SOUTH AFRICA
 


 

NAVAL ENSIGNS & FLAGS    1928-94
 

Images Added May 2013

Commissioning Pennant    Senior Officer
 

Notes
 

The Union of South Africa adopted a new national flag in 1928: a horizontal tricolor of orange, white and blue with a "union badge" on the white stripe combining the British Union Jack with the flags of the Transvaal Republic and the Orange Free State. South African warships flew this flag as a jack together with the British White Ensign until 1946 when a new ensign was introduced: white with the 1928 national flag as a canton. This design was not popular and it was proposed to replace it with an ensign similar to the national flag but with 1:2 proportions and a small orange-white-blue canton charged with the naval crest. This design found even less favor, however, and the 1946 ensign remained in service until 1952. It was replaced in that year by a design based on the British White Ensign. The dark green cross was Scandinavian style (vertical arm offset toward the hoist) to accommodate the national flag, proportioned 2:3, as a canton. Green was chosen over red or blue because it was a traditional South African color, having figured in the flag of the old South African Republic. In 1959, a white fimbriation was added around the canton and in 1981 overall proportions were altered to 2:3, the cross was made thinner and the naval badge was placed in the lower hoist. The 1994 Naval Ensign is similar to the 1981 design, but with the new national flag as a canton and no badge in the lower fly. Prior to 1952 the commissioning pennant was identical to that of the Royal Navy; the cross was changed to green in that year to match the new naval ensign.

Prior to 1951 the South African Navy had no flag officers. In the years following World War II, however, the development and expansion of the Navy led to the establishment of flag ranks. This necessitated the introduction of a range of naval rank and appointment flags. Rank flags of the first pattern, adopted in 1952, were based on the design of the new naval ensign: white with a dark green cross and a variant of the South African flag in the canton, the three-flag badge of the national flag being replaced by the crest from the South African arms. These new rank flags also featured a shallow swallowtail, making them quite distinct from the naval rank flags of the other Commonwealth nations. Three flags were authorized: for the Chief of Naval Staff (the only full admiral), for vice-admirals and for rear-admirals. The Chief of Naval Staff's flag incorporated the badge of the South African Corps of Marines in the lower hoist.

In 1955 the Corps of Marines was disbanded and its badge was accordingly removed from the Chief of Naval Staff's flag. In 1959  all the rank flags had a white fimbriation added around the canton to match the modified design of the naval ensign. (In the illustrations below, the 1951-55 Chief of Naval Staff's flag depicts the configuration of the canton without fimbriation, while the other rank flags depict the final pattern.) Finally, in 1972 a completely new range of rank flags was adopted, identical to the Royal Navy pattern but with green in place of red. The senior officer's pennant was the same as the NATO SOPA (senior officer present afloat) pennant, i.e. the green-white-green "Starboard" signal flag.

The Commander, Maritime Defence, was given a distinctive flag in 1965. Since his command included units of the South African Air Force, the SAAF eagle was placed on this flag. The design was modified in 1968 and discontinued in 1972 when the appointment itself was abolished.

Flag Proportions: Up to 1981 SA naval ensigns had 1:2 proportions. Since then, they have had 2:3 proportions.
 


 

NAVAL ENSIGNS & JACK

 

NATIONAL FLAG & NAVAL JACK    1928-94

 

NAVAL ENSIGN    1946-52

 

NAVAL ENSIGN    1952-59

 

NAVAL ENSIGN    1959-81

 

NAVAL ENSIGN    1981-94

 

NAVAL RANK & APPOINTMENT FLAGS    1951-72

 

CHIEF OF NAVAL STAFF  1951-55

 

CHIEF OF NAVAL STAFF    1955-72

 

COMMISSIONING PENNANT    1952-94

 

COMMANDER, MARITIME DEFENCE    1965-68

 

COMMANDER, MARITIME DEFENCE    1968-72

 

VICE-ADMIRAL    1952-72

 

 REAR-ADMIRAL    1952-72

 

NAVAL RANK FLAGS    1972-94

 

ADMIRAL

 

VICE-ADMIRAL

 

REAR-ADMIRAL

 

COMMODORE

 

SENIOR OFFICER

 


 

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