View Full Version : FLAGGED OFF

happy daze john in oz
14th January 2013, 06:01 AM
As I have indicated in earlier posts, Princess Cruise ships are registered in Hamilton in the Bahamas, and as they are a British Protectorate ships registered there are allowed to fly the Red Ensign.
On deck 11 of the Sea Princess, as with most of the companies ships, there is a deck aft reserved for adults only. Good spot if you like the rear end, away from the hype of the pool area and only room for about 60 persons. It is from this deck that the stern Red Duster is flown when berthed quay side.

Most afternoons I would take my self up there with a good book and do a bit of sun bathing as well.

In Villa, Vanatua. getting ready to sail at 1700 hours. Sitting there watching the dock side action when at about 1600 hours a deck hand arrived to take down the Red Duster prior to sailing. What I saw was not a pretty sight I can assure you. He removed the flag from the halyard allowing it to fall to the deck. He then stepped on it whilst he secured the halyard. Having done that he then rolled the flag up in a ball, tied it off with the halyard end and unceremoniously dumped it in a deck locker.
I knew from looking earlier that the locker contained mops, buckets, deck scrubbers and other cleaning materials.
The following day preparing to leave Noumea he repeated the process.

Returning to our cabin with my customary 1700 hours sundowner I sat on the balcony thinking about what I had whitnesed. Having drunk the beer I knew there was only one thing for it, get another pint. Whilst supping this one I took a piece of paper marked 'Customer comments' and wrote the following.

"I have just seen the Red Ensign, on the stern deck 11, treated in amost disgusting manner, rolled up like a rag and dumped in a cleaning locker. This has occured not once, but twice ,that I have seen. Are you aware that during WW2 over 30,000 unarmed civilians in the British Merchant Navy gave their lives under that flag so that you and I could have freedom. Do you think the Royal Navy would allow the White Ensign to be treated in this manner? The flag, as with all flags deserves, and indeed demands, respect. It is about time this one was shown some!"

I then took the letter to the Pursers deck, now known as the service counter, telling the lady behing it, this is a complaint and must be taken to the Staff Captain. As an aside they now have Staff Cheif engineers. That was Wednesday evening.

Friday, the last of the cruise ,the captain, a very aminable Englishman by the name of Greig Street, announced that at 1300 hours the Third Officer would be holding an information session in the theatre about the ships navigation equipment, he would also answer questions.
I attended, and during the presentation, complete with slide show, he indicated that one of his responsibilites was looking after the flag locker to ensue all flags were available and in good order.
At the end of the talk I along with a few other men went to speak with him. I asked the question, having told him of the situation, why is the flag being treated in this manner? Two of the men then asked the same question, both having served in the Army and were astounded that any flag would be treated thus, congratulating me on bringing up the subject. The officer, a young guy of about 30 from Scotland could not answer my question but assured me he would investigate. I could see by the look on his face and his manner he was not impressed.

I returned to the cabin to get a few bits when the phone rang, it was the Purser asking if I would be so good as to attend her office?

I arrived there to be greeted by her and a Canadian man who told me he was the ship's Bosun. They had been sent to see me by the Staff Captain who when having read my letter hit the roof according to the Bosun. When it hits the fan it is not always evenly distributed.

The Staff Captain had then issued orders that ALL deck hands had to be instructed in the correct manner of flag management. I recieved a sincere appology from the Bosun saying he was also very saddened by the events.

I returned to the aft deck to look and sure enough the flag was no longer in the locker.

My conclusions, it has happened before and will do so again. But this time the Captain was angry for two reasons, it had happened, that was bad enough, but it had been seen and reported by a passenger, a far bigger sin in the eyes of the Captain.

Lou Barron
14th January 2013, 06:31 AM
Good on you very well done

Ivan Cloherty
14th January 2013, 08:17 AM
Hear! Hear! well done

14th January 2013, 08:24 AM
John, the flag of the Bahamas although a red ensign, is not for arguments sake the Red Ensign of the UK. Is the national flag of the Bahamas, and like others has a badge in the corner of the flag differentiating it from the UK flag as such. Thus excempting it from various rules and regulations which used to exist, whether they do or not now wouldnt know. Regards John Sabourn

Ivan Cloherty
14th January 2013, 09:12 AM
John, have seen vessels registered in the Bahamas flying the Red Ensign without any badges in the corner, just the good ole R.E.

14th January 2013, 10:39 AM
They are breaking the law then Ivan. If they are registered in the Bahamas they should by law be flying the flag of that country. However as you say maybe they dont know or dont care, as flag etiquette is nowadays non existant, I cannot see any authority enforcing. Maybe the Bahamas being more American than anything these days one is just told to be quite. You would not see an Australian ship flying the Red Duster as such, it would be the Red ensign of Australia. Cheers John Sabourn

John Adamson
14th January 2013, 05:57 PM
I think you got your islands muddled up a bit, its Bermuda your talking about, which has Hamilton as its capital.



Ron Kendall
14th January 2013, 10:43 PM
The flag of the Bahamas is not either the Union Flag, nor the Red Ensign on ships, it is a multi coloured flag, which I can't post, sorry!

Ivan Cloherty
14th January 2013, 10:47 PM
Got us there Ron, of course it should have read Bermuda instead of Bahamas, should have known better, knowing Hamilton from my PSNC days

Charlie Hannah
14th January 2013, 11:43 PM
I Like your style John. Good one.

15th January 2013, 12:09 AM
Have Been on various ships registered Nassau Bahamas, same as Gibralter flying the red ensign with appropriate insignia in corner of flag. Never really looked at what was in corner. The Australian flag as all know has the Southern Cross. Cheers John Sabourn

15th January 2013, 01:03 AM
I may be a bit remiss in my memory re. ensigns. I applaud however all those who have fought for the retention of the Red Ensign. Most on this web will have memorys of the 50"s and 60"s. Where there was still a semblance of flag etiquette. i.e. Pilot Jacks flown, Courtesy flags on the starboard yardarm, next port of call on the port Yardarm, Blue Peter (P Flag) flown prior to sailing, dipping the ensign to warships. All ships flew their National ensign entering or leaving port or were fined. Flags always down at sunset, usually up at 0800 hrs. All this is a thing of the past, except on passenger vessels where a good example should be set to fare paying passengers to impress them how it should be and was at one time. I have served on over 90 vessels during my time at sea so my memory of some may be slightly lacking. Those flags I have sailed under apart from British was Panamanian, Liberian, Nassau Bahamas, Gibralter, USA, Cayman Islands, and probably a few more I cant remember what flag they came under. Re. Ensigns, I have recently posted a picture of the Seaforth Clansman for someone who was looking for, you will probably note she is flying the Blue Ensign. She was a civilian ship manned by a Merchant Navy crew, there was no one among us held a position in the RNR. The Blue ensign also had something in the corner of the flag and was the only flag of its type as far as I know. It must have been constructed under warrant from the Admiralty. As regards flags already mentioned you would be hard pushed to find vessels at sea nowadays applying the proper etiquette apart from I would imagine passenger vessels, who also have the crew to do, if they know that is the proper manner to do it. Another thing sadly lost in so called modern times. John Sabourn

Tony Morcom
15th January 2013, 01:07 AM
Respect for the traditions of the sea is sadly becoming a distant memory John, only kept alive by sites such as this, it seems.

15th January 2013, 03:43 AM
Also Malaysian, Russian, and of course Australian. Probably still others cant at moment remember. In 1998 the Russian vessel still adhered to proper Flag etiquette, good for them. Cheers John Sabourn

happy daze john in oz
15th January 2013, 04:49 AM
John, the flag of the Bahamas although a red ensign, is not for arguments sake the Red Ensign of the UK. Is the national flag of the Bahamas, and like others has a badge in the corner of the flag differentiating it from the UK flag as such. Thus excempting it from various rules and regulations which used to exist, whether they do or not now wouldnt know. Regards John Sabourn

You are right John, all the islands of the group have similar. But the Red Ensign of the BMN is allowed to be flown as the island group is a British Protectorate. The flag in question was the Red Ensign, not an island flag.
There are a number of cruise companies that fly the Red Ensign with the island logo in one corner, Royal Caribbean is one I have seen.

15th January 2013, 05:17 AM
Must be a put up job. Gibralter is also a British Protecterate but has the insignia in corner ( unless my memory has completely gone) smell the political whiff of underhandedness of appeasement and alteration of certain regularities. Something like the excuse for marriage ceremonies. Cheers John Sabourn.

happy daze john in oz
15th January 2013, 05:46 AM
Must be a put up job. Gibralter is also a British Protecterate but has the insignia in corner ( unless my memory has completely gone) smell the political whiff of underhandedness of appeasement and alteration of certain regularities. Something like the excuse for marriage ceremonies. Cheers John Sabourn.

Agreed John, but does Gib have any ships registered there?

happy daze john in oz
15th January 2013, 06:10 AM

This is a photo I took of the flag the second day it was in the cleaning locker.

15th January 2013, 07:02 AM
Sure does John. I was on one. John Sabourn

Ivan Cloherty
15th January 2013, 08:43 AM
In my time at sea, to fly the Blue Ensign without insignias in the fly, the vessel had to have on board at least five members of the RNR or RNVR or a combination there-of. Apprentices were volunteered by the company as enroled in the RNVR towards that aim of achieving the required five.

Other services that flew the Blue Ensign were Customs and Excise (as they do today) with an insignia in the fly. Also commercial towing companies who were contracted to handle RN ships as in Portsmouth and Plymouth (no doubt other ports as well) were allowed to fly the Blue Ensign, some with an insignia and some without, presumably dependent upon how they were manned.

As always I stand to be corrected


15th January 2013, 09:02 AM
Does anyone recall we used to dip the red ensign at sea when passing-being passed by a warship? I quite liked that duty if I was on watch, made me feel quite warm of heart due to the history etc. I also liked it when we shifted the ensign from the stern to the mainmast once under way then you knew we at sea again. I saw one of our lads get a quite serious thumping from a docker for stepping on the stars & stripes when lowering it in L.A. way back when. It saddens me to think that flag etiquette, respect has passed that is. Also that so few people know their flags, by that I mean national of other countries people think you are odd when you comment on it whilst looking at a ship, yacht etc. Richard

15th January 2013, 12:27 PM
As far as I am aware you are correct Ivan, The blue ensign as stated was a one off as far as I know. However if the person who wanted a picture of vessel is copying this, his father may be able to put this one to bed as was one of the permanent RN contingent on board. Regards John Sabourn.

Ivan Cloherty
15th January 2013, 02:36 PM
have you noticed that although India wanted independence and to severe all things colonial, its Navy still has a White Ensign for naval vessels and a Red Ensign for merchant vessels, although I have noticed that some merchant vessels fly a full Indian flag.

Calvin Kent
15th January 2013, 03:55 PM
It was indeed a good game dipping to warships. If I was sent to do it I used to hide out of sight and then pop up and dip at the last moment. Quite often a warship would have checked you out with the glasses and thinking you weren't going to dip had no-one standing by. Oh how they scurried!

I seem to recall we used to dip going round Cape St Vincent but whether to the light keeper or the convent I'm not sure. The light is on the convent but not sure if it was still used as such.


Robert T. Bush
19th January 2013, 03:12 AM
In the South China sea one afternoon with a US cruiser approaching I sent the wheelman to do the honours. First I started telling him how to do it then he said, "I know, I know." so I took him at his word. He was what we called a Sub junta walla. (Know all) Watching the cruiser through my binoculars I noticed she pulled down her flag and then there seemed to some confusion.

I understood this when the wretched helmsman came back with our flag neatly folded under his arm. I called him a moron but he did not understand and just said, "Acha Sahib."

I half expected the cruiser to come round after us. They probably said "Smart Assed Limeys."

19th January 2013, 04:04 AM
What was he, a secunny I suppose, all his duties in which case should have been steering, Gangawy watch and flags. A so called specialist, sounds par for the course. No good asking a Kalassi 1 or 2 as was not their job. A winch Wallah definetly not, maybe the poor old topaz may have been hiding his knowledge, but as no one spoke to him wouldnt have been much good. Some of the old timers swear by these crews, I spent all my time just swearing. Best Regards John Sabourn.

happy daze john in oz
19th January 2013, 05:19 AM
One other point, when we docked in the last two ports we were flying the yellow quarentine flag, long time since I have seen that one.

19th January 2013, 07:38 AM
Have doubts about how many nowadays would know what it means used to be " My vessel is healthy and I request Free Pratique" may have different wording now if any. Medical pratique is usually done by radio now, and through ships Agents, the same as entering the ship in and out through customs clearance which in years gone by the master had to do himself. Everyone gets their fingers into shipping for fees etc. the only people they forgot to pay properly were the people who got the ship from A to B and worked it. Cheers John Sabourn.

19th January 2013, 09:31 AM
John you are so right as to Everyone gets their fingers into shipping for fees etc. unfortunately it is not just shipping, but also we who are having product shipped. It never ceases to amaze me as to how often a new charge is raised, so frustrating, however this is a beauty. We are trying to get two 12m containers shipped out of HK presently & can not get a confirmed price all inclusive (in writing) even though this was booked weeks ago. Nor can they ship them after end of month for a month due to Chinese New Year, even though we transited them from Laos-Vietnam on 13th, i.e. they have been in HK since that date. Go figure, so we must pay almost six weeks storage until earliest 23rd Feb! Lifes a (t)itch then your dead in the commercial world ): Richard

Robert T. Bush
19th January 2013, 03:30 PM

Yes he was a secunny. I do not believe any nationality or group has the best seamen. I believe good ones come from small islands and fishing communities. Unfortunately any in group afloat or ashore you nearly always get one or two bad apples. Get rid of them ASAP.

John Adamson
19th January 2013, 06:52 PM
When I was in Hain-Nourse, some of the ex-Nourse ships got their crews from the little island of Minicoy, excellent seaman.

20th January 2013, 01:07 AM
The ones we got were from Bombay or Mumbai as it is now called. As in my time they had to bring their chest X-ray plates with them, it was obvious that most of these did not belong to the bearer, so must have been an ongoing trade in Bombay. I wouldnt know how much bribery went on for some of these poor blokes, but a lot would never have got past a Federation Doctor, and you know what standards some of them had. Cheers John Sabourn.

Lou Barron
20th January 2013, 01:35 AM
Dipping the Red Ensign was a regular thing during the war and sometimes it ended up with the bridgeboy doing it .I can remember doing that a couple of times

Robert T. Bush
20th January 2013, 02:23 AM
Just like Nourse the Asiatic S.N.C had Minicoy deck crews. They were known as Kyboos. Not only were they good seamen they were boat builders too and sailed their ships as far as Calcutta.

Our ships sometimes stopped off Minicoy and the Master went ashore in a lifeboat to act as a sort of magistrate. The local boats came out with fish and with coconut husks for scouring the decks. They brought a sewing machine on board and made their own clothes. A few of them worked on BI ships and they manned the Bombay Pilot vessel. Our Secunnies came from East Bengal but the Deck Serang and Tindal were from Minicoy.