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 Definition The vessel which holds the commander of a fleet. [d] [e]
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"distinguished flag"

This doesn't sound right to me, and a Google search seems to confirm it -- I don't find any evidence of usage like this. "Distinguishing flag" maybe, or something equivalent. I know what you want to say, but don't think that this is the way to do it. Hayford Peirce 23:19, 17 October 2008 (UTC)

Nimitz's "flagship"

For Noel: the anecdote has several theories. Nimitz was a qualified submariner, so may have been paying tribute, or even foresaw their importance. The other theory is that Grayling was the deck in best condition in Pearl Harbor at the time; not all the fires were out yet.

Apropos of the role, the Japanese debriefs said that three things beat them: submarine attacks on their supply lines, fast carrier operations (i.e., the "seatrain" or underway replenishment so the carrier forces stayed in constant action) and island-hopping. We were absolutely unfair and didn't fight the battleship action in the Western Pacific that we were supposed to. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:20, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

mass confusion here - we need precision, precision, and MORE precision


The deeper I get into this (starting out just by editing two "distinguished" or whatnot), the more I am baffled, confused, and not understanding:

1:) Is there *one* friggin' flag that you, me, Jack Kennedy, or Bull Halsey can attach to his rowboat, PT-boat, ferryboat, or aircraft carrier and thereby designate it as the *flagship*?

2.) Or are there a *multitude* of flags that people carry around with them just in case they're needed? Ie, Jack Kennedy carried around one that signified "I am a Lt. Jg, but I am in charge of this flotilla?"

3.) Or are there a *limited* number of flags, each one designating a certain rank: Ie, Lt. Commander, Commander, Rear Admiral (lower), Rear Admiral (higher), Jr. Admiral, Lt. Admiral, Lord of the Navies Admiral; Ernie Friggin' King-type Admiral, or what?

If we're gonna have a bunch of words here about *flags*, let's have some exact details.

And, while we're at it, I can't believe that pix of various "distinguished" and/or "distinguishing" flags aren't in the public domain. How about importing some *specific* pictures, and telling us what they refer to?

As a guy who drives on the Nimitz Freeway frequently in Oakland, I thank'ee.... Hayford Peirce 03:15, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

Bwahaha...and people thought operation NAMES and aircraft designations were confusing? Ha! Militaries have had only a few decades to work on those things; they've been playing with flags for centuries.
Actually, I simplified when I said flagships fly admirals' flags. There are flagships with no admirals. There are admirals on ships that are not flagships. There are officers who are not admirals, who have flags and flagships but only when in a particular assignment. There could be admirals who have flagships, and are entitled to fly a command flag, but wouldn't do so because flags get very soggy when flown from submerged submarines.
Different countries have different usages, and individual countries have changed their usage at a given time.
1: Basically, no. Now, there may be a flag (or other signal) that indicates the command ship, but not necessarily. Take Halsey at Leyte, who was the admiral commanding Third Fleet. As I remember, he usually flew his (four-star) flag, as COMTHIRDFLEET, aboard USS New Jersey. Battleships were also organized into divisions, commanded by a rear admiral (ostensibly two-star), but actually Rear Admiral of the Lower Half, paid at one star rates. Let's say that RADM Smith was COMBATDIVTWO, of the New Jersey and Iowa, and he was also aboard New Jersey. So, she is the flagship of the division and the fleet, but only flies Halsey's four-star flag because he's senior. Let's say he wants to visit a cruiser, USS Denver, which is flagship of RADM Jones, who commands Cruiser-Destroyer Squadron 12 (CRUDESRONTWELVE). When he leaves New Jersey, but doesn't transfer the role of Third Fleet flagship, they lower his four-star flag because he's no longer aboard, and raise RADM Smith's two-star flag, because he is senior officer aboard. There is no flag that says "COMMANDER THIRD FLEET", but there is a flagship for Third Fleet. New Jersey, however, has been flagship of BATDIVTWO all along, but there's only one admiral's flag flown on a flagship. When Halsey gets to Denver, as a courtesy, they raise Halsey's four-star flag, even though it isn't Halsey's flagship, but Jones'. Halsey's flagship is still his flagship, but she isn't flying his flag because he isn't aboard. His flag is flying on Jones' flagship, until he disembarks and Jones' flag gets raised again, because Denver never stopped being Jones' flagship. When Halsey gets back to New Jersey, Smith's flag gets lowered and Halsey's gets raised.
A sane signalman would leave the same two-star flag tied to the halyard (remember, he's got to lower it when Jones leaves, and raise it to show Smith is senior), unless some not terribly sensible ensign saw him do it and might insist he untie, tie, hoist, lower, untie, tie, hoist...
At least, that's the way it worked in theory, along with side boys, gun salutes, and some kind of music. I'd have to check a reference book, but Halsey rated a band and maybe a 17-gun (15?) salute. Meanwhile, if Jones decided he wanted to go visit Smith, Jones would be entitled to a lesser number of guns, side boys, and probably some boatswains' pipes on New Jersey. There would be a two-star flag flying, but, depending on the rules in effect, it might be considered Jones' if he has time in grade on Smith, or Smith might keep it. Actually, there was probably only one two-star flag in the locker, but with some especially compulsive admirals, they'd lower it and raise it.
PT-109, if Jack Kennedy were senior officer afloat, could be called the flagship, and there would be something flying from the flagpole, but it would probably be the Senior Officer Present Afloat pennant. Pennants are skinnier than flags.
2--yes and no. LTJGs don't get flags, but they can command flagships. Guessing because I don't have a WWII manual handy, he'd fly SOPA.
3--yes and no. A hospital ship with the three-star Surgeon General aboard will have his personal three-star flag hoisted as a courtesy, but a Medical Corps officer can't command a ship or formation of ships. If that hospital ship were assigned to, oh, Task Force 77, the two-star (unless he's a secret one-star with a two-star flag)'s aircraft carrier would be the flagship. (I'm ignoring some details about hospital ships). Now, when Arleigh Burke was commanding a destroyer squadron, with the rank of Captain, his destroyer was the squadron flagship, and he had the courtesy title of "commodore", and flew SOPA. Later, when a fleet chief of staff, he had the rank of commodore for a time, which, at the time, was wartime-only. Usually, someone went from captain to rear admiral (lower half), except when they didn't. Getting a one-star in WWII was usually a special recognition. My first wife's grandfather, Ben Wyatt, was a one-star during WWII. When he retired, there was a custom where if you had been decorated, you got an honorary "tombstone" promotion of one rank. He absolutely, positively refused a rear admiral title, as he said he didn't want to be confused with jumped-up captains; he made that star on his own.
Or did you want the less simplified version? Trust me...the Royal Navy gets even weirder with things like Rear Admiral of the Red and Rear Admiral of the White. Howard C. Berkowitz 04:03, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
That's a *lot* more info than I need, Howard, thankee veddy much! Geez! Hayford Peirce 20:47, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

Navy ritual

You don't want it in Navyspeak? Actually, a signalman doesn't tie a flag to a line and hoists it. He bends it onto a halyard and two-blocks it.

While Naval ritual can seem strange, it can be moving, whether impromptu or formal. Let me share an example of the informal, and fair warning: I can never keep a dry eye. A little background: you know, of course, Winston Churchill. Gunther Lutjens was the WWII German admiral commanding their heavy ships, who went down with the Bismarck. While I can't find the Navy site, Snopes should do for the tale:

One USN tradition is that every warship entering Pearl Harbor mans the sides and salutes the wreck of the USS Arizona. A lot of feelings came up when Japanese destroyers paid their first port visit to Pearl, and made the same salute. Those destroyers, incidentally, were of the Kongo class, a licensed copy of the U.S. Arleigh Burke-class. Unfortunately, I can't find an online picture. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:22, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

Information overload:-) I have never seen a critic silenced by sheer verbosity, before now!! Martin Baldwin-Edwards 02:08, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
Howard could simultaneously overload both the late, great Hubert Humphrey and Joe Biden, probably just typin' with one hand while writing an article with the other.... Hayford Peirce 03:24, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
My dear sirs! Is it verbosity, or complexity? Alternatively, I offered a personal experience as a signed story of how things, admittedly without flags, was done in the U.S. Navy in 1970, and I Was There. (how does one link to a subpage, anyway?) Now, what I don't think happened, but might have, is
The Lutjens story is, however, very memorable. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:31, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
Did the IJN really man the rails? Wow - I can see how that would have caused some mixed feelings. On the other hand, they didn't really have a choice, I expect - had they not done so, there would have been negative comment, I expect.
The story along those lines I like best involves the Menin Gate at Ypres.
(For those who don't know the background, it leads out of Ypres towards one of the biggest battlefields of WWI - the British lost I don't recall how many hundreds of thousands of killed in some of the ugliest trench warfare of that war there, and the Germans a similar number. In addition to the intensity of the fighting, the locale was a natural bog - and the artillery destroyed all the drainage ditches. So you had very ugly fighting in bottomless mud.)
Anyway, many, many bodies were never recovered - lost in the mud. So the tradition started that every day at sundown, traffic through the Menin Gate is stopped, and a Belgian military bugler comes out and plays the 'Last Post' - for all the men who are still 'out there'. I don't know if they are still doing it, but when I was there in about 1970, it was still going on. A very moving ceremony (although I think the locals were a bit blasé about it).
Here's the kicker - when the Germans marched in in 1940, at sundown that very day a German army bugler showed up and played the 'Last Post'. (At least, that's what I recall reading at one point - I've never been able to find confirmation, when I looked for it.) J. Noel Chiappa 13:06, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Army rituals

I've heard that story but don't have a source. There were a number of comments from troops after Normandy that they found the Germans had kept, or allowed to have kept, Allied military cemeteries in the same shape as the German ones.

One of the observances I always found haunting was Ataturk, years later at Gallipoli:

Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives are

now lying in the soil of a friendly country, therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You, the mothers who sent your sons from far away countries wipe away your tears.Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as


No dulce et decorum est, though. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:57, 26 October 2008 (UTC)