Flags

ChasD
28th September 2008, 15:05
I need a bit of guidance from deck dept colleagues! An artist friend of mine has been commissioned to do a painting of a vessel. The scenario is; a UK reg. cargo vessel entering her home port from foreign going voyage. The era is circa 1950ís. The question, for the sake of accuracy and completeness is; under these circumstances, what flags would she be expected to be flying - ensign, house flag, courtesy, Q-flag, etc and/or others, and from what points on the vessel, stern, port/starboard yards etc ?
I can give some outline info but professional knowledge and guidance from the right guys would be much appreciated !

Regards and thanks in advance ! ChasD

joebuckham
28th September 2008, 17:22
hi chas.
from for'd; 'g' require pilot or 'h' pilot on board; 'q' i request free pratique; could also hoist 'b' dangerous cargo; these on triatic stay or signal mast above monkey island;
houseflag mainmast top;
ensign on gaff abaft main mast until all secure alongside but many variations according to ships build.

McCloggie
28th September 2008, 18:41
Well that seems to sum it up!

Apart from the ensign/flag of the country the ship is visiting.

Sorry ..... just seen that it is a UK ship entering her home port which would be in the UK anyway!

I'll just go and get my coat now!

McC

Pat McCardle
28th September 2008, 21:23
In the one & only P&O ship I was on we also flew the call sign from the starboard yard on signal mast, Monkey Island.

ChasD
28th September 2008, 21:24
Many Thanks Guys ! That's exactly what was needed. Wondered about the callsign and if it was more relevant to that period, only rarely seen it used.
Best for now .... ChasD

joebuckham
28th September 2008, 21:37
hi chas
never seen the call sign used for real

andysk
30th September 2008, 14:41
Don't forget the stem jack.

It could also be specific to the ship's name as in Clan Line - with the tartan appropriate to the Clan of the name.

Or maybe specific to the original company in the case of shipping groups, (eg) P&O, B&C and others

joebuckham
30th September 2008, 14:51
Don't forget the stem jack.
may be wrong but was'nt the jack only flown when alongside or when at anchor

andysk
30th September 2008, 14:55
Don't forget the stem jack.
may be wrong but was'nt the jack only flown when alongside or when at anchor

Dunno Joe, I can't remember what happened when I was at sea, maybe different companies had different practices ?

It only goes to show that a good photograph is needed when making a model or painting of a ship (or anything else) at a particular time in it's career.

whiskey johnny
30th September 2008, 14:58
sir
the house flagis only flown if the owner is on board or in the vincinity of the ship so a liverpool ship entering southampton does not fly the house flag
yours jan

doric
30th September 2008, 15:25
Also if some sort of sickness aboard, you fly the Quarantine yellow flag.
Regards, Terence Williams.R538301.(K)

Chouan
30th September 2008, 16:20
House flag flown when other listed flags flown, certainly in Ellermans. Pilot Jack (stem jack as it is called above) was only flown when at anchor or alongside.

ROBERT HENDERSON
30th September 2008, 17:31
Maybe my memory is dimmed with old age, I was always under the impression requiring medical assistance was a two flag signal, and that the yellow ''Q'' flag meant ''my ship is healthy and i request free pratique.''

Regards Robert

Orbitaman
30th September 2008, 21:51
Maybe my memory is dimmed with old age, I was always under the impression requiring medical assistance was a two flag signal, and that the yellow ''Q'' flag meant ''my ship is healthy and i request free pratique.''

Regards Robert

You're quite right Robert, a single "Q" flag means ''my ship is healthy and I request free pratique'', while a "suspect" vessel would fly "QQ".

Orbitaman
30th September 2008, 21:53
sir
the house flagis only flown if the owner is on board or in the vincinity of the ship so a liverpool ship entering southampton does not fly the house flag
yours jan

The house flag in all companies I sailed under was flown wherever and whenever the vessel hit port.

John Briggs
1st October 2008, 02:22
Perfectly correct Orbitaman, the house flag is flown at all times.
The pilot jack is only flown when at anchor or alongside.
We also regularly flew the signal letters but from the port yard or triatic stay as the starboard yard was for the courtesy flag. Not that many ships flew the signal letters.

saintfield
1st October 2008, 09:56
If she is a cargo liner carrying Mail then the Royal Mail pennant could be flying from foremast yard arm.
brgds Saintfield

Greyman
7th October 2008, 15:23
If the owner were either onboard or in the vicinity the house flag would certainly be brand new ,as well as all the other flags most probably .

andysk
7th October 2008, 17:48
If the owner were either onboard or in the vicinity the house flag would certainly be brand new ,as well as all the other flags most probably .

Sadly not when we bunkered in Tenerife in 1972 on the way home from India, and the owner's daughter (and family), who were on hols there, came aboard for lunch with the OM. The flags were a tad scruffy, if not a bit past their best. I don't think she noticed though !

Kalamaki Bob
20th January 2009, 18:16
In Shaw Savill the jack was 'broken out'when the anchor was let go or when the first line was ashore. House flag flown anytime the other flags were. Used the old match trick to assist in breaking out the flags especially on the foremast!
Bob

slick
20th January 2009, 20:38
All,
When in Hain's on charter to Stricks for the outward voyage to the Persian Gulf the Strick's House flag was flown on a bamboo "Striker', this had the effect of lifting the Flag some six feet above the Main mast truck.
On the theme I can remember the Captain of our ship receiving a fairly stiff rebuke from the Commodore of Stricks regarding the state of their Houseflag.
Our Captain went light and made us, the Apprentices wash the Flag on a regular basis, and when we came off charter the flag was returned on instructions to the nearest Stricks ship.
All our Flags were raised to the whistle of the Officer of the Watch/Day that is all Apprentices turned to for this task.
Yours aye,
Slick

NZSCOTTY
22nd January 2009, 05:42
All this flag talk brings the memory of when at Curacao discharging royal mail at anchor, I as the young third mate was in number 3 UTD ensuring nothing was stolen. It was approaching time to put the flags up but cargo was not finished. Noticed the old man on his deck staring at me then masts then watch!! I decided cargo was more important and to cut a long story short flags were ten minutes late in getting up but cargo was discharged without incident and to cargo manual instructions!!

Called up to old mans cabin for dressing down but gave as good as I got. Never saw much future in NZSCo but there again it did not have much future either!!

kewl dude
27th January 2009, 05:27
"never seen the call sign used for real"

US Flag ships on the 1960-1970 "Coal Run" flew call sign flags 24 hours a day. Brightly lit at night.

Background. Prior to John Kennedy being President US Military bases in Europe paid for local utilities with green money. John Kennedy instituted paying with low sulfur US coal.

This provided employment for coal miners and railroad train crews, ships and crews. Late 1960's there were 26 ships on this run. Typically loaded in Philadelphia or Norfolk and discharged in Amsterdam or Antwerp.

Flew call signs so that US Navy submarines could use us for attack practice. When we arrived back in the states Navy folks would come aboard and correlate our positions with subs reporting that they had attacked us. To assure that we were where the sub said we were.

Greg Hayden

sidsal
20th February 2009, 21:14
The ships of the Brocklebank Line of Calcutta Steamers - the oldest British shipping company in its day, had the honour of flying its house flag from the foremast. I beieve it indicated that their ships had been granted "letters of Marque" by Quen Anne, permiting them to prey on other ships. In other words legal piracy.

tom e kelso
21st February 2009, 18:18
I seem to remember that in the 1950's it was mandatory to fly the signal letters when under way within Japanese port waters. They had to be "dropped" when the anchor was let go or first line sent ashore. That said ,normally in BI ships the signal letters were flown from the port yard arm on approaching port

Written into BI Regulations/Instructions and kept up till the 1971 "revolution", a deck officer had to be in attendance at 0800 and at sunset for "flags" together with either the Deck serang or Tindal and 4 or 5 kalassis! The BI ship, whose master (Commander) was the most senior to any other BI ships in port (except when an RN vessel was in port and in sight, when the time was taken from the warship) broke out 5 pennant five minutes before 0800 or sunset as the case may be, this being answered immediately by the answering pennant being broken out on the other BI ships. The senior ship at 0800 dropped 5 pennant, and everyone then broke out their jacks and houseflags and hoisted the courtesey ensign and red ensign at the same time, to the Serang or Tindal's pipe. With some ships, particularly in Bombay or Calcutta there was some competition, at least in my earlier days, to "drop" the 5 pennant /answering pennant smartly....such that some ships used a cylindrical bag filled with sand and fitted with Inglefield clips, clipped onto the pennant. I heard that on one ship the rapidly descending pennant *** sandbag clouted a stevedore and sent him sprawling!

As with some other companies, following the RN pattern, the jack (in BI, a small houseflag) was broken out when anchor was let go or first line ashore, while at the same time the ensign at the gaff was lowered and another (larger) hoisted at the ensign staff, right aft. The only time we used the Pilot Jack was at the stem when dressed either "overall "or "with masthead ensigns"

We normally flew the courtesey flag at the starboard yardarm even though I believe the proper (and "superior") place is the foremasthead (Brocklebank excepted!). On BI ships, the houndsbands for the radio aerials tended to be too near the mastcap for the flag to fly properly.

On one of our passenger ships on which I sailed, on the Calcutta/Japan run, we also flew a "Joss flag" at the triatic stay,when in Hong Kong. This was, in Sirdhana's case, a large silk truquoise flag with Chinese characters embroidered thereon. The latter apparently proclaimed the attraction of the ship to potential deck passengers...or so I was told.

Bull****! some of you may say. But most liner companies had their little idiosyncracies , and most of us in BI were very happy with our lot

Those indeed were the days!

Tom

sidsal
21st February 2009, 21:43
Tom Kelso
Just looked at your profile. What an interesting career.
Why haven't you written a book ? Sounds as if it would be a best seller !
Sid

John Adamson
21st February 2009, 23:34
Yes you are right, the jack should only be flown when alongside or at anchor, but many ships that I sailed on including P&0 flew it underway, sometimes the Old Man loved to fly as many flags as possible, this included the call sign on the yardarm. I guess more is better!

Naytikos
25th February 2009, 07:10
Whilst loading iron-ore in the estuary at Marmagao once, we and all the other ships (about a dozen), received a letter from the local Indian naval commander complaining that none were flying their callsigns and, worse, none had dipped their ensigns in salute when a warship passed through the anchorage.

Keith Adams
26th April 2009, 09:56
The original question was about the need for accurate portrayal of flags aboard British vessels arriving back in the UK from overseas in the 1950's or so ... assuming vessel underway and having a foremast and a mainmast - in order from forward to aft would be Foretop - Royal Mail pennant (if applicable), Starboard Yard - (if no monkey island halyards) either "G" I require a pilot or "H" I have a pilot on board Note:- Liverpool, for example, used a series of Numeral pennants instead, ie., 1 - I have a Company (approved) Pilot aboard. 2 - Inbound from Pt. Lynas pilot cutter. 3 - Inbound from Bar pilot cutter. In congested two way river traffic conditions, numeral 4 would be flown on an out bound vessel. Additionally, a vessel, usually a liner, if shifting from Princes Landing Stage to Dock Berth (or vice versa) would fly numeral 5 - I am shifting vessel. All of the aforementioned was when ship to ship radio contact between pilots/ship masters was not common place - when forward tugs were given direction by hand held whistle and stern tugs by ship's whistle. On top of that, the majority of Home Trade vessels (coasters and the like) did their own pilotage and hoisted (some permanently, judging by the grubby state) H flag flown horizontally with the white half uppermost - I digress ! - continuing ... Port Yard Q - I request free pratique ie., I have no communicable disease, and, in rare cases I - I do have communicable disease aboard. In the channel passing Lizard Head (Lloyds Reporting Station) or similarly off Lands End signal station - ship's own 4 letter call sign (beginning with G at the hoist of course) and all well found ships hoisted a House Flag at the main truck (frequently on a bamboo striker to ensure it flew proud). If a gaff was mounted on the main mast, then the ensign flew there, otherwise it was flown at the stern (first line ashore or alongside berth the gaff ensign was transferred to the stern). When at anchor, or at berth, many ships flew a Pilot Jack (Union Flag with a broad,white border band) at the stem - many companies flew a miniature House Flag at the stem instead. No self respecting tanker would be seen without flying B - I am carrying or handling dangerous cargo (flown almost constantly) - dry cargo vessels also flew B when carrying or working explosives. For the Marine Artist there is more ... a vessel fitted with only a single mast and without monkey island (flying bridge) halyards (the cargo gear being supported with samson/goal posts) would fly every thing from that mast - House Flag at the truck/peak, Pilot flag on the starboard outboard halyard, Royal Mail Pennant (if applicable) starboard inboard position, Health Condition Flag at port outboard yard, 4 Flag Call Sign Letters at port inboard position and ensign at the gaff or at the stern - actually there is no need of the call letters if the vessel is close enough to port to be flying Pilot/Health flags. Yet another thing ... the Red Ensign (Red Duster) was the most common ensign flown aboard British vessels in the 1950's and 60's, however, after WWII, there were many Captains/Chief Engineers and Deck/Engine staff who were Royal Navy Reserve and accordingly flew a Blue Ensign in place of the Red - such practice was very common, particularly with large liners - in fact, in those years very few large passenger ships flew the Red, no matter where they sailed. Just one small thing - a vessel undergoing speed trials (newly built) would customarily be flying a pilot jack at the stem, an A Flag - I am undergoing speed trials, at the Port Outboard Yard Arm, a Builders Flag at the Main Peak/Truck and a Red Ensign at the stern. The majority of Merchant Vessels had, as a matter of convenience, 3 or 4 sets of halyards immediately above the bridge, in the fore and aft line, from which the Pilot/Health Condition and other single, double and triple flag signals, in common use at that time were flown (remember no general use of ship to ship radio between navigators yet) - 4 flag signal flag hoists were better flown from the port yard arm to clear obstruction of the bottom flag in the hoist. The aforementioned are my own observations during the 1950's, and I recall having to know all single , double and triple flag signals for the Signals part of 2nd Mates Examinations. Cheers, Keith (Snowy)


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Ron Stringer
26th April 2009, 10:24
Note:- Liverpool, for example, used a series of Numeral pennants instead, ie., 1 - I have a Company (approved) Pilot aboard. 2 - Inbound from Pt. Lynas pilot cutter. 3 - Inbound from Bar pilot cutter.

I was always aware that the pilots operated from Lynas Point as well as from the Bar but although I went in and out of the Mersey many times on a variety of ships from several companies, ranging from 1,689 grt cargo/passenger to 36,778 grt tanker, we always picked up, or dropped, the pilot at the Bar, never off Anglesey.

Can anyone explain what were the factors that influenced a Master (or shipping company) when choosing which pilot was taken?

Keith Adams
27th April 2009, 06:31
Hi Ron, I am only guessing, but understood one picked up a pilot ASAP and that would be Pt Lynas from the South and the Bar from the North - that doesn't fit for your experience as you most probably came from, and went South every trip. I do know they used the flags as a visual guide in counting how many pilots were still available on each Pilot Cutter. They already knew at which station the outbound Pilots would be dropped - twice we over-carried a Pilot to Canada - all due to long term to heavy weather conditions. My time was 1951 - 1961, so there could have been later operational changes in the 1960s onward. If anyone has actual hands on knowledge it would be great to receive such advices. Cordially, Keith.

Ron Stringer
27th April 2009, 14:56
Thanks Keith. Another little mystery that I'll never solve.

Tony Crompton
27th April 2009, 15:53
The ships of the Brocklebank Line of Calcutta Steamers - the oldest British shipping company in its day, had the honour of flying its house flag from the foremast. I beieve it indicated that their ships had been granted "letters of Marque" by Quen Anne, permiting them to prey on other ships. In other words legal piracy.

There have been many theories as to why Brocklebank ships flew their houseflag on the foremast. Unfortunately the real reason was very mundane!!
It was when a ship with a houseflag on the foremast was sighted from a signal station it was recognised as a Brocklebank ship and the office in Liverpool was informed . (From Brocklebanks 1770-1950 by JF Gibson)