RUSSIAN EMPIRE
 


 
NAVAL RANK FLAGS & PENNANTS    1700-1917
 

Images Added August 2015

Tsar's Standard    Heir to the Throne as General Admiral of the Navy
 

Notes
 

During the eighteenth century, Russian flag officers flew the squadron/division naval ensigns as flags of rank: from the mainmast for an admiral, from the foremast for a vice-admiral and from the mizzenmast for a rear-admiral. Later a range of rank flags was introduced for use as boat flags. The division flags depicted below were in use up to 1865 with both the Baltic and Black Sea fleets. During periods when the fleets were organized into only two divisions, the red ensign and flags were not employed. Finally, with the demise of the sailing navy and the 1865 abolition of the division ensigns, the white First Division rank flags were specified for all admirals. From 1727 to 1870 the General Admiral (senior flag officer) of the Navy used the jack, flown at the main, as his flag of rank. In 1797 a decree of the Emperor Paul I changed the rank flags of the Second and Third Divisions; until his assassination in 1801 they bore the jack in the canton instead of the ensign. The senior officer pennants were not changed.

The Tsar's standard for use at sea bore the imperial arms on a yellow field. When the General Admiral of the Navy was the heir to the throne, his flag was the jack defaced with the imperial arms. Over the years the appearance of the arms changed; the version depicted below was current in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Also depicted on this page are the various naval appointment flags, most of which were introduced in the nineteenth century. The Commander-in-Chief of the Navy's flag was introduced in 1903; the same design had been used since 1827 by the Chief of the Naval Staff until that position was abolished in 1865. When the C-in-C was with Guards units or the Black Sea Fleet, he used the Saint George version of his flag. In 1908 the commander-in-chief's flag was modified by the addition of a blue anchor on a white panel in the canton. The flag for commanders of maritime regions and naval troops was introduced in 1855; it was additionally designated as the flag for fleet commanders in 1903. The flags for naval fortress commanders were introduced in 1913. The commander of the Emperor Peter Naval Fortress (Tallinn, Estonia) was entitled to a special flag with the badge in the canton rather than centered.

Flag Proportions: Naval ensigns and flags of the Russian Empire were generally made in 2:3 proportions, as illustrated.

Credits: Many of my drawings are based on images posted to the FOTW Mailing List by Zeljko Heimer (Croatia). Information was also taken from VEXILLOGRAPHIA, the outstanding website devoted to the historical and current flags of Russia and related countries, from the Russian Navy's official website, and from Whitney Smith's Flags Through the Ages and Across the World (1975).
 



 

TSAR'S STANDARD

 

GENERAL ADMIRAL OF THE NAVY
1727-1870

 

HEIR TO THE THRONE
AS GENERAL ADMIRAL OF THE NAVY

 

FIRST DIVISION

 

ADMIRAL

 

VICE-ADMIRAL

 

REAR-ADMIRAL

 

SENIOR OFFICER

 

SECOND DIVISION

 

ADMIRAL

 

VICE-ADMIRAL

 

REAR-ADMIRAL

 

ADMIRAL    1797-1801

 

VICE-ADMIRAL    1797-1801

 

REAR-ADMIRAL    1797-1801

 

SENIOR OFFICER

 

THIRD DIVISION

 

ADMIRAL

 

VICE-ADMIRAL

 

REAR-ADMIRAL

 

ADMIRAL    1797-1801

 

VICE-ADMIRAL    1797-1801

 

REAR-ADMIRAL    1797-1801

 

SENIOR OFFICER

 

APPOINTMENT FLAGS FOR MINISTERS, OFFICIALS & SENIOR  COMMANDERS

 

MINISTER OF MARINE    1827-56 & 1912-17
CHIEF OF THE MINISTRY OF MARINE    1856-1908

 

MINISTER OF MARINE    1908-12
 

 

CHIEF OF THE ADMIRALTY OFFICE

 

NAVAL CHIEF OF STAFF    1827-65
COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE NAVY    1903-08

 

COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE NAVY    1903-08
GUARDS & BLACK SEA FLEET FLAG

 

COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE NAVY    1908-17
 

 

FLEET COMMANDER    NAVAL TROOPS COMMANDER
COMMANDER OF A MARITIME REGION
 

 

MILITARY GOVERNOR OF A NAVAL PORT

 

COMMANDER OF A NAVAL BASE

 

COMMANDER OF A NAVAL FORTRESS

 

 

COMMANDER
EMPEROR PETER NAVAL FORTRESS
 



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