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Navy - Church Pennants (U.S.)

Last modified: 2015-04-04 by rick wyatt
Keywords: united states | church | pennant |
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Church Pennant

[Navy Church Pennant] image by Joe McMillan, 4 September 1999

The U.S. Flag Code provides that "No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea, when the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for the personnel of the Navy."

According to NTP-13(B), "Flags, Pennants and Customs," the U.S. Navy interprets "at sea" to mean "aboard a ship of the navy." The church pennant is displayed immediately above the ensign wherever the ensign is displayed--at the gaff when under way or at the flagstaff when not under way. It may also be flown from a fixed pole-mast during services ashore, but not superior to the national ensign.

The U.S. Navy church pennant is a white pennant with a rounded tip having a hoist to fly ratio of about 1:3. Near the hoist is a dark blue Latin cross oriented sideways, i.e. with the head at the hoist and the long lower member toward the fly.

There is also a similar Jewish worship pennant, which is flown according to the same rules as the church pennant, which was approved by the Secretary of the Navy in 1975. It is white, of similar proportions and shape to the church pennant, with the tablets of Moses topped by a Magen David, also oriented sideways.

Since there is now a Muslim chaplain in the Navy and the crescent of Islam has been added to the cross and tablets on the COA of the Navy Chaplain Corps, we should expect to see a Muslim worship pennant added at some point in the future, presumably white with a blue crescent.

Joe McMillan, 4 September 1999

Jewish Worship Pennant

[Navy Jewish Worship Pennant] image by Joe McMillan, 10 February 2000

The Jewish worship pennant was approved by the Secretary of the Navy in December 1975 as the equivalent of the traditional church pennant used for Christian services. It is flown above the ensign at the ensign staff (not underway) or gaff (underway) while Jewish services are being conducted aboard a warship by a naval chaplain. The pennant is white with a rounded tip and the emblem of the Jewish chaplaincy--the tablets of Moses surmounted by the Magen David all outlined in dark blue--set with the top toward the hoist.
Joe McMillan, 10 February 2000

Containing the first ten letters of the Hebrew alphabet symbolizing the ten commandments.
Dov Gutterman, 11 February 2000

A  photo of the pennant at and shows the field of the Tablets and the lines in the MD to be solid blue, while the spaces within the MD and between the MD and Tablets are white.
Ned Smith, 8 June 2006

The Jewish Worship Pennant in my collection does not match either this photo [at] or the one at the top of this page. Like the photo, the lines in the MD are solid blue, while the spaces within the MD and between the MD and Tablets are white. The surface of the tablets are white with blue lettering, but the double border around the tablets is solid blue, with the border lines formed by white stitching.
Devereaux Cannon, 11 June 2006

The Jewish Worship Pennant was authorized in Dec 1975. As a little bit of historical trivia to add to that from

The amphibious assault ship LPH-9 Guam "...was then selected to be the first ship in the Navy to fly the new Jewish worship pennant that was introduced in October [1976] for use to signify that the ship was conducting Jewish worship services."
Ned Smith, 11 June 2006