Ensign (flag)

An ensign is the national flag flown on a vessel to indicate nationality. The ensign is the largest flag, generally flown at the stern (rear) of the ship while in port. The naval ensign (also known as war ensign), used on warships, may be different from the civil ensign (merchant ships) or the yacht ensign (recreational boats). Large versions of naval ensigns called battle ensigns are used when a warship goes into battle. The ensign differs from the jack, which is flown from a jackstaff at the bow of a vessel.

National civil ensign of New Zealand flown from the stern of Hikitia

In its widest sense, an ensign is just a flag or other standard.[1] The European military rank of ensign,[2] once responsible for bearing a unit's standard (whether national or regimental), derives from it (in the cavalry, the equivalent rank was cornet, named after a type of flag). Ensigns, such as the ancient Roman ensigns in the Arch of Constantine, are not always flags.

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