Parading the Colors


The Danish fleet at sea in the mid-eighteenth century. Note that the forked version of the Danish national flag—the Dannebrog—is flown as both ensign (at the stern) and jack (at the bow), the latter being about a quarter of the size of the former. The two ships to the right are flying the narrow commissioning pennant at the main, indicating that they are private ships (no flag officer or commodore embarked). The ship to the left flies the ensign at the main, indicating that it is the admiral's flagship. The flagship lies at anchor with its crew manning the yards, and it is returning the gun salutes of the ships of the fleet as they pass in review. The small red pennant under the commissioning pennant of the ship in the foreground is the salute pennant, indicating that the ship is delivering a gun salute. Such ceremonial conventions are still followed nowadays by the world's navies. (Painting by Clemens Mogensen, circa 1755.)

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