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Sri Lanka - naval ensigns

Last modified: 2013-05-20 by ian macdonald
Keywords: sri lanka | ceylon | ensign | naval ensign | civil ensign | lion |
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Naval ensign

[Naval ensign of Sri Lanka] 1:2 | image by Željko Heimer

The Sri Lanka naval ensign is white with the national flag in the canton.
Jan Zrzavy, 16 January 1998

In 1972 the red St George's cross was removed, when Sri Lanka became a republic.
David Prothero, 4 November 1998

History of the Merchant Ensign

1802 - 1955. Red Ensign, British canton.
1955 - 1969. Red Ensign, Ceylon canton.
1969 - Ceylon/Sri Lanka National Flag.
1955 - Blue Ensign, Ceylon/Sri Lanka canton, if commanded by Naval Reserve Officer.

David Prothero, 1 February 2003

Civil ensign

[Civil ensign of Sri Lanka] 1:2 | image by Željko Heimer

I have received from the Navy headquarters in Colombo the following information:

    The Sri Lanka national flag is also used as merchant navy ensign. The previous "red ensign" is not used anymore.

This comes in recent correction 29 to the Album des Pavillons (French Navy flag book)
Armand Noel du Payrat, 20 January 1998

I'm not sure where the information came from but I have a note that the National Flag became also the Merchant Flag on 5th September 1969.
David Prothero, 20 January 1998

Merchant Ship commanded by an ex-Naval Officer (Reserve List)

[Ensign of a merchant ship capitained by an ex-naval officer] image by Željko Heimer

The "blue ensign" (undefaced) is now the ensign of a merchant ship commanded by an ex-naval officer (reserve list).

This also comes in the recent correction 29 to the Album des Pavillons. The merchant navy uses the national flag, proportions 9:5, so there is no "red ensign".
Armand Noel du Payrat, 20 January 1998

In an amendment in the Admiralty Flag Book dated September 1969 it is recorded that the merchant flag changed from a Red Ensign with the Ceylon National Flag in the canton, to the National Flag also being the Merchant Flag. 'BR"
David Prothero
, 22 October 1997

As it seems from these titles, this is not used as a state ensign, as one might suppose based on British system. Looking closer, no flag is indicated to be used as state ensign, so the logical question is what ensign if flown by, for example, police boats. Smith (1982) is also "conservative" in showing the use of the national flag as only CS-/--- and showing no other flag except the army flag.
Željko Heimer, 23 January 2003

Pederson (1971) describes the Reserve (Blue) Ensign as contemporary with the Government Ensign (that is the same flag with crossed anchors in the fly) introduced in December 1954.
Christopher Southworth, 26 January 2003

Coast Guard Flag

[Coast guard flag] image by Jose Antonio Jimenez, 24 April 2013

 The Sri Lanka Coast Guard can be seen at and a picture of the logo at

On the same page there is an explanation of the logo: "The emblem features a gold lion passant, holding a sword in its right fore paw (the same lion from the emblem of Sri Lanka) in the center on a blue back ground surrounded by a yellow coloured life belt. Gold lion represent the braveness and the blue colour signifies the serene sea. The life belt reflects the Coast Guard's primary role of ensuring safety of lives. The black colour anchor represents maritime interest."
Jose Antonio Jimenez, 24 April 2013

Detail of Badge

[Coast guard flag] image by Jose Antonio Jimenez, 24 April 2013