Jump to content

Where do flag halliards go? Deck or top?


Recommended Posts

I am working on rigging  the USS Constitution and want to include at least two flags from the masts. It is a long way from the deck to the very top and I was wondering if the halliards are typically belayed on the first 'top' of the mast or go all the way to the deck. Should there be any blocks or thimbles on the way down?

Edited by Modeler12
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jay,

 

By the time of the Constitution, all flags were belayed on deck, and that was probably so in most navies. 

 

I seem to remember reading that flag halliards were originally only long enough to belay in the tops, but that by the mid seventeenth century long halliards down to the deck had been introduced. Mention of flag lockers, which were primarily for signalling flags and which were usually situated on the poop deck, were probably the instigator of halliards being belayed on deck. Signalling developed significantly from the seventeenth century onwards, so it was obviously easier and quicker to carry this out from the deck. The mast trucks usually had two halliard sheaves, one on each side.

 

As has been said, there is always the possibility of flags getting caught on part of the rigging, and so were belayed as far aft as possible on the shrouds of a particular mast. Another problem is of course, that flags can get wrapped around masts, staffs, rigging, etc, due to a change in the wind direction, or a change in the ship's course, and I think someone was detailed to watch for this, so that the flags were flying freely as much as possible.

Edited by Stockholm tar
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for all those suggestions. I will bring the halliards down to the deck and as far aft as possible. 

When I posed the question I was primarily thinking of the banner and 'admiral' flag that would be on top of the main and mizzen mast (perhaps also another flag on top of the foremast). I am adding six sails and the ship will be on a starboard tack. Hence the flags will be 'flying' with the Admiral on board.

The large US flag will be attached far aft on the spanker gaff and belayed on the boom. Then there will be the 'name' banners and a 'don't tread on me' flag coming off the main jack (using the sheaves you mentioned, Kester).

post-246-0-09760700-1364560704.jpg

 

Any way that is my plan and I appreciate your inputs.

Edited by Modeler12
Link to comment
Share on other sites

During the development of signaling systems in the 17th and 18th century various positions were employed to hoist flags to. i.e: trucks, tops, yardarms, gaffs.  Often the same flag flown in different positions would indicate different signals.  For example a flag flown at the fore top might mean "close the enemy and lay alongside" while the same flag flown at the main top might mean "general chase".  Sometimes there were very few types of flags available for use and national ensigns and admirals distinguishing flags were used for signaling purposes.  The fleet admiral was responsible for setting out the signal system he wanted to use in his standing orders to the fleet.   

 

As far as getting flags aloft without fouling the rigging, when I was a signalman in the Navy we sometimes sent flags aloft on the halyard rolled and tied with light twine.  When the flag reached the block a quick tug on the halyard would break the twine allowing the flag to fly free.  We often did this with the admirals flag and the break was timed to the bosuns pipe during side honors as the admiral came aboard.

 

For your flags.  The National Ensign should fly from the spanker gaff, the admirals flag from the main truck, the "don't tread on me" jack from the jack staff on the bowsprit, and the signal flags denoting the ships call sign will fly from the fore yard arm.  If you are flying all these flags it would indicate that your ship is anchored or moored at pierside.  The jack is only flown when moored or at anchor and the call sign is flown only while entering or leaving port or sometimes while moored.

 

Henry

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, Henry, if I understand you correctly, I should not be flying the 'don't treat on me' flag while at sea. What about the location of this jack? I have seen a picture where the flag is coming down from the foremast yard. Are you saying that should be from the bowsprit? Yes, this was taken in Boston while the ship was moored.

post-246-0-82480500-1364645171_thumb.jpg

 

The admiral flag should be from the top of the main. I got the impression that it should be the mizzen from the following (but maybe I misunderstood this):

The flying of a flag at the masthead to designate the vessel of a fleet commander is more than twice as old as the United States Navy, dating well back into the Middle Ages.  The first known orders covering this subject in the English navy were issued in 1530:  "the Admiral ought to have this order before he joins battle with the enemy that all his ships shall bear a flag in their mizzen tops  . . . . .

 

This came from the following source: http://mysite.verizon.net/vzeohzt4/Seaflags/personal/fo.html#top

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jay, not every ship has a jackstaff. So those that do not will fly the flag at the most forward, and lowest point. I actually do not recall if Constitution has one.

 

I'm sure that the positioning of the command pennant or admirals flag has changed over the years. Currently the position may vary depending on who is aboard. For instance if SECNAV and an admiral are both aboard for an official visit the admirals flag will get shifted to the starboard main yardarm in deference to SECNAVs flag.

 

I was just reviewing the regs, and you are right.. the admirals command flag is flown from the aftermost mast. Sorry.... it has been a while since I was active Navy.

 

Henry

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you both Henry and Wayne. Things have a habit of changing, especially when it come to flying flags. I think we all know that back in the days of old Navy ships, the admiral dictated a lot of how flags should be flown, both from a signaling standpoint and perhaps his personal preferences. Even artists had their own interpretation, I am sure.

 

For now I will eliminate the 'don't treat on me' flag since the ship is under sail, but I will add the call sign banners assuming it is close to port. I just like to have a bit of color to offset the otherwise drab black and white of the sails and spars.

The admiral flag will be on the truck of the mizzen, but I am still curious about the 'banner' flying from the truck of the main.

I might end up making one that is like shown in the web site I mentioned above.  http://mysite.verizo...nal/fo.html#top

 

Thanks again guys. Where the heck do you get all those great pictures Wayne?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jay, the pennant I think you are referring to is called a commission pennant. It is flown on every commissioned vessel in the Navy. It is the distinguishing mark for the ship itself and is flown as long as the ship is in commission. It consists of a long narrow swallowtail pennant divided horizontally red and white, the first third of the pennant (near the hoist) is blue with a horizontal line of white stars. Sorry... I can't recall how many stars there are in it. In effect it looks like an elongated slice of the National Ensign. The only times the commission pennant is hauled down is when the it is superceded by an admirals flag or the ship is taken out of commission.

 

Henry

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jay, the pennant I think you are referring to is called a commission pennant. It is flown on every commissioned vessel in the Navy. It is the distinguishing mark for the ship itself and is flown as long as the ship is in commission. It consists of a long narrow swallowtail pennant divided horizontally red and white, the first third of the pennant (near the hoist) is blue with a horizontal line of white stars. Sorry... I can't recall how many stars there are in it. In effect it looks like an elongated slice of the National Ensign. The only times the commission pennant is hauled down is when the it is superceded by an admirals flag or the ship is taken out of commission.

 

Henry

Great info, Henry. Thank you and I know exactly where to get it. I have written permission from the fellow who manages the flag web site I mentioned before. Here is what it looks like and what the Flag site explained:

 

At one time, masthead pennants were extremely long; the 1854 Tables of Allowances issued by the Bureau of Construction, Equipment and Repair prescribed pennants measuring up to seven inches by 100 feet for ships of the line and 6.75 inches by 90 feet for frigates.  Originally all U.S. masthead pennants had 13 stars, but, since those flown in boats to signify the presence of a commanding officer were too small for all the stars to be distinguished clearly, a seven-star version was adopted only for boats in 1854.  With changes in the design of warships, the length of the pennant for shipboard display was gradually reduced until 1933, when the maximum size was set at 2 1/2 inches by 6 feet and the number of stars for all pennants was fixed at seven.  The one exception to these specifications is the special case of homeward bound pennants.  The term "commission pennant" was officially adopted in lieu of "masthead pennant" in 1922.

post-246-0-03251800-1364744543.jpg

 

I will have to redraw this full scale (and unfolded) in order to make a cloth copy. The same as I did with the others I showed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok Frankie where did that come from?
 

It is appropriate for me because when the model is in a display case the flags and banner will be at or above eye level and 'many an eye will dance to see'.

 

Sorry, I had to look this up and of course I should have known: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Ironsides_(poem)

But I had never read this before. I will add this to my collection of 'stufffff'.

Thanks Frankie

Edited by Modeler12
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...