February 21, 2019 – The Navy on Feb. 21 released a NAVADMIN 039/19 directing the display of the union jack instead of the first Navy jack aboard Navy ships and craft.
U.S. Navy ships and craft will return to flying the union jack effective June 4, 2019. The date for reintroduction of the union jack commemorates the greatest naval battle in history: the Battle of Midway, which began June 4, 1942.
“Make no mistake: we have entered a new era of competition. We must recommit to the core attributes that made us successful at Midway: integrity, accountability, initiative and toughness,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson. “For more than 240 years, the union jack, flying proudly from jackstaffs aboard U.S. Navy warships, has symbolized these strengths.”
The union jack is a flag consisting of 50 white stars, representing each of the 50 states, on a blue background. A version of this jack first flew in 1777 and was updated as new states joined the union.
“The union jack is deeply connected to our heritage and our rise as a global nation with a global Navy,” said Richardson. “The Navy is a symbol that projects American values to the world. Just as the Navy embodies the values and principles that we hold dear, our very appearance in port and at anchor communicates important messages.”
The Navy will re-establish the custom in which the commissioned ship in active status having the longest total period in active status, other than USS Constitution, will display the first Navy jack until the ship is decommissioned or transferred to inactive status. As of June 4, 2019, the only warship authorized to fly the first Navy jack is USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19).
This policy change does not affect the wearing of the first Navy jack patch as an optional uniform component on TYPE II/III Navy Working Uniforms.