Display of naval flags on Her Majesty’s Canadian ships over time

Alternate Formats

The three main positions for flags on a Canadian warship are:

  • The Jack staff (bow), where the Naval Jack is flown while alongside, moored or at anchor.
  • The Masthead (top center of ship), where the Commissioning Pennant is flown, and where the Naval Ensign is flown while at sea.
  • The Ensign staff (stern), where the Naval Ensign is flown while alongside, moored or at anchor.

The following outlines the various flags flown by Canadian warships to indicate their Canadian nationality since 1910:

  • Canadian Naval Ensign
    • The Naval Ensign is flown at the masthead while at sea, or at the stern when alongside, moored or at anchor.
  • Canadian Naval Jack
    • The Naval Jack is flown at the bow when alongside, moored or at anchor.
  • Commissioning Pennant
    • Flown from the masthead, the Commissioning Pennant is hoisted on the day a warship is commissioned and is displaced only by the personal flag of the Sovereign or senior officer when embarked.

2013

On May 5, 2013, the RCN restored a standard Commonwealth naval practice and adopted a distinctive Canadian Naval Ensign. The National Flag was also adopted as the Naval Jack.

Ensign

Jack

Pennant

Early 1990s to 2013

In the early 1990s, the RN style Commissioning Pennant was phased out in favour of a new Canadian designed Commissioning Pennant (Maple Leaf).

Ensign

Jack

Pennant

1968 until early 1990s

In 1968, a new distinctive Canadian Naval Jack was adopted which incorporated the Maple Leaf flag in its canton.

Ensign

Jack

Pennant

1965-1968

With the adoption of the Maple Leaf Flag as the Canadian National Flag in 1965, the RCN adopted the new National Flag as an Ensign and a Jack.

Ensign

Jack

Pennant

1957-1965

A new Blue Ensign with red maple leaves at the base of the shield was adopted by the Government of Canada, and adopted by the RCN as the Canadian Naval Jack.

Ensign

Jack

Pennant

1922-1957

A new Blue Ensign with a shield of the new coat of Arms was introduced by the Government of Canada, and adopted by the RCN as the Canadian Naval Jack.

Ensign

Jack

Pennant

1911 – 1922

In December 1911, the RCN adopted the RN White Ensign as the Canadian Naval Ensign and the Canadian Government Blue Ensign as the Canadian Naval Jack.

Ensign

Jack

Pennant

1910 – 1911

The Naval Service of Canada, later known as the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), flew the Canadian Government Blue Ensign and the Union Jack. The Royal Navy (RN) Commissioning Pennant (cross of St. George) was also adopted.*

Ensign

Jack

Pennant

* Canada’s first warship, HMCS Niobe, flew the White Ensign vice the Blue Ensign as her Naval Ensign on arrival in Halifax on October 21, 1910 as the formal transfer to Canada did not occur until November 12, 1910.

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