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William Kramer Jr.
The First Navy Jack
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NAVETSUSA
 
The First Navy Jack 
 
    As the first ships of the Continental Navy readied in the Delaware River during the fall of 1775, Commodore Esek Hopkins issued a set of fleet signals. His signal for the fleet to engage the enemy provided for the "strip'd Jack and Ensign at their proper places." Thus, the First Navy Jack was a flag consisting of 13 horizontal alternating red and white stripes bearing diagonally across them a rattlesnake in a moving position with the motto "Don't Tread On Me."

    In 1980, the Secretary of the Navy directed that the ship in an active status with the longest total period of active service shall display the First Navy Jack until decommissioned or transferred to inactive service, at which time the flag shall be passed to the next ship in line with appropriate honors. The display of this Jack by the oldest ship in the fleet is an appropriate form of recognition and promotes pride of service, enhances morale, and contributes to the tradition of naval service.

    Since June 30, 1995, USS INDEPENDENCE (CV62) has proudly flown the First Navy Jack -- the first and only aircraft carrier to hold this honor.


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    Last updated 21 April 1998
    Founded by Edward C. Reese, NCCS, USN Retired
    S. M. Weidensall, National Secretary and Webmaster