Courtesy Ensigns

I'm wondering what the current regs are in the RN with respect to the flying of courtesy ensigns by HM ships in foreign territorial waters/ports. I know that this used to be something that warships never did, but times have been changing and even the Yanks have been seen doing this in recent years.
Ensigns or National flags? Not aware that warships fly any other national flag but their own. The exception might be the "church pennant" which has st georges cross and the Dutch national colours on the same pennant. This showed that ship was at prayer and had no colours hoisted per sae
I remember hoisting/breaking a host nations flag on entering habour 50 years ago (1962)....(God, I'm getting fckukin' old)
Been to that many foreign ports since, it's been a routine matter of courtesy, and I assume it still is. :salute:
Appreciate the info. Does anyone now if current naval regulations actually address this issue? References to older regulations would also be appreciated.
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Depends on the reason for you visit I think. We are based out in Bahrain and its classed as a FOB so we don't fly the Bahraini flag however we do fly the UAE flag when we visit dubers
Here's something I found online.

Naval Flags and Ensigns

A Note by the Naval Staff Directorate

Courtesy Ensigns

Her Majesty's ships do not normally hoist courtesy flags when entering, laying alongside or leaving Commonwealth or foreign ports, as the use of courtesy flags is exclusive to the merchant service. Commanding Officers however have discretion to fly a courtesy flag subject to diplomatic advice.

Merchant ships, when entering a foreign port, and during their stay in that port, customarily fly the civil colours of that country at the yardarm, and when leaving fly the civil ensign of the country to which they are immediately bound. This practice is followed by Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service vessels when operating on their own and not in company with Her Majesty's ships or the warships of an allied nation.

The use of a Union Flag as a courtesy ensign by foreign vessels in UK ports is incorrect. The White Ensign is the appropriate masthead flag to be hoisted by Commonwealth and foreign warships during ceremonial exchanges while engaged in the United Kingdom. When dressing ship on ceremonial occasions, the correct masthead flag to be flown by Commonwealth or foreign civilian-manned government service vessels is the Blue Ensign, and the Red Ensign by Commonwealth or foreign merchant vessels

Here's a link to the full document:


Lantern Swinger
Whilst I admit to my memory failing at times, I cannot recall seeing other than the Union Jack and the White Ensign when in a war canoe in a foreign port.
Found out from the comms rating it's laid down in floos and qrrns. It's pretty much if it's an official visit the courtesy ensign goes up, if you are in a FOB there's no need


Lantern Swinger
We didnt fly courtesy host national flags in every port just if we did an expo on autega and cougar on the mighty hoop. Mainly due to a shortage of flags...

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