UNITED STATES COAST GUARD
 


 

CURRENT ENSIGNS & FLAGS
 

Commissioned vessels of the Coast Guard are always called cutters, with type designations added to distinguish among the various classes. In addition to the National Ensign and the Union Jack cutters fly the Coast Guard Ensign, which symbolizes the service's law enforcement authority. This ensign is a variant of the US Revenue Ensign. The number of vertical stripes—sixteen—corresponds to the number of states in existence in 1799, when the first version of the Revenue Ensign was adopted. Up to 1910, this ensign was flown by cutters in lieu of the National Ensign. In that year, President Taft signed an executive order to create a distinctive flag for the Revenue Cutter Service: the Revenue Ensign with the service's badge in the fly. Since then cutters have flown the National Ensign and Union Jack, with the Coast Guard Ensign as their distinguishing flag.

The Coast Guard Commission Pennant, which also dates from 1799, follows the color scheme of the Coast Guard Ensign, with thirteen stars and sixteen stripes. The current positional colors of the Commandant and Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard are the same as the corresponding Navy colors, with the Coast Guard insignia replacing the Navy insignia. Prior to 2007 the only four-star Coast Guard admiral was the Commandant and between 1945 and 1979, the Commandant's positional color was simply the rank flag of a full admiral. In 1979 the current positional colors were authorized, the Vice Commandant's color initially displaying three stars. In 2007, however, Congress authorized four-star rank for the Vice Commandant and a star was added to his flag. Rank flags for other Coast Guard Admirals are similar to their Navy equivalents, with the Coast Guard badge added. The civilian head of the Coast Guard, currently the Secretary of Homeland Security, has a positional color of the standard pattern for senior government officials. A version without fringe is flown by Coast Guard cutters when the Secretary is embarked.

Note on the Music: Senior government officials, including those of the Department of Homeland Security, are entitled to musical honors on occasions of ceremony: four ruffles and flourishes followed by the grandioso (last 32 bars) of "The Stars and Stripes Forever." Flag officers of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard receive from one to four ruffles and flourishes according to rank (one per star; a full Admiral and an Admiral of the Fleet both receive four). When a full band is present, ruffles and flourishes are followed by the "Flag Officer's March." On this page, the United States Navy Band sounds honors for flag officers.

Imaged Added July 2017

Positional Color, Secretary of Homeland Security    Positional Color, Commandant of the Coast Guard, 1945-79  •  Positional Color, Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard Since 2007
 



 

NATIONAL ENSIGN


 

UNION JACK

 

COAST GUARD ENSIGN

 

COMMISSION PENNANT

 

POSITIONAL COLORS & RANK FLAGS

 

SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY

 

COMMANDANT OF THE COAST GUARD  •  1945-79

 

COMMANDANT OF THE COAST GUARD SINCE 1979

 

VICE COMMANDANT OF THE COAST GUARD  • 1979-2007

 

VICE COMMANDANT OF THE COAST GUARD SINCE 2007

 

VICE ADMIRAL

 

REAR ADMIRAL (UPPER HALF)

 

REAR ADMIRAL (LOWER HALF)

 


 

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