Navy Department

Flags of Senior Civilian and Military Officials

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Secretary of the Navy

Except for the anchor's having been enlarged and redesigned over the years, this basic design was adopted as the flag for the Secretary of the Navy in 1866.  When displayed on a staff for indoor or parade use, it is trimmed with golden yellow fringe and equipped with a golden yellow cord and tassels.  The flagstaff ornament for the Secretary of the Navy's flag is a brass spread eagle.

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Under Secretary of the Navy

The position of Under Secretary of the Navy was created in 1940, superseding that of Assistant Secretary as the number two post in the Department.  A flag for the position was established on June 16, 1943.  It has the same design as the Secretary's but on a red field, following the long-standing but since abandoned practice by which the second senior flag officer of a given rank flew a red flag with white stars while the seniormost flew blue with white stars.  James V. Forrestal was the first occupant of this office and the first to fly its flag; he was subsequently to hoist the blue flag of Secretary of the Navy (1944-47) and the first to hoist that of the Secretary of Defense (1947).  The Under Secretary's flagstaff in boats or for indoor and ceremonial use is topped by a halberd.

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Assistant Secretary of the Navy

The Assistant Secretary of the Navy's flag was created in 1892 and authorized for display aboard ship in the 1900 edition of Navy Regulations.  The design chosen was the same as that of the Secretary's flag but with the colors reversed.  This has since become the standard system in the U.S. Government for differencing the flags of the first and second ranking civilian officials in any hierarchy.  At the time the flag was created, the assistant secretary was the second-ranking official in the Navy Department.  There are now four assistant secretaries of the Navy who rank after the Under Secretary.  When displayed in the bow of a boat or for indoor or parade use, the staff is topped with a halberd.

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Chief of Naval Operations

The Chief of Naval Operations is by law the senior officer of the naval service, except for an officer assigned as Chairman or Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The CNO is not only the uniformed head of the Navy but also a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Since the post of CNO was created in 1915, all its incumbents have been full admirals.  Although the Navy was the first service to use personal flags for senior officers, the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps all preceded it in adopting a flag specifically for the Service chief.  The CNO's flag was approved in October 1964. The design follows the basic pattern originally established by the flag for the Chief of Staff of the Army, with the field divided diagonally, but in the Navy's case the stars are arranged in the traditional diamond pattern of a four-star admiral rather than in the horizontal row used by the Army and Air Force.  The device in the center is the seal of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations surrounded by a golden chain of 50 links, one for each state.  In boats and for indoor and parade use, the CNO's flagstaff is topped by a spread eagle finial.

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Vice Chief of Naval Operations

Like the Chief of Naval Operations, the Vice Chief is also a four-star admiral.  His flag is similar to that of the CNO, but with two diagonal lines dividing the field into four sections.  The VCNO's flagstaff ornament is a halberd.

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