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Protocol Office Article 2012.04.01 Flag dis­plays of the Ger­man Navy


Section VII paragraph 2 of the Federal Government Decree concerning flag displays at federal buildings refers to special provisions governing flag displays at official buildings, installations and facilities of the Bundeswehr (Federal Armed Forces). Navy Regulation 161/1 on flags, salutes and visit regulations for Bundeswehr ships/boats (FlaSBO) in the version of 28 November 2005 governs flag displays for boats and ships. It contains provisions on displaying flags in accordance with international custom on board naval warships and auxiliaries. For naval shore authorities, Joint Service Regulation 10/8 on military customs and ceremonies of the Bundeswehr applies. 

On boats and ships, flags should indicate the nationality and character of the vessel, the location and official function of the commander, whether a head of state is on board, ceremonial occasions, mourning and honours. The German naval forces ensign and the federal institutions flag are displayed in small format as a jack at the bow of the boats entitled to fly them. Warships at anchor or tied up should display the ensign and the jack from 07:00 hours (April to September) or 08:00 hours (October to March) until sundown, but no later than 20:00 hours. Warships at sea always display the ensign, even after dark. 

On warships moored or at anchor, the daily hoisting and lowering of the ensign and jack is conducted with ceremony, usually in the form of regular colours. Ceremonial colours is allowed only on saluting ships and is ordered only on special occasions when several ships are anchored together. The honour guard or band plays the “Holländische Ehrenmarsch” as long as the flag is in motion. This is followed by the German national anthem and the national anthem of the country in whose waters the ship is located. 

Dressing and full-dressing ship signals a special occasion on board ships and boats. The occasions for and type of dressing are determined by the Federal Minister of Defence, in consultation with the Federal Foreign Office as appropriate. On occasions of dressing ship, all vessels under way, moored and at anchor display the same flags at each masthead in addition to the ensign. On occasions of full-dressing ship, in addition to the dressing of the mastheads, signal flags arranged in the prescribed order are displayed from the bow to the mastheads and on to the stern. 

Half-masting is the sign of mourning on board vessels at sea, in port and when lying at anchor. On certain occasions, only the ensign and jack are half-masted; on other occasions, the masthead flags are also half-masted. Without special instructions, the ensign and jack are flown at half-mast on the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of National Socialism (27 January), on the Day of National Mourning and whenever the Federal Government orders mourning. Masthead flags are flown at half-mast by special order of the Federal Minister of Defence. Standards and command pennants are half-masted only upon the death of the officer entitled to fly them. No flags are to be half-masted on dressed vessels. 

The standard of the Federal President is hoisted to the masthead or maintop when the Federal President is on board or has embarked. No command insignia or other standards may fly on a vessel flying the standard of the Federal President. From sunset until sunrise, the standard is to be illuminated. In addition to the standard of the Federal President, only the German naval forces ensign and foreign flags and battle ensigns may be flown.



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