Why Will All US Navy Ships Start Flying The Union Jack?

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US Navy Quartermaster unfurls the union jack on the jack staff of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower – US Navy Photo by Kaleb Sarten

A US Navy order released on Thursday directs all ships of the fleet to start flying the union jack.

Not to be confused with the national flag of the United Kingdom the Union Jack of the United States is a maritime flag representing United States nationality flown on the jackstaff in the bow of American vessels that are moored or anchored.

The U.S. Navy is a prime user of jacks for its warships and auxiliaries, but they are also used by ships of the U.S. Coast Guard,Military Sealift Command and other U.S. government vessels. Today US Navy vessels fly the First Jack which depicts a snake and the words DONT TREAD ON ME. The Union Jack however, was first flew in 1777 and looks identical to the top left corner of  the American Flag. 

According to the order, U.S. Navy ships will return to flying the union jack on June 4th to help foster a fighting spirit. The date for reintroduction of the union jack commemorates the greatest naval battle in American 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.”