Parading the Colors

United States Coast Guard    Dress Ship

"Dressing ship" with flags on occasions of ceremony is an ancient nautical tradition dating from the age of sail, when it was customary for ships to hoist on every mast all the ensigns and flags in their signal lockers. Here the USCGC Staten Island (WPB 1345), an "Island" class patrol vessel assigned to Coast Guard Sector North Carolina, shows how this custom is currently observed. In addition to the National Ensign at the stern, the Union Jack at the bow and the Coast Guard Ensign and Coast Guard Commission Pennant at the mast, she flies an additional large National Ensign along with the state flag of North Carolina. Also visible is the multicolored pennant denoting that the ship has been awarded the Coast Guard Unit Commendation. A full set of USN/USCG signal flags is displayed from bow to stern. Weather and circumstances permitting, Coast Guard cutters dress ship on Independence Day, Coast Guard Day, for commissioning, decommissioning and change-of command-ceremonies, and for other occasions as directed.

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