‘Union Jack’ returns to bows of U.S. Navy ships

June 5 (UPI) — In ceremonies around the world, the U.S. Navy resumed use of the Union Jack flag, coinciding with the 77th anniversary of the Battle of Midway.

In a ceremony aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Tuesday, the Union Jack was hoisted on a Navy’s ship’s bow for the first time since 2002.

Other commissioned vessels held similar ceremonies, honoring the decisive 1942 naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II in which the U.S. Navy defeated an attacking fleet of Japanese military vessels and fighter planes.

The Union Jack features a blue field with 50 stars in the style of the canton, or upper-left area, of the U.S. flag. Its first version was flown by the Navy in 1777. On Tuesday, it was hoisted for the first time since 2002, when it was replaced by the First Navy Jack, depicting a snake and the phrase “Don’t Tread on Me,” in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

It was announced in February that the Navy would return to its tradition of flying the Union Jack.

“Your role in the United States Navy is vital. The job you are doing right now will contribute to the overall success or failure in the challenges facing our generation,” Capt. Joseph Naman, chief of staff for Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, said during the Pearl Harbor ceremony.

“That’s the reminder of the Union Jack and the lesson that the Battle of Midway teaches us. With the decisive victory at Midway the United States would begin the long struggle to roll back a proud and determined foe. It would be the unconquerable spirit of this great nation and the United States Navy that would turn the tables on the Axis powers,” Naman said.

The Navy Jack will remain in use on one ship, the commissioned ship with the longest active status, excluding the USS Constitution, which was commissioned in 1797 and restored as a floating museum in Charlestown, Mass. That custom falls to the USS Blue Ridge, the command ship of the Navy’s Seventh Fleet, which was commissioned in 1970.

When Adm. John Richardson, the Navy’s chief of naval operations, announced the symbolic change in February, he noted, “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.

“For more than 240 years, the Union Jack, flying proudly from jackstaffs aboard U.S. Navy warships, has symbolized these strengths,” Richardson said.

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