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South Africa Naval Flags

Last modified: 2001-03-09 by jarig bakker
Keywords: south africa | navy |
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New SA Naval Ensign

[New SA Naval Ensign] by Andy Weir, 12 Jan 2001, after image sent by Bruce Berry, 27 Nov 2000

The new SA Naval Ensign is the same as that used previously except the new SA national flag is in the canton and the badge of the Navy no longer appears in the fly. It was the third version of the SA Naval Ensign which comprised the former SA flag in the canton with a green Scandinavian cross on a white background in the proportion 1:2 in use between 1952-1959. Thereafter between 1959 and 1981 a white fimbriation was added around the national flag to separate it from the cross. In 1981 the Naval emblem was added to the lower fly and the proportions changed to 2:3 (as in the case of the National flag). This version was used until 1994 when the new flag was added and once again the naval emblem was dropped from the fly - the proportions remain 2:3.
Bruce Berry, 6 March 1996

Naval Colour

[South Africa Naval Colour] by Paine Herring, 16 March 1998

There is a South African Naval Colour that consists of the naval ensign charged with the crest from the coat of arms in the lower quarter.
Paine Herring, 16 March 1998

Rank Flags

Commodore's flag

[South Africa Commodore] by Paine Herring, 16 March 1998

The flag of Rear Admiral Junior Grade in Album2000 is similar to but not the same as Commodore flag on FOTW. I guess it was changed recently. (The rank flags on FOTW might be of the Apartheid era)
Zeljko Heimer, 5 Jan 2001

An on-line Jane's Information Group publication to which I have access through my work shows the rank structure of the South African Navy the same as in Album 2000, with the grade between rear admiral and captain entitled rear admiral (JG) [junior grade].  The insignia is a single broad stripe, the same as for the UK Royal Navy rank of commodore.
Joe McMillan, 4 Jan 2001

Admiral's flag

[South Africa Admiral] by Paine Herring, 16 March 1998

Vice Admiral's flag

[South Africa Vice Admiral] by Paine Herring, 16 March 1998

Rear Admiral's flag

[South Africa Rear Admiral] by Paige Herring - 12 March 1998

Senior officer afloat pennant

The image in Album2000 uses light green shade, all other ZA flags use dark green (odd, but it seems that it is a common flag used by Commonwealth navies)
Zeljko Heimer, 5 Jan 2001

If this is the senior officer afloat pennant, a vertical green-white-green triband, it is the "Starboard" signal pennant prescribed for use by NATO navies to identify the senior officer present afloat (SOPA, in US terminology). Some NATO navies use only this pennant for SOPA (including US, UK and Canada) while others (such as France) use it when operating with Allied ships but have a different SOPA pennant for use when operating unilaterally.  I suppose it has also been adopted by some other navies.  The blue triangle shown as the US SOPA pennant in A2K has not been in use since about 1950.
Joe McMillan. 4 Jan 2001

Old naval flags of South Africa

White ensign

[South Africa Naval Ensign - 1946] by Paine Herring, 16 March 1998

Following World War II, the South African military discarded the British White Ensign and began to use a solid white ensign with the South African flag in the canton. Asopted in 1946, the flag was of 1:2 proportion. As a result, the national flag, as well as the flags in the center, had to have a 1:2 proportion (Union Nationality and Flags Act of 1927). This ensign was changed due to the fact that it was difficult to identify.

Second naval ensign

[South Africa Naval Ensign - 1951] by Paine Herring, 16 March 1998

The second naval ensign was adopted on 31 May 1951. It was the national flag (in 1:2 proportion) with a small version of the national flag's stripes on the orange stripe in the upper hoist canton. South Africa's second naval ensign was never used because of its unpopularity and because a new design was approved before the second version was taken into use.

Third naval ensign

[South Africa Naval Ensign - 1952] by Paine Herring, 16 March 1998

The third naval ensign reverted back to the British tradition. This version, adopted 14 November 1952, was 'a dark green cross on a white background with the Union National Flag in the upper canton next to the hoist.' Because the design specified that the national flag should be of 2:3 proportion, the flag (1:2 proportion) had a distinctive Scandinavian cross look. The third RSA naval ensign flew until 1959.

Fimbriated ensign

[South Africa Naval Ensign - 1959] by Paine Herring, 16 March 1998

In 1959, an order by the Defence Force stated that the national flag should be fimbriated. This version came into use by March 1961 as stocks of the prior version were depleted. (This will lead to RSA flags and ensigns that are approved but never flown.)

Castle ensign

[South Africa Naval Ensign - 1981] by Paine Herring, 16 March 1998

On 5 March 1981, a new ensign was adopted. This flag changed the proportions of the naval ensign to 2:3. The green cross on white with a fimbriated national flag in the canton was retained; however, the naval badge, the crest of the South African Coat of Arms on a blue ground plan of the Castle of Good Hope, was placed in the lower fly quarter. This flag was flown until 1994.
From 27 April 1994 until 11 November 1994, the South African Navy used the national flag as the naval ensign. The Republic of South Africa changed its naval ensign on 29 September 1994. The ensign removed the naval badge and replaced the old national flag with the current national flag. It was officially taken into use on 11 November 1994.
There is a South African Naval Colour that consists of the naval ensign charged with the crest from the coat of arms in the lower quarter."
Sources: SAVA Journal 2/93, "Flags of the Union Defence Forces and of the South African Defence Force, 1912-1993;" SAVA Newsletter, 11/94; SAVA Newsletter, 17/96."
Paine Herring, 16 March 1998

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