean Sea. The reason is very simple: the Island was crowded with them. Even today they have lots of them, even have a farm to raise turtles for gastronomic reasons (urgh!). There you can find also Stingrays, but they didn't get any space in the flag. What a shame...
Antonio Trops, 22 December 1998

Turks/Caicos and the Cayman Islands were dependencies of Jamaica. Turks had its own badge based on the Seal of the colony from 1875 until 1958 when it was replaced by the current shield, Caymans didn't have a badge at all until 1958.
David Prothero, 22 November 1999

The American Express commercial playing on tv these days shows the flag of the Caymen Islands flying from a pole, with the badge in a white disc in the usual place in a blue field UK Blue Ensign. Our website has the same flag shown as an illustration.
The World Flag Database has a different illustration showing flag not a white disc, but placed directly on the field.
Steve Stringfellow, 7 Febuary 2000

From <>:
"The Cayman Islands coat of arms consists of a shield, a crested helm and the motto. Three green stars representing the Islands are set in the lower two-thirds of the shield. The stars rest on blue and white wavy bands representing the sea. In the top third of the shield, against a red background, is a gold lion "passant guardant" (walking with the further forepaw raised and the body seen from the side), representing Great Britain. Above the shield is a green turtle on a coil of rope. Behind the turtle is a gold pineapple. The turtle represents Cayman's seafaring history; the rope, its traditional thatch-rope industry; and the pineapple, its ties with Jamaica.
The Islands' motto, He hath founded it upon the seas, is printed at the bottom of the shield. This verse from Psalms 24 acknowledges Cayman's Christian heritage.
The proposal for a coat of arms was approved by the Legislative Assembly in 1957, and public input was sought on its design. The Royal Warrant assigning "Armorial Ensigns for the Cayman Islands" was approved by Her Majesty's command on 14 May 1958.
J.T. Liston, 6 Febuary 2002

Use of Ensigns by Foreign Ships

Foreign civilian ships visiting any British Overseas Territory should fly, as a courtesy flag, the Territory's own Red Ensign, if the territory has one and the ship happens to carry one. The undefaced British Red Ensign is always an acceptable alternative. If the ship is a Foreign government vessel they should fly the Territory's Blue Ensign.
Basically the British rule is that you may use either the appropriate Red, Blue or White ensign (depending upon your own status) or the land flag, except that you cannot use the Union Flag at all.
Graham Bartram, 1 April 1999